Browns lose to Bengals: One last look

Sober thoughts on Browns losing to the Bengals

11/18/13 in NFL   |   ZacWassink   |   74 respect

Nov 17, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) attempts to catch a pass over Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Terence Newman (23) during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY SportsIt's another tough day to be a fan of the Cleveland Browns. Roughly 24 hours after the team suffered through a horrendous second quarter en route to a loss at the Cincinnati Bengals, the Browns have to pick themselves up and prepare to face off with division rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers. We are all about to see if Cleveland is an actual contender, or just a team that has a very good defense.

Sober thoughts on Browns losing to the Bengals: A miss?The Browns have received a ton of praise from analysts and fans alike for the trade that landed the team a future first round draft pick for Trent Richardson, and rightfully so. Richardson has been demoted to a second-choice running back since making the move to the Indianapolis Colts, and fans and sports talk radio hosts in the Indy area are throwing around the “bust” word.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the Browns letting Bobby Rainey go. Rainey exploded in his second game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, rushing for 163 yards and finding the end zone a total of three times. He's averaging 5.5 yards per carry with the Bucs.

The Browns, meanwhile, still have something that sometimes resembles a NFL rushing attack.

Rainey hardly stood out during his brief stint in Cleveland. That he has looked like a player reborn in Tampa Bay is an understatement. It's still too early to say for sure that the Browns missed on Rainey, but those running the franchise no longer look like the smartest people in the room.

Sober thoughts on Browns losing to the Bengals: Cleveland wide receivers
The wide receivers on the Browns continue to lack the physicality to beat good defenses. Far too many times this season have potential targets waited for the ball to come to them rather than actively pursue passes. We've seen it from Greg Little at least once per game, and it happened on what could have been a pivotal fourth down play yesterday when Josh Gordon, for whatever reason, continued his route rather than halting and attacking the ball.

This is a player issue in August preseason games and in Week 1. It's the middle of November. That the coaching staff hasn't done enough to eliminate this problem is telling. Changes are coming to that part of the offense in the upcoming offseason. Gordon may be the only survivor when the Browns take the field next summer.

Sober thoughts on Browns losing to the Bengals: Move forward
The loss stings. There's no denying it. Cleveland has to immediately put Sunday in the past, because the Browns are still just a single game from holding the final Wild Card spot.

The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins are the only real contenders who aren't under .500. Both teams are 5-5. Cleveland beating the Steelers and then the Jacksonville Jaguars would put the Browns at 6-6 and as likely to make the postseason as any other team fighting for that last berth.

This is where head coaches earn their paychecks. The Browns are not nearly as bad as they looked in the second quarter of yesterday's game. Jason Campbell will have six additional days to rest those ribs that were clearly hurting him in Cincinnati. Cleveland will be at home against a Pittsburgh team that, while having won two straight, still isn't all that good.

Rob Chudzinski has gotten things right, and he's also been guilty of miscues in his first season as Cleveland head coach. His biggest task to date will be getting the Browns up for Sunday's game, and then doing whatever possible to ensure that the team doesn't completely fall apart when things begin to go wrong on game day. Neither of those are easy tasks when dealing with what is a young roster.

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