One must check overhead whenever the Browns take the field. There have to be some vultures circling somewhere. A sense of doom follows this team around.
Those who complained that the Browns rarely get off to a fast start must now find another excuse. They bolted to a 14-0 lead against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, but the cracks on defense quickly began to show and the dam soon burst.
The result was a 41-27 loss and an 0-5 record that spotlights the Browns as the only winless team in the NFL.
The two interceptions tossed by QB Brandon Weeden couldn't have been timed any worse. The first clearly handed the momentum to the Giants late in the first half and the second prevented the Browns from sneaking to within a touchdown in the fourth quarter. But he did throw two scoring strikes to emerging Josh Gordon, and fellow WR Jordan Norwood enjoyed a breakout game with nine receptions. And RB Trent Richardson averaged 4.8 yards per carry. The offensive line kept Weeden clean against a notorious pass rush. Overall, a fine effort.
Previous game’s grade: B
On the other hand, this unit was shredded for 503 yards overall, including 200 by RB Ahmad Bradshaw, who had managed just one 100-yard game since 2010. A Browns pass rush that entered with 13 sacks never got close to Giants QB Eli Manning. And a secondary that lost CB Dimitri Patterson after the first half and was still missing premier CB Joe Haden (suspension) was picked apart from beginning to end. The losses of MLB D’Qwell Jackson (concussion) late in the first quarter and DT Ahtyba Rubin in the second half proved devastating to the run defense.
Previous game’s grade: B
Special teams: B
Outside of a silly neutral-zone infraction on rookie Tank Carder in punt coverage that allowed the Giants to maintain possession, this was a good performance. PK Phil Dawson was, as usual, perfect, and returner Josh Cribbs nearly took one to the house. The kickoff coverage was quite good, even pinning the Giants back on their own 8-yard-line after the touchdown that gave the Browns a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
Previous game’s grade: C+
The play that has Northeast Ohio talking on Monday occurred late in the second quarter and wrecked the Browns momentum. Leading 17-10, they had a third-and-1 at the New York 25. Richardson, who had been running roughshod over the Giants, was removed in favor of Chris Ogbonnaya, who wasn't even lined up in a position that threatened a run. Weeden rolled right and threw against his body. The result was an interception and, eventually, a touchdown that tied the game. The Browns never recovered. Not leaving Richardson in the game to at least give the Giants a notion that a run was possible cannot be defended. Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Dick Jauron did nothing to spur a badly needed pass rush against Manning. This wasn't the coaching performance Pat Shurmur needed with new owner-to-be Jimmy Haslam nine days from taking over.
Previous game’s grade: A-
Stay dialed in on the Cleveland Browns on Twitter at @CBSBrowns throughout the season with on-site updates from CBSSports.com RapidReports correspondent Marty Gitlin.