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What Went Wrong in 2008?

It is not easy to pinpoint exactly what went wrong with our Browns in 2008. Coach Crennel was beloved by the players. The talent was high, in fact higher than the successful year in 2007. The schedule was tougher than the previous season, but then again the Browns played two of their best opponents very well - they slaughtered the Super Bowl Champion Giants, and they held the explosive Colts and Peyton Manning to almost nil offense. They also played well for most of the games against the Ravens and Broncos. A tougher schedule is not the answer. We can dissect every play but that would miss the bigger picture. There is always something larger that contributes to losing more than the sum of all the individual plays. Vince Lombardi used to say that. This fan thinks there are two major things that ruined this past season - not enough "team" in the Browns, and far too little passion. Every team has internal strife, but the Browns had it more pronounced and more public in 2008. Jamal Lewis questioned the commitment of some of his teammates. Lewis and defensive lineman Smith did not get along. Some offensive linemen like Fraley were upset at the benching of Anderson. And nearly everyone resented Edwards and his poor play. All of that contributed to a lack of teamwork - it is an intangible that cannot be underestimated. Part of the problem was Crennel. I like Romeo - he seems to be a good man. He is an experienced coach with deep knowledge of defensive play. But being loved by the players is not equated with being respected by the players. In hindsight, Crennel was too soft and, at times, indecisive. Edwards should have been benched for all the dropped passes, period. Second is the issue of passion. Spirit is something that motivates and drives a team to success. Big Baby has passion - you see it when he jumps up from a tackle or a blocked field goal and shows his excitement all over his body and in his face; you see it when he is on the sideline cheering for his team members; you see it when he rides his fellow linemates to do better. The Browns need more players who are not afraid to show their passion openly like Rogers. By doing that it sparks the Team, especially the younger players. Remember that last home game against the Bengals in the numbing winds and the freezing temperatures? It was the Battle of Ohio. It was a division rivalry. It was potentially a battle to stay out of the basement of the AFC North. It was a battle for pride if not for anything else. Yet the Browns played with absolutely no urgency. No passion. They should have been taking chances to win, both the coaches and the players. Throw the red flag when it looks like the Bengals punt receiver touched the ball - eventually the flag was thrown but only after the fans demanded it. It turned out to be a lost challenge, but who cares for heaven's sake. You can't win if you don't try. This season the Browns have to try harder. The talent is there. New coaches are there. The fans are there. Show us that you want to win as much as we want you to win. Go Browns!
-Clayton
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