It's another dark day for fans of the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns came crashing back to earth and in a painful way in the past two weeks, and their loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday cemented many things. Cleveland right now isn't a playoff team. There's no question that the Browns are again the worst side in the AFC North. Groundhog Day continues for the league's most-battered fan base.
Sober thoughts on Browns losing to Steelers: Overrated?
The problems within the offense of the Browns are hardly unknown. Cleveland doesn't have a NFL run game. No adequate starting quarterback is on the roster. Outside of Josh Gordon, the Browns are lacking a play-maker.
One thing that isn't getting a lot of mentions by fans and analysts alike is the fact that the defense of the Browns, touted as being the best of any in the division not that long ago, has been rather lackluster over the past couple of weeks. Cleveland didn't register a sack in the team's past two weeks. The Browns didn't force a single turnover against the Steelers, a side that has given the football away 18 times in 2013.
There's plenty of blame to go around following the loss to Pittsburgh. Cornerback Joe Haden was beaten for a 41-yard touchdown pass that changed the tone and feel of the game. The Browns had little going in the way of a pass rush. Ben Roethlisberger looked like the player of old, and it wasn't because he somehow magically found new life.
Cleveland absolutely has talent on defense. That unit wasn't good enough in two divisional games, contests that will mean the end of the team's playoff hopes. The Browns aren't ready for prime time, and it isn't just because they lack a QB.
Sober thoughts on Browns losing to Steelers: What happened?
Tight end Jordan Cameron seemed a certain All-Pro after the first month of the campaign. Cameron found the end zone five times in the team's first four games, and he caught 30 total passes during that stretch. Since then, however, he's scored only a single touchdown. He had three catches for a total of 32 yards in the losing effort against Pittsburgh.
I find it a lazy argument to claim that teams are no longer surprised that Cameron can be a weapon, or that Jason Campbell doesn't look for the tight end as does Brandon Weeden. It is on the coaching staff to make sure that talented offensive players are targeted as often as possible, and it's on Cameron to get open and then make plays. He needs to have a bigger role in this offense over the next five games if the Browns are to pick up at least one more win before December ends.
Sober thoughts on Browns losing to Steelers: Ugh
There's little point in the Browns playing Campbell, who is dealing with bruised ribs and a concussion, again this season. The guy needs to rest and heal. That means that Weeden will be getting the start this coming weekend when the Browns host the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The stats tell the story on Weeden and what he has meant to this team. Cleveland hasn't won a single game in 2013 when Weeden has started. The 30-year old has regressed from his rookie season, and he isn't showing any signs of getting better.
It wasn't that long ago that the Jacksonville game seemed like a gimme for the Browns. Those days are long gone. The Cleveland front office made a huge mistake in not bringing in another quarterback immediately after Brian Hoyer was injured, and the team is now going to pay for it.
Things could get very ugly at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 1.