Rapid Reaction: Cleveland Browns
November, 24, 2013
By Pat McManamon | ESPN.com
CLEVELAND -- A few thoughts on the Cleveland Browns’ 27-11 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
What it means: That Pittsburgh is making a playoff march, and the Browns are fading fast. For Cleveland, this is two consecutive division games, two consecutive bad losses -- by 21 and 16 points. It’s always iffy to talk big, because a team trying to reach a certain level can wind up embarrassed. That’s what happened the last two weeks. T.J. Ward said it properly: The Browns are not ready to compete with the older brothers in the AFC North.
Stock watch: These two losses should not affect anyone’s thinking about coach Rob Chudzinski. He somehow had the Browns at 4-5 despite three different starting quarterbacks and a nonexistent running game. That the Browns are not ready to beat Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the AFC North should come as no surprise given the talent level, and given the fact that the Browns have started three quarterbacks and the Steelers have Ben Roethlisberger. That said, being 4-7 after these two games has to be a disappointment given the fact that some people were actually talking two weeks ago about the Browns winning the division.
Where was the flag? A key play in the game happened in the third quarter when William Gay blitzed, came clean and sacked Jason Campbell to force a fumble. Will Allen returned the turnover to the Browns' 4-yard line, and the Steelers then scored to take a commanding 20-3 lead. But Gay clearly hit Campbell in the face mask on the rush, to the point that Campbell left to be examined for a concussion. No flag was thrown.
Now what: Campbell was driven off the field on a cart to be examined for a concussion. If Campbell has one and cannot play next weekend, it means Brandon Weeden would be the only quarterback on the Browns' roster. Not only would they likely have to head into the game against Jacksonville with Weeden as the starter, they’d have to sign at least one more quarterback to be the backup.
What’s next: The Jacksonville Jaguars travel to Cleveland to face the Browns in a game that Weeden probably will start. If the Browns lose to the Jags, it might be time to start thinking about moving the team. That’s how nasty things will get in Cleveland.