The Cleveland Browns, who were the fell-good story of last season, have officially completed their free fall from relevance.
As if a Sunday shutout at the hands of the Bengals wasn’t enough, reports have surfaced that defensive tackle Shaun Smith punched sidelined quarterback Brady Quinn in the face after a weight-room altercation. Browns head coach Romeo Crennel added validity to the reports at his Monday press conference when he didn’t deny that a verbal argument and punch ocurred.
“If it happened, it stays in house,” Crennel said.
Another indication came when Smith was on the inactive list for the Browns Sunday game against the Cincinatti Bengals, although Smith will be available for the season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Apparently, Smith is known for mouthing off in the lockeroom on a weekly basis. He has had several previous lockeroom incidents and Crennel said that Smith’s antics could be irritating to some.
“Yeah, sure, it could potentially rub a guy the wrong way,” Crennel admitted.
The Browns of this year were a far cry from their 2007 season. Quarterback Derrick Anderson, wide receiver Braylon Edwards and tight end Kellen Winslow were all big-time performers last season who didn’t show up this year. Winslow was on and off the injury list, Edwards dropped more balls than any other wide receiver in the NFL and Anderson lost his job to second-year quarterback Quinn.
The Browns’ 11-4 record in 2007 set a precedence they weren’t ready to live up to, as was porved by their 11-4 follow up thus far. They are also sure to lose at Pittsburgh and finish 5-11. Four monday night games assured the Browns that the country wanted to see them, and, in a rare occurrence, high expectations loomed for their season. Unfortantely, they faltered terribly and will have many issues to contend with over the offseason, including the fate of their head coach.