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What We Learned: Browns - Bills

What we learned in Sunday's disappointing 13-6 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

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I posted it on Dawgsbynature.com, this game scared me. I couldn't put my finger on it, but the combination of the Bills' ability to score and the Browns' curious issue to play down to their opponent, this one worried me.

Today was a boring, sloppy game to watch. Today's game could be the signal of things to come here in Cleveland.

On to the five...

1. This is exactly what I feared when the Browns signed Jake Delhomme.

The Bills were smart after the first drive. They dared Delhomme to beat them deep. They packed the box and turned the WR's deep. They took Ben Watson away and dared Delhomme to win the game for the Browns. Delhomme answered with another poor game filled with interceptions and poor decision making.

The best example was right before halftime. Browns got the ball on Buffalo's 45-yard line with two timeouts and :10 on the clock. We had the entire field to work with. Jake Delhomme throws a check down for three yards and burns 7 seconds off the clock. Browns blow a shot at getting into position for a field goal opportunity.

How is that throw made by a veteran quarterback? That is a mistake a rookie shouldn't make. Excuse the broken record, but Jake Delhomme isn't a starting QB in this league.

2. Peyton Hillis is a fantastic running back, but he needs to hold on to the ball. It doesn't matter how good a RB is, if he can't hold on to the football, he shouldn't be on the field (see the 2009 NFC Championship game).

I don't know if he needs to adopt the Tiki Barber style of carrying the ball, or just a better effort in holding on to the ball, but something needs to change. 

If Hillis can't this problem under control, he won't be the number one back for the Browns next season. His nine fumbles are the worst in the NFL. Ahmad Bradshaw, a guy who lost his starting job because of fumbles, is next in line with six. 

3. This Browns team is boring to watch without McCoy. They have no spark, no energy. It looks like a scrimmage. The lack of explosive plays doesn't do them any favors either.

It doesn't really matter when the team wins, like last weeks snooze-fest against Miami. A win is a win. But, when the team is boring and they lose, it is excruciating. I'm not advocating that the Browns start using a run and gun type offense, but this offense is predictable and mundane. 

We are in dire need of playmakers. We have Hillis and....and..... well no one else really. Ben Watson has been great but isn't a true playmaker. I have felt all season that the Browns need a first round pass rusher in the draft, but if a play making wide receiver is there in April, it may be time to bite the bullet.

4. I think today could be the game we look back and say, "that is the game that cost Eric Mangini his job." I'm not saying that he should be fired. Honestly, I don't know where I am on that subject right now. The fact that the Browns were outplayed in every facet of the game by a two win team, is a huge disappointment for a team that was on the fringe of the playoff picture on Sunday morning.

Firing Mangini wouldn't be a complete rebuild. This would be a re-tooling. The Browns would obviously keep Holmgren and Heckert. If the Browns did decide to make a change, Ohio native and former Holmgren understudy, Jon Gruden would be the leader in the clubhouse for the Browns job.

5. Josh Cribbs needs to be shut down. Not for a week or two, I think it should be for the season. 

He doesn't have the explosiveness that we have come to expect from him, and you can see how much it is hurting him. Playing with his injury is not only painful, but at this point in the season, a waste. 

Put him on the shelf, allow him to regain his healthy and let him attack next season 100%. When the Browns kept playing Peyton Hillis in weeks 5-7, even though he was clearly injured, hurt his performance. Who is too say that if he was given Week 5 off, he would have been able to produce in weeks 6 and 7? No matter what, Josh Cribbs isn't the Cribbs of old, here is too hoping that the Browns take the cautious approach with the all-world return man.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.