For my entire life I never remember us being a good west coast team, new Browns or old. Losing to the Rams is not unheard of as they did win the Superbowl a few years back. But truth be told, this week and last at Denver, we didn't lose to the Broncos or Rams, we lost to the Sean's. Sean Payton and Sean McVay, two Superbowl winning coaches that saw us coming and constructed very confident game plans against us, knowing as coaches and organizations, they clearly had the upper hand.
It would be easy to sit here and bash Stefanski, but being honest, that's not fair, nor productive. Taking nothing away from Stefanski, the two Sean's are just light years ahead of him and both have far less talented rosters than us. Let's clear this up right here. The Browns have significant injuries to many pivotal players and that can't be hidden or minimized. We're playing a QB that was on his couch two weeks ago resting his 38 year old self. But Joe Flacco played extremely well and didn't embarrass himself or the Browns. He looked really good considering.
I knew each of the last two games would be tough for us to win, because good NFL coaches know it's December and know how to win games that need to be won. Both Sean's devised game plans that used our strengths against us and that's the sign of real football IQ. They both knew the tendencies and predictability of our staff and counted on them to play into their hands, and we did in both games. They each knew that we want to throw the ball as much as possible with two QB's that are different, one being a rookie and one being rusty and we did. In the last two games, we threw about 90 passes and just scored 31 points total. Only about 3 teams have run the ball as well as us in the entire NFL, and yet we refuse to do it to control the game.
The Broncos and Rams both knew that going in. They knew that we would NOT play to our own strengths, even under these incredible circumstances of injuries and with new or geriatric QB's. They were counting on the desire for us to implement a passing game that overall has not been effective all year. We did it, and we lost. It's just being outsmarted by far better football people that know you better than you know them - and know you better than you know yourself. They breathed a sigh of relief we had no desire to figure it out. They also have their first team QB's on the field and we don't. But the coaches haven't gotten that memo yet.
Over the course of time our defense gets worn down, and plays poorly late and that's a problem. They're an attacking bunch and they have a tough time late in games when we can't move the ball or we turn it over. No one has turned the ball over more than us in the NFL. And you get that when you have injuries, third stringers playing and players being asked to do things that are not their strengths. We're not scoring points and we're not this offensive machine we think we are. But we're determined to prepare that way.
And here come the Jags with Doug Pederson who is another fantastic head coach. He took the Jags from the outhouse, to a playoff win last year and then gave the Chiefs all the could handle in the playoffs before bowing out. They are good, they are trying to get playoff games too and they're going to want to beat the Browns. He's a good football man and this is critical for the Browns with many teams we are wrestling with for the playoffs having easier games this week than us. But the Jags may be dealing with their own injured QB issues today.
And BTW - name a starting QB. You're fooling no one except yourself thinking this strategy makes a difference. The Jags couldn't care less.
BUT through it all, the Browns still have their destiny in their own hands. Just win and things take care of themselves. But winning in the NFL is hard when good competition is standing in your way. And even harder when you're standing in your own way.