OK, so Sunday didn’t go particularly well. The Browns came out and played a vastly uninspiring game while the Indians were busy being dominated by Daisuke Matsuzaka (!?) a few blocks away. Both sides eventually lost their respective contests, leaving one of those “Uh… What just happened?” kinds of feelings behind.
Flashback to Saturday night for a moment, and take a second to reflect on the widespread mood among sports fans on the north coast. Despite what feels like a season that couldn’t possibly end in a playoff berth, the Indians sat just one game out of the second Wild Card spot. With a new season on the horizon, the Browns were riding a little bit of preseason love from the media into their opener against the Dolphins.
It wasn’t the best way to end the week, but there’s no reason to panic. After all, Cleveland is nothing if not resilient/numb to losing. The Indians now sit just two games out of a playoff spot, and the Browns remain tied for the lead in the AFC North after the rest of the division lost their openers.
At FirstEnergy Stadium, we learned a few things about this year’s Browns team. They are as follows (list time!):
– Phil Dawson needs to end this horrible nightmare and come back home. Billy Cundiff is basically like your first conversation with a girl you only marginally like after the end of a longtime relationship with someone you still really like.
– Oniel Cousins isn’t going to cut it. Probably ever. When he wasn’t committing penalties, he wasn’t doing anything to help Brandon Weeden from being sacked five times. It’s unfair to judge Weeden too harshly in this game, but he certainly wasn’t without blame. His first interception doubled as a nice punt, because he was about to be sacked anyway.
– Trent Richardson needs to touch the ball way more than 15 times total in a game, and the fact that he didn’t is unacceptable. When he did get the ball, he showed that he’s clearly the most talented player in the Cleveland offense outside of Joe Thomas. Not that we didn’t already know that.
– Jordan Cameron is even better than Matthew Berry said he was going to be for fantasy owners on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown, and that’s good for everyone involved. His monster day was the highlight for the unit, and Greg Little should study up.
– On the defensive side, Buster Skrine just won’t work on the outside. This week, it made sense for him to be the starter after a strong preseason. Next week, it would be nice to not see him get beat like Brian Hartline beat him on Sunday. Plenty of folks didn’t see a need for him to be out there in the first place, and now that popular opinion has been rejustified.
– The front seven of the Browns’ “D” performed well for the first regular season game. They were also without Ahtyba Rubin and Barkevious Mingo, who will help a pass rush that was already improved against Miami when they return. In the meantime, Paul Kruger, Quentin Groves and Jabaal Sheard provided plenty to be excited about going forward.
Next for the Browns will be the Ravens, which we’ll get to later this week. Kruger can recite their whole playbook verbatim, right?
As for the Indians, they’re into the final stretch with what is probably the most favorable schedule in baseball among playoff contenders. They took two of three from the Mets, with the two wins coming in convincing fashion. Don’t forget about the Tribe. The Royals come to town tonight, so let’s get more than 10 people in the stands. It’s contending baseball in September, and it’s time for the fans to step up and act like it. There’s really no excuse at this point.
Sunday may have been disheartening to a degree, but cheer up, it’s Monday! Get through the day, then settle in to watch a Monday Night Football doubleheader extravaganza. If you’re like me, you’re counting on Arian Foster to rush for 150 yards and three scores to salvage one win out of three freaking fantasy teams. The madness has begun.