It’s crazy what a late-season win can do for a team in the middle of a lost season.
Last week, when the Cleveland Browns convincingly beat the San Francisco 49ers, the negativity of a 3-10 record seemed to dissipate a little. Suddenly, Johnny Manziel was a potential franchise quarterback. Likewise, coach Mike Pettine was no longer seen as a dead man walking, with many fans quickly reversing course and claiming he might be worthy of another year.
Sure, all of this was coming from a win over a very bad 49ers team. Still, all it took was one victory and all of the sudden there were some silver linings to find around another listless Browns season.
And then, one week later, all the positivity was gone.
Cleveland headed to the Pacific Northwest this afternoon to take on the white-hot Seattle Seahawks. For obvious reasons, nobody really thought the Browns stood a chance. However, there was a faint glimmer of hope last week’s victory would help build some momentum.
Within a quarter and a half of play, it was clear these were still the same Browns. The quarterback play was still good, not great. The defense was still as strong as wet toilet paper. The mistakes were still coming early and often.
So, yes, last week’s win was enjoyable. However, very little about this Browns team has changed.
Manziel was still just decent, nothing more, nothing less. An incredibly strong touchdown drive to open the game ended up being the highlight of the day for Cleveland’s quarterback. Once again, all it took was some adjustments from the opposing defense, and suddenly the Browns offense was brought to a complete halt.
Defensively, Cleveland’s otherworldly performance from last week was forgotten after Seattle’s first drive of the day. After sacking San Francisco quarterback Blaine Gabbert nine times last Sunday, the Browns defense once again reverted back to the toothless unit which couldn’t scare a toddler if it tried.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson carved Cleveland up for the easiest 289 yards of his year, also adding three touchdown passes with ease. Meanwhile, someone named Christine Michael rushed for 84 yards against the Browns, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Sure, it would’ve taken an incredible leap of faith to assume Cleveland’s defense could slow down the streaking Seahawks. However, there was mild hope the team suddenly learning how to tackle last week would carry over a bit for the rest of the season.
Yet, this doesn’t appear to be the case. No, the Browns instead looked more like the team which had no idea how to tackle, how to cover receivers or how to spark even the slightest bit of intimidation whatsoever.
Of course, it’s not a typical Cleveland game without some mind-numbing mistakes. Sure enough, there were a few of those today, as well.
For example, when the Seahawks got the ball at their own 27 with 16 seconds left in the first half, it was safe to assume Cleveland could keep them from scoring. However, these are the Browns we’re talking about. So, naturally, cornerback Tramon Williams grabbed wideout Jermaine Kearse’s facemask as time expired. The penalty ended up giving Seattle a shot to kick a field goal and grab a ten point lead. The game was officially out of reach from this point on.
On top of this blunder, there were severely blown coverages which allowed big gains and/or touchdowns for the Seahawks. There were dropped balls from multiple Browns receivers which killed promising drives. And there was first-round draft pick Cameron Erving proving yet again he might not actually know how to play football.
Anyone who thought that maybe, just maybe, last week’s victory could at the very least spark an inspired run to end the season was proven wrong in record time this afternoon. Instead, Manziel is still unproven, Cleveland’s defense is still astoundingly ineffective and Pettine is still on borrowed time.
Yes, unfortunately, these are indeed the same ol’ Browns.