This Sunday, there was a reunion of sorts in Cleveland, as Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel, returned to the city he once called home. Crennel coached the Browns from 2005 through 2008, going 24-40, before being fired at the conclusion of the 2008 season.
This season, Crennel and the Chiefs (2-11) were predicted to challenge for the AFC West, but things haven't exactly gone to plan. I mean, when Brady Quinn is the answer, what's the question?
Quinn is returning to the city that drafted him 22nd-overall in the 2007 draft. Quinn, like Crennel never had much success in Cleveland and he was sent to Denver in 2010 as part of a trade for running back Peyton Hillis.
Hillis played his way into the lead back role in 2010 with the Browns, rushing for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns. It was a career year for Hillis and unfortunately he wouldn't match that success again. Hillis's production fell way off in 2011 and he was released at the end of the season.
All three have found their way to the Chiefs some way or another, and they returned Sunday to Cleveland, only to leave with the same results they had grown accustomed to when members of the Browns. This is a different Browns (5-8) team and they have been playing very well recently. The Browns won the game 30-7 and continued their longest winning streak since the 2009 season, at three straight.
The Chiefs may have been suffering from the lingering effects of the tragedy that took place last Saturday at their facility with Jovan Belcher, but regardless, the Browns went out and took care of business. The Browns understand that they all might be playing for their jobs next season, as new team owner Jimmy Haslam has said, everyone will be evaluated at the end of the season.
As with every game played, regardless of record or playoff implications, there are things we can learn about each team. Whether it be a running back like Jamal Charles, or a young-buck returning punts in place of pro-bowler Joshua Cribbs, we will look at five things we learned from Sunday's match-up between the Chiefs and the Browns.
1. Jamaal Charles is back to old 2010 form.
It appeared as though it was going to be a long day for the Browns, and their defense in particular. On the first snap of the game, Charles took a hand-off from Quinn and burst through the line for an 80-yard touchdown run. Little did Kansas City know, that would be the only time they would score all afternoon.
Despite not scoring, Charles ran the ball well all day. He finished the afternoon with 165 yards on 18 carries, for a 9.2 yards per carry. Even without the 80-yard touchdown run, he ran the ball effectively for 85 yards on 17 carries.
In the past three games, the Browns defense was averaging a meager 65.6 rushing yards per game. This was Charles third straight game over 100 yards and four out his last five. With games against the Raiders, Colts, and Broncos, Charles needs just 248 yards to set a new career high for rushing yards in a season. He rushed for 1,447 yards in 2010 and he averaged an outstanding 6.4 yards a carry.
Charles was one of the positives that the Chiefs were counting on this season after missing all but one game last season, due to an injury. He has fulfilled his side of the deal, but the rest of the team has been very suspect at best.
2. Speedster Travis Benjamin poses threat as returner.
The Browns got their first special teams touchdown of the season, on a team-record 93-yard punt return. Rookie Travis Benjamin, not Josh Cribbs, took the punt to the house breaking Eric Metcalf's franchise-record. Cribbs is the most prolific returner in Browns history, but Benjamin showed the speed and vision needed to be a successful punt returner in the league.
It was Benjamin's punt return that gave the Browns the 10-7 lead heading into half-time, and the Browns wouldn't look back, winning the game 30-7. For Benjamin, he has found a tough time getting on the field behind receivers Greg Little and rookie Josh Gordon, from Baylor. Benjamin has ten catches for 140 yards and one touchdown.
Could Benjamin be a glimpse of the future for the Browns special teams? Since Cribbs magical season of 2009, where he had three kickoff returns for touchdowns and one punt return for a touchdown, he has had only one return for a touchdown in his past 214-plus returns.
It will be interesting to see if the Browns continue to use Benjamin more as a returner in the remaining three games this season.
3. Kansas City needs a quarterback.
If the Kansas City Chiefs have any hopes of competing in the AFC West again, they are going to need to acquire a legitimate franchise-type quarterback before the beginning of next season. Quinn lacks the tools needed to play the quarterback position at a championship level and he will always be a number-two at best.
Heading into the season, Matt Cassel was the starting quarterback and Quinn was the back-up. Cassel struggled early on, as did the Chiefs. Cassel was unable to manage the games and not turn the ball over. Through his first eight games, Cassel threw 12 interceptions and was eventually replaced by Crennel, with Quinn.
Last week, Quinn had a solid performance, leading the Chiefs to a 27-21 win over the Carolina Panthers. After the game, he gave a very emotional press conference, reacting to the Belcher tragedy that occurred earlier that morning.
This week, Quinn failed to find the end-zone and completed only 10 of 21 passes for 159 yards and one interception. It has been rumored that Crennel may be out, in Kansas City at the end of the season and if that's the case, it is likely Quinn and Cassel will be as well.
4. The Browns defense continues to gel together.
A strength of the 2012 Browns team has been their ruthless defense. The Browns started the season, by forcing five turnovers against the Eagles. They have continued that success on the defensive side