It will continue to be said over and over again until the Cleveland Browns eliminate the trend: Bad teams find ways to lose games.
That Cleveland continues to be outplayed in the section portion of halves is probably the most disturbing trait about the Browns as they close 2013 out in lackluster fashion. The Chicago Bears put 21 points on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter of Sunday's affair at Cleveland, and the lone touchdown scored by the Browns in that final period of play came in what was essentially garbage time.
Cleveland was a playoff contender less than two months ago. What the heck happened?
Browns lose to Bears: Campbell
There no longer exists a reason for veteran Jason Campbell to start another game for the Browns this fall. Campbell's stats tell but a small portion of the story regarding his play against Chicago. He targeted Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, his two best weapons, a single time in the first quarter. Gordon didn't even have one pass go his way in the opening 15 minutes of play.
Campbell wasn't seeing plays clearly, and it made it for a difficult first half to watch. He missed open wide receivers, he didn't see when potential targets had broken free of coverage, and he hit Chicago's Zack Bowman in stride with a pass that never should have been thrown.
Campbell isn't the answer for the Browns. He is, no disrespect meant, a backup quarterback. He should return to being one as soon as possible, even if that means giving Alex Tanney an opportunity.
Browns lose to Bears: No shutdown
Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden has the goods to be the top player at his position in the NFL. He hasn't shown that over the past three weeks, and it has cost the Browns on multiple drives. That was again the case on Sunday.
Size had nothing to do with the touchdown pass reeled in by Brandon Marshall in the second quarter. Haden took a bad angle, making for an easy grab for one of the best wide receivers in pro football. Haden was credited with a single pass breakup against the Bears. That's not going to cut it.
In all fairness to Haden, the Cleveland secondary as a whole has failed the team over the past month. Penalties committed by defensive backs of the Browns gifted Chicago with 35 yards on the drive that saw the visitors tie the game in the fourth quarter. The team's pass defense, specifically, has crumbled in the fourth quarter of Cleveland's last three contests.
Defensive coordinator Ray Horton no longer looks like a sure thing as a future NFL head coach.
Browns lose to Bears: Overall
FOX TV commentator and former head coach Brian Billick pointed out the obvious late in Sunday's game: The Browns have to take that next step and learn how to close teams out. Cleveland had wins for the taking every Sunday over the past three weeks and when on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Browns lost all four of those contests.
It's going to be an interesting final two weeks in Berea as the Browns, officially eliminated from the playoffs after today, conclude what is guaranteed to be another losing season. The numbers suggest that the team is better off than it was one year ago. Their schedule, however, has me believing that Cleveland will finish at 4-12.
The Browns won five games last season.
All talk about future draft picks aside, Cleveland has two games remaining. There is pride on the line for more than a few players in the locker room. Finishing a season as losers of ten of eleven contests does nobody any good.
Is there a turnaround in sight for one of the league's worst teams?