I realize it’s only the first game of the year. I won’t go so far as to say I had high hopes coming into the season, but it seemed to me that things were getting better. Jake Delhomme is obviously on the downside of his career, but he provides a good veteran presence, if nothing else.
In the first half, I saw a lot of things to like as Cleveland took an early 14-3 lead in one of their most winnable games on the schedule this year. And then Jake Delhomme hurt his foot.
I’m not sure what he did to his foot, exactly, but it was obviously hurting him. He was limping around. He wasn’t stepping into his throws at all, leading to him trying to whip the ball on arm-strength alone, which of course led to poor throws.
Fine, let him keep trying. He throws a bad pick, and the Bucs come back to bring the score to 14-10 at the half. I’m thinking to myself that the Browns will obviously take a closer look at Delhomme during the half and notice his foot problem. Clearly they’ll bring in Seneca Wallace and feature more of a Flash/Cyclone package power running game much like the end of last season when the Browns managed to win several to close out the year.
Unfortunately, I was wrong. Eric Mangini kept a gimpy Jake Delhomme in the game, and proceeded to have one decent drive followed by five 3 and outs. Five! And it was obvious that Delhomme was hurting. Sure, Peyton Hillis was having some issues holding onto the football. I can understand being concerned about feeding him the ball. But what about Jerome Harrison? He had only 9 carries. What about Josh Cribbs? He ended the game with 3 whole carries out of the Flash package, and I didn’t even see him lining up at wide receiver until the fourth quarter. Where was Seneca Wallace? Lining up at wide receiver a couple times on the four or five Flash plays that were called?
I realize I’m sounding a bit like an armchair quarterback here, but there is absolutely no reason the Browns should have lost this game. Mike Holmgren needs to admit he made a mistake in retaining Eric Mangini and start his search for a new coach.