Browns 23, Stillers 20 ������Sep 17, 2000 Game #2
Stillers-Browns Post Game Analysis & Grades:
Just when you thought things couldn�t get worse, the Stillers suffered an emotionally-crushing defeat at the hands of the Brownies, 23-20. The Stillers slept-walk thru the 1st quarter � just like last year�s loss to Clev � and spotted the Browns a 14-0 lead. From that point on, however, the Stillers dominated play, but true to the nature of this team�s staff and collective mindset, they were content to play turtle in enemy territory, continually botching golden field position into punts or meager FGs. In the end, the ultra-conservative, no-brained staff gave away a sure tying FG with absolutely horrendous, gutless playcalling, leading to a Graham 3rd down sack that prevented the team from getting its FG team on the field before time expired.
- 21-yd TD pass to wide open FB Marc Edwards.
- 4th and 1 Bus run; met hard by Jamir Miller, but Bus plowed hard for a barely-made 1st down.
- Brown's TD-saving stop on long KO return, right after Stillers closed the deficit to 14-13.
- DeWayne�s drop of easy INT, which not only would have scored a TD for Pit, but allowed Clev. to kick a FG to extend it lead to 17-13.
- Bettis� poor throw on HB option pass, resulting in INT and no points for Stillers.
- 3d and 11, on 2nd play of 4th qtr, Couch completes 36-yard pass to Patten.
- Pinned on his own 5, Couch has all day, and clear line of sight, to hit KJ on a post for an 80-yard completion, setting up the winning FG.
- 4th and 6 on final drive � Graham hits Shaw, and big RAC nets 29-yard gainer.
- Graham takes sack, with no TO�s, on 3rd down at the Clev. 8, which prevented team from kicking tying FG.
QB: Graham went 14-27, for 194 yards, which is oh-so typical of the Stiller offense that is perfectly content to dink and dump, and is totally incapable of doing much of anything when the defense comes with heavy blitzes. The worst stat of the day was the 4 batted passes Graham suffered at the LOS, which is inexcusable for a man of his height. With 2 weeks off, and facing a very ordinary secondary, the passing game should have produced more. Graham, of course, was ordered to run the short, piddly passing game that Gilbride loves to run. When Graham was allowed to throw downfield, he was hitting WIDE OPEN receivers for big yardage. The most egregious mistake by Graham was obviously the inexcusably asinine sack he took on the game�s final play. A veteran QB with his much NFL experience HAS to know that the ball must be quickly delivered to a receiver, or thrown thru the goal posts in order to stop the clock and get the FG unit on. D+.
RB: Bettis broke out of his slump with a strong rushing effort, gaining 5.3 yards a crack with some good, hard running. Hunt scored 1 TD, but rarely played in the 2nd half; I have to presume that he may have been nicked up with a small injury. Fu had a couple carries and a couple short catches. Amoz, as is usual, did not dress. The worst play made by this group was the hideous HB option pass thrown by Bettis, which looked as though it was thrown by a 5th grader playing in his 1st pee-wee game. A.
FB: Wit had several adequate blocks that helped Bus spring for good yardage. He caught a couple balls, though stumbled and fell on the 1 reception. B.
WR: Shaw and Ward really came on today, scorching the Browns secondary for some big plays. Shaw had a the clutch 4th down 29-yarder, and Ward had a 31-yarder. Shaw, in fact, averaged an impressive 22-yards per catch, with the lone boner being a fumble on the final drive, which was recovered by Pit, but lost yardage that wiped out a 1st down. Burress, who should have enjoyed an enormous mismatch with the midget CBs of Clev, was ignored by the Stiller offense the entire 1st half, and finished with a whopping 2 grabs for 20 yards. Troy did not dress, due to injury. B+.
TE: Breuner resumed his normal routine, snaring 1 dumpoff for a whopping 5 yards. His blocking was solid. B.
OL: The line blocked considerably better than the Raven game, though the Browns inexplicably played a lot of vanilla defense that limited their penetration on running plays. The surge and point of attack blocking was pretty crisp and solid. The pass protection, for the most part, was acceptable. The saddest part of this unit was rookie Marvel Smith, who got abused by rookie C. Brown, who simply bull rushed and shoved Smith around for 2 of his 3 sacks. Tylski committed the only penalty, a false start. B.
