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What We Learned: Browns - Bengals

What we learned from today's disappointing loss to the Bengals

I don't like the Bengals. I don't hate them like I hate the Steelers and Ravens, but I don't like them. They are like a pebble in my shoe. You can see that the teams weren't too fond of each other either. Pushing and shoving after the play, extended heated exchanges after the whistle. I love divisional games, and I love that the NFL has back loaded schedules this season. Tight playoff races and familiarity should make for some chippy games.

On to the five.....

1. I had horrible flashbacks watching the game. Cedric Benson was gashing the Browns run defense. As good as this unit has been this season, today was a disappointment. It wasn't just Benson running hard either, Bernard Scott had no problem finding huge holes either.

I'm not pressing the panic button, at this point would it matter, but today reminds us that the Browns are lacking athleticism at the LB position and youth at the defensive line. It is truly remarkable at what Rob Ryan has done with what he has.

But today when the Browns needed a stop, they couldn't get it. It has been awhile since I have said that the Browns run defense cost them the game today.

2. This was a game that Eric Mangini desperately needed to win. The final two (Ravens and Steelers) figure to be two tough games. If the Browns finish up the season on a four game losing streak, it will be the really tough for Mangini to stick around.

Last season's four game winning streak at the end of the season was a factor, possibly the biggest, in Mike Holmgren keeping Mangini for this season. I have a hard time imagining that Holmgren would view a 5-11 record finished with a four game losing skid as progress.

I do think Mangini has this team pointed in the right direction, but I don't think he will be the coach to get them there.

3. I will say it first. He is still a rookie.

I need to see Colt McCoy attack the edges more. I don't know if this is coached, as the other quarterbacks didn't do much of that either, but it needs to be addressed. As we saw last week, defenses will start to fill up the middle of the field.

Colt had his ups and downs Sunday. He got away with at least two passes that were close to being pick sixed, but overall his passes were crisp, outside of a horrid looking duck to Cribbs early. His TD pass to Brian Robiskie was as scary as they come as well. Coming off a lay-off, it was a good start for the rookie. 

If Colt McCoy can have two good starts to close the season, it would do a lot to put any sort of quarterback questions to bed this offseason.

4. Going into this season the big question was could the Browns afford to re-sign Eric Wright? How things have changed. A lot has been said about Eric Wright this season, most of it bad. I'm not saying that he hasn't deserved some of it, but he has been unfairly criticized a lot.

His injury today did not look good, and I hope that he won't miss any time. Many fans have called for Wright to be cut or sometimes worse. I would prefer that the Browns re-sign Wright in a incentive based contract this offseason. The guy is very talented and could definitely be used here this off-season.

5. Quick final note, Reggie Hodges has been an awesome this season. I'm not talking about the run against New Orleans, even though it was impressive, but the fact that Hodges hasn't put a punt in the end zone since week five. What a weapon for this team to have. 

This team may not be great in many areas, but when it comes to the kicking game, there aren't many better than the Cleveland Browns. Maybe it isn't the best thing, but after a day like today, at least it's something.

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