November 15, 2015
Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel is rolled over tackle Joe Thomas for a sack by Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones in the third quarter. John Kuntz, cleveland.com
PITTSBURGH -- During the Browns' embarrassing 30-9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, I was receiving emails like this from Jim Mullen:
"With the Browns committing penalty after penalty ... sometimes, two on the same play ... the game is impossible to watch."
I was thinking the same thing.
Mullen added: "Hate to say it, but the coaching is terrible and the execution on the field is ever worse."
That's because games like this are killing the fan base. Browns fans are emotional. They are frustrated. They are angry. They are sometimes a bit irrational.
But they also know what bad football looks like, and they have been seeing it for weeks this season.
They saw the Browns commit two penalties on the same play ... twice. For the game, the Browns were penalized 12 times for 188 yards.
Eric Mangini would probably have his team running down the turnpike back to Cleveland after a performance like that. The former coach had a mania about penalties. Mangini had weaknesses, but his teams were disciplined and usually among the league leaders in fewest penalties.
Not this group. Not this year. And I wish Mike Pettine sounded as if it bothered him more. This is the fourth time in 10 games that the Browns have had at least 11 penalties in a game.
Pettine talked about his team making "simple mistakes ... mental errors."
Some of this is a reflection on the coaching staff.
NO CHANGE FOR NOW
After the game, owner Jimmy Haslam told some media members there would not be any changes in the bye week.
He said, "No change."
This is the sixth time in 10 games that the Browns have allowed at least 30 points. That's right, six games of at least 30 points from a defense that was supposed to be the strength of this team. The Steelers were on the Browns 2 and took two quarterback kneeldowns to end the game.
In other words, the score could have been even more lopsided. Just as the Bengals probably could have had even a wider margin than their 31-10 victory in the previous game.
So they have been spanked, 61-19, in their last two games by AFC North opponents.
As Alexander Goodlive emailed: "You see the team we're playing? The team that actually knows how to draft players, make adjustments and not make stupid errors all the time? How is it you can't do that?"
IT'S GETTING WORSE
The fact that the team schooling the Browns once again was the Steelers makes it even more painful. The 2-8 Browns have lost five in a row. In that span, they have been outscored, 145-68.
It's ridiculous and it really has been getting worse each week. I really believe the players are giving a physical effort. But there are so many mental mistakes. There is a sense of hopelessness hanging over the team.
A man named Tim wrote: "It stinks being a Browns fan. My pastor is a Bengals fan. Can't say that I blame him."
IT'S NOT JUST JOHNNY
Johnny Manziel finished the day with good-looking stats (33-of-45 for 372 yards), but the Browns reached the end zone only once. This isn't about blaming Manziel. He was far from the worst player in an orange helmet.
The Browns just appeared so disorganized at times. The Browns were inside the Pittsburgh 1 with a first down. Then came a holding penalty. A sack. An illegal formation penalty. An interception.
Later in the game, they finally did score a touchdown -- and then missed the extra point. It was a complete mess.
Pettine called this game a "big step forward" for Manziel, and that seems to be correct. The quarterback remained reasonably poised and tried to make some plays.
But Pittsburgh had a 21-3 lead at the half. The Steelers played some soft pass coverage, especially when out in front. That led to a lot of yards and completions, but not many points.
The Browns have now lost 13 of 15 dating back to last season.
Pettine called this game a "disappointing result."
I call it a regression and it's leading to major fan depression.