A loss isn’t easy to swallow. Especially when the Browns went into half time with a lead and looking as if they could manage just enough on offense and defense to steal a victory. But, the second half was a debacle that made this team look as inept as any other reincarnation of this franchise since it’s return in 1999. Once again fans were left feeling cheated by all the offseason promises.
Looking a little more closely though, there was a difference in this group of Browns players and coaches. Baby steps were taken in this season opener. That isn’t to say we should expect the lights to go on overnight. Too many players have to develop and chemistry has to be built on both sides of the ball. But, there were bright spots.
First and foremost, the defense put forth a solid effort that frustrated the Viking’s pass attack and ground game, if only for the first half. Having all Browns players on the field and working together in a cohesive fashion should provide fans hope. There was solid play by the defensive line and Abram Elam came up with some huge plays from the safety position. Things can only get better from here.
Next, it was good to see Jamal Lewis show some bursts of speed and power on the ground. We will need him to play well if we expect to win any games at all this season. Plus, James Davis saw a lot of action. The rookie got a taste of the NFL game and did it with a lot of poise. Especially considering he was in a car accident the night before. His youth and legs will be indispensable late in the season when Lewis’ body starts to betray him, so seeing him get so many touches in Game 1 was important. Both players will be key for this team to excel.
Finally, Brady Quinn made it through a game where he was looked to for leadership and although he couldn’t steal a victory, he walked away healthy enough to be back for week two. He made plenty of mistakes but they were finally his to make. He wasn’t looking over his shoulder or battling a nagging injury. He made some good throws and he made some bad ones. But, he took the steps necessary to gain respect from his offense.
What needs to happen now is for Braylon Edwards to start playing like he is a difference maker. He needs to make his presence felt, whether the ball comes his way or not. Even if that means lining up and leaving behind the mistakes like false starts and late blocks, he will be one step closer to helping this team win. He makes too much money, has too much talent and means too much to this team to disappear.
The disappointment tastes bitter. It is going to be a long season. But, these baby steps will bring us a bit closer to where we want to be as a team. We don’t want to be patient, we’ve been through enough. We just don’t have a choice right now.
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