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What We Learned: Browns - Steelers

The Browns season ends on a whimper.

What a crushing disappointment.

I didn't think we would win, but I didn't think we would get crushed. To hear the crowd cheer for Steeler big plays, to see the Browns play easily their worst game of the season, leaves a horrible taste in my mouth. The Browns go into an offseason filled with questions and doubt. 

Wash, rinse, repeat.

On to the five...

1. The Browns' worst effort, and result, comes at the very worst time for Eric Mangini. He is scheduled to meet with Mike Holmgren on Monday, and in all likelihood will find out if he is still the coach of the Cleveland Browns.

Put yourself in Mike Holmgren's shoes. The Lerner family has appointed you to be the man to turn this franchise around. Do you feel comfortable allowing Eric Mangini to be the head coach of your football team? 

Going into today, I at best thought Mangini's odds to keep his job were slim. After a 41-9 home loss to your rival, that decision seems like a mere formality. I think Eric Mangini is a good coach, and if given time he could create a playoff level team. But I do not believe that he is a Super Bowl-level coach. When the guy looking over your shoulder is a Super Bowl-level coach, you have no room for error.

If I had to guess right now, I think there is a 60% chance Jon Gruden is our next head coach, 35% it is Mike Holmgren, and 5% chance it is either Marty Mornhinweg or Steve Mariucci.

2. Colt made some poor decisions today, making it two weeks in a row that he has struggled.

But we need to remember, this was a guy that wasn't even supposed to see the field this season. Now he has a half-season under his belt and a quarterback rating in the mid-80s. That looks pretty good to me. I think Colt McCoy can become a good quarterback in this league, maybe not the level of a Peyton Manning, but he can be a Troy Aikman. 

Sounds like a good deal to me.

3. The Browns have to address the line of scrimmage this offseason. We need at least two more good defensive lineman, and two more good offensive lineman. 

With the style of 3-4 we run, finding a good fit at DE shouldn't be too difficult. We don't have to have the Richard Seymour type impact 3-4 DE, I would settle for the Robaire Smith type player. We need bodies and we need them healthy and young.

As for the offensive side, the fact that the coaching staff trusted John St. Clair more than they trusted Shuan Luavao isn't a good sign. But, he is another youngster that should get better this offseason, although we can't depend on him taking a step ahead in his development. We need to add some talent either in free agency or the draft. If the Browns can somehow trade down, a guy to keep an eye on in the draft is Gabe Carimi from Wisconsin. A road grader that would be a wonderful bookend to his fellow Badger, Joe Thomas.

4. I like Tabasco on my crow, thank you very much.

I have been all over Brian Robiskie this season and last. I didn't like the pick when it was made, and Robiskie didn't do much to make me change my mind.

But over the past three weeks he has done just that. He is doing a better job at getting open and It helps that Colt McCoy has done a good job at giving him chances to make plays. Add in the fact that when McCoy has gone deep to MoMass, he has done a poor job of fighting for the ball in air, I think McCoy is getting more comfortable throwing to Robiskie than Massaquoi.

I don't know if Robiskie will ever be a good No. 1 or No. 2 WR in this league, but at least he now looks like he belongs on a NFL field.

5. This is going to sound really, really bad.

I don't blame anyone who sold their ticket to this game. It made me sick to see so many Steeler fans in the crowd, but I would have done the same thing. I love the Browns. I probably love them a little too much. But if I paid money through the nose to have season tickets, yet was offered money for my seats for the season finale of a 5-10 football team that has zero creativity offensively? I would have taken the money and ran.

Don't blame me. Blame the Browns. Hopefully next season, Browns fans will want to show up and watch the season finale. It has been years since that game has actually mattered.

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