Nolan Carroll should be expecting a Christmas card from Jake Delhomme this holiday season. Carroll dropped an easy pick-six late in the fourth. Instead, the Browns punted. That allowed Mike Adams to supply the heroics three plays later.
Feels good to be on the other side of a horrible Quarterback decision doesn't it? On to the five...
1. I am about to make a statement that may seem like hyperbole, but trust me, I mean it. Joe Haden is the Browns best defensive player. I have a ton of respect for TJ Ward, Shaun Rogers and Ahtyba Rubin, but Joe Haden is on a different level. I wouldn't trade Haden for any cornerback in the NFL today. Even Darrelle Revis.
Haden is a difference maker. Every week I make a note about a play that he makes. Every week he gets better than he was the previous week. He defends the run and uses his hands better than any rookie cornerback I have ever seen. I know that he was beaten by a double move on his interception today, but the impressive part of the play is that he reamined calm, and stayed with the play. When Brian Hartline slowed down, Haden didn't panic and run into him or faceguard, instead he got his head around and made the play on the ball. Perfect finish to a horrible start. The deep pass break-up in the first quarter is another example of Haden getting his head around and making a play on the ball before the WR has a chance. Fantastic coverage.
If Haden can continue his development, not only will he become the best player on this team, appologies to Joe Thomas, but he will be the best CB in the NFL within three seasons.
2. What we saw today was the best we can hope from Jake Delhomme. If you are expecting anything more, you aren't paying very close attention. Checking down, never testing the defense deep and every now and then, making a bad decision and hoping the defense doesn't capitalize.
It didn't cost the Browns today because the defense played an amazing game and made Chad Henne look like, well like Jake Delhomme. It's a testament to the rest of the team that the Browns are 2-0 in his past two starts.
3. If you look back at this teams off-season, it sure didn't look fancy. But the under the radar signings of Scott Fujita and Ben Watson are perfect examples of how smart teams get better. Neither one was a huge signing, but they were solid additions that have played much better than the contracts show.
Watson had 10 catches, 100 yards and a touchdown today. He has been a great run blocker as well and has made Robert Royal a complete afterthought. For the season Watson has 50 catches, 574 yards and 3 TD's. By the way, Kellen Winslow has 50 catches, 506 yards and 2 TD's. Not too bad huh?
As much love as the draft class has gotten, and rightfully so, don't forget about Heckert and company working the free agent game as well.
4. Hopefully point number three can help this point. John St. Clair was abused with regularity today. He needs to be replaced this offseason. I'm not clamoring for the front office to use their first round pick on a RT, (Pass Rush please!) but it needs to be addressed.
Floyd Womack has been pretty good at RG, so I would love to add some youth on the right side of him. As for Shawn Lauvao, he seems to have wandered into the coaches doghouse. I'm not sure why, but hopefully he can fight his way back into the line-up. I think the kid has talent, he just needs to be more consistent, and healthy.
5. Phil Dawson has been money his entire career. I want to believe that he has plenty of gas left in the tank, but his short kickoffs, and poor long distance kicking this season (0-3) may lead the Browns to look elsewhere this offseason.
It would be tough to see Phil Dawson leave, he has been here since the return in '99, but as we all know this is a business. In a league where Adam Vinatieri no longer kicks for the New England Patriots, anything is possible. I am hoping that Phil Dawson takes a sip from the fountain of youth and rebounds this season.