By Tony Grossi
Browns v. Chiefs … in Four Downs
1. First Down: Déjà vu three in a row.
The last time the Browns won three games in a row was when they won four straight to close the 2009 season. In that streak, the Browns beat Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Oakland and Jacksonville. Fast forward three years later. The Browns have defeated Pittsburgh and Oakland the last two games. Next up: Kansas City.
2. Second Down: The crazy ex-girlfriend effect.
Peyton Hillis likened Joe Thomas’ critical comments about his former teammate this week to the scourge of a “crazy ex-girlfriend.” There are a few “ex-girlfriends” returning to Cleveland today wearing Chiefs’ uniforms. At the top of the list now is Hillis, who has all of 193 yards rushing and one TD on the season as a role player. Hillis may be motivated by Thomas calling him out for creating a season-long “toxic” distraction to the team last year by willingly keeping himself out of games because of failed contract talks. Another former Brown with ample motivation today is offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who departed with the firing of Eric Mangini after the 2010 season. While with the Browns, Daboll extracted revenge on the Patriots, another former team, with a 34-14 upset victory. The list of former Browns also includes coach Romeo Crennel, quarterback Brady Quinn and safety Abe Elam.
3. Third Down: Romeo’s revenge?
Crennel was fired in Cleveland after a 24-40 record in four seasons. His return today makes him the fifth coach in history to face his former Browns team. The others have posted a record of 18-15-1 against the Browns with their new teams. Of the four previous coaches, Hall of Famer Paul Brown has the worst record against the Browns (5-7). That was aided, of course, by the fact the Browns beat up on Brown’s expansion Cincinnati Bengals in six of their first seven meetings. Once Brown’s Bengals grew up, they whipped the Browns in four of the last five meetings. Other coaches records against their former Browns team: Forrest Gregg was 4-4, Bill Belichick was 4-2 and Marty Schottenheimer was 5-2-1.
4. Fourth Down: Sorry, Charlie.
Running back Jamaal Charles figures to be the Chiefs’ best hope at generating some offense. The three-time 1,000-yard rusher (he already topped that mark through 12 games this season) had a 154-yard game against the Browns in a 2009 loss in Kansas City. The Browns’ run defense has been on a roll since tackles Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin reunited for the first time this year. In their three games together, the Browns have limited opponents to team rushing totals of 63, 49 and 85 yards. That clampdown has improved the Browns’ ranking against the run to 17th in the NFL – their highest mark in the expansion era.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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