DL: The DL played the 1st quarter with their heads inserted deep up their collective buttocks, getting manhandled and bullied by an ordinary OL that was missing starting guard Pyne. The line came on and played much better, including a key 4th qtr. stuffing of Clev. on 1st and goal from the 2, limiting Clev. to a FG. Still, it was pitiful and inexcusable for this line to wax their carrots for the 1st 2 possessions. The pocket push and pass harassment was totally non-existent. C-.
LB: The LB was overall soft and unacceptable. Like the DL, the LBs allowed Clev. to march up and down the field in the 1st quarter like a parade. Kirk was obviously still hobbled by his ankle, as he was getting blocked out far too regularly. Holmes allowed the 1st TD to Shea, though, given the way Clev. was running at will, he pretty much had to step up on the play fake. Gildon made a few stops, but also allowed gobs of yardage to run right up right-tackle while he politely was stepping aside. He did get credit for a forced fumble, though that was more attributable to the butter-fingered Chiaverini dropping the ball, than anything from Gildon�s soft tackle on the play. Porter best work came on roughing up punter Gardocki during punt returns. Otherwise, he did squat. Both OLBs never once generated pressure or harassed Couch, who was not sacked at all, and was only harassed once the ENTIRE game, on a Kirk blitz. C-.
DB: This bunch of laggards continued its quest to make fantasy football participants drool every time a player on a FFL roster is scheduled to play the Stillers. DeWayne, Shields, and Townsend were abused for 1 big play after another. The tackling was often sloppy. DeWayne dropped an easy INT, which could have easily been returned for a huge TD. This grade could be worse, but the pitiful, non-existent pass rush generated by the front 7 forces me to temper their grade a bit, since no DB can cover a receiver for 8 seconds. D+.
Spec Teams: Like the rest of the team, this was simply another VCR re-run of the spotty, slackly special teams this group has provided the team the past 2 years. The KO team gave up a 62-yard return in the 2nd half, which would have surely been a TD if not for the speed, hustle, and frit of Kris Brown. But the damage was done, giving Cleve. Golden field position that enabled them to kick a FG. Ward did have a long KO return to start the 2nd half, and Poteat showed some flash and speed on a nifty punt return. Josh�s pooch punting was superb, continually pinning Clev. deep inside their own 5, with the able help of Jason Simmons. Only the pooch punting and 2 good returns saves this from being failing grade. C-.
Off Coord: What more needs to e said about Kevin Gaypride?? I wrote here during the bye week, that this team had 13 days to right the wrongs of this pathetic offense. While the ground game was good today, the passing game continues to sputter in mediocrity, especially against the blitz. What did Gaypride do the past 2 weeks to adjust or improve this pass offense? NOTHING. He had a sure mismatch with Burress on smurf CBs like McCutcheon, but instead IGNORES the guy virtually the entire game. How many times did this team throw the ball INTO the end zone? Answer: ZERO. This team had NUMEROUS chances to put the ball into the EZ in the 2nd half, especially with GOLDEN field position, but each time Gaypride played dink and dump with feeble, no-purpose at all playcalls. Witness the series that began on the Cleve 34, after Hank�s superb 27-yard punt return near the end of the 3rd qtr. Gaypride, as is his nature, WASTED 1st down, by running the ever-dangerous Jon Witman on a plunge for 2 yards. On 2nd down, Graham was sacked by C. Brown. On 3rd down, Graham was harassed into a pitiful thrown to no one, except a Brown DB who dropped an easy INT. Instead of getting at least 3 points from golden field position, we punt. This was the them the entire 2nd half � we had golden field position, and Gaypride played turtle, or called an imbecilic HB Option pass in which Bettis a.) acted poorly on this play, giving away any surprise at all, and b.) appeared to never have practiced this throw since perhaps day 3 of training camp. The worst, of course, was on the game�s final drive. Following a TO, the Stillers had 1st and goal on the 8, with 35 seconds left. Presumably, 2 plays were called on the sideline during the TO, in case the 1st play didn�t stop the clock. The 1st play was a totally WASTED play, a draw to Fu that netted 1 yard, but more importantly failed to stop the clock. Apparently, the decision during the TO, was that this piece of shit play would be followed, not by an EZ lob that would eat all of 3 seconds of clock, but a spike to stop the clock. On 3rd down, whatever was called � and it was not a quick lob to the EZ -- didn�t materialize. You cannot call a "stand and survey the defense" kind of a play, on 3rd down with no TOs --- the play MUST be quick fade to the EZ or some other quick, 3-step-drop-and-throw pass. This is as inept clock management and imbecilic offensive football as ANYTHING you will see in the NFL this season. There are high school teams who make better use of the clock, and know well enough to take a stab at the EZ, than play turtle and play with fire by having a totally immobile QB hold onto the ball with no TOs. Gaypride had a sure mismatch with Burress for a lob at game�s end, but refused to line him up isolated on 1 side while spreading WRs on the other side of the formation. F.
Def Coord: I had high hopes for Tim Lewis, and I actually believed the cock and bull preaching he gave the local media, as far his saying how the defense was going to have a renewed emphasis on pressure, in-your-face football. Those hopes are rapidly vanishing, as Lewis is turning out to be another vanilla-loving Jim Asslet. Facing a mediocre Browns OL, which was missing a starting OG, the Stillers never once sacked Couch. Worse, they harassed him only once in the ENTIRE game. Otherwise, Couch had LOADS of time to peruse the entire field and spot receivers running ridiculous 7 seconds patterns. Lewis also was totally unprepared for the Browns offense, despite having 2 full weeks to prepare for them, as his D gave up 14 points in the 1st 2 possessions. D-.
Head Coach: Let us forever put an end to the rationalizing, sob-storying, and excuse-making for Field Goal Bill. From "he doesn�t have enough talent", to "he�s got a young team", there�s enough excuses for Cowher to fill up Lake Erie. Cowher is provided a 1st round, big studly WR, and he refuses, with 2 weeks of preparation, to build schemes to get the guy the damn ball. Cowher has 2 weeks to prepare for Clev, yet his befuddled defense gets manhandled and blistered for 2 TDs before the beer vendor makes sells his first crate of beers. And the playing of turtle on those possessions in the 2nd half, was ALL Cowher. The end of the game�s final drive, was an EXACT XEROX of the Thanksgiving Day loss to Detroit in �98, when Cowher played turtle after the team marched to the Detroit 10 (or so), and rather than try for the winning FG, Cowhead ADMITTED, "I got scared" and had Norm kick the tying FG after plunging the ball. Once again, Cowher � who plays NOT TO LOSE, rather than TO WIN, got scared, and in the timeout with 35 seconds left, obviously AGREED and concurred with Gaypride�s playcall of the Fu plunge, followed by the spike. You cannot win with any regularity in the NFL, when you play not to lose. This mentality of Cowher�s has obviously pervaded EVERYTHING this organization does, from the construction of game-plans, to game-day playcalls. Let the record show that this game should, without question, be the beginning of the end for Little Billy as the head coach of this football team. A crushing loss to a weak team like this, in which a pro team cannot even take a shot at the end zone from the EIGHT YARD LINE, and then cannot even get off a FG, MUST be blamed on the jackass head coach. Cowher must go. F-.
I said 2 weeks ago, "losing to the Browns would be a sheer and shameful disaster." In part, I was right, but perhaps I was wrong. Yes, it is a sheer and shameful disaster. However, the good news is that this loss will get the wheels in motion for the firing of Little Billy Cowher, which in and of itself, will be a superb day for the Pittsburgh Stillers. Cowher could have easily saved his job with any kind of marginal 6-10 season, so long as his team fought hard, and beat Cleveland. Losing to Cleve, especially in such a despicable, disorganized, goatscrewed manner, will send this team into a tailspin, just like it did last season. You�re now looking at perhaps a 4-win season, and perhaps even another loss to Cleveland, and that will surely send Little Billy packing to the unemployment line, which is where he belongs.
The Still Mill