The Browns pulled out all the stops on Sunday, playing like it was the Super Bowl. In reality, they were just a 1-5 team playing the defending Super Bowl champs. So why the sudden change in the game plan?
Through the first six weeks the Browns played the most boring, nondescript, old-fashioned style of football you could play. They handed the ball off to Peyton Hillis who ran straight ahead. Then they lined up and did it again. And again.
Despite having playmakers like Josh Cribbs, Senaca Wallace and Jerome Harrison at their disposal, the Browns coaching staff played it safe for six straight weeks. That style of football kept them in every game, but it also resulted in five losses.
So I ask again, why the sudden change?
Maybe Eric Mangini feared for his job. Mike Holmgren hasn’t publicly questioned Mangini this season, but if they were going to make a change this would be the week to do it. The Browns are entering their bye week which is often a convenient time to make a coaching change.
Perhaps Mangini was feeling pressured – be it real or imagined – and decided to put it all on the line against the Saints. That’s the only logical explanation I have for how a team that wasn’t even creative to make Josh Cribbs a significant part of their offense suddenly turned to fake punts and halfback passes to pull off an upset of the Saints.
It’s just a theory, but there may be something to it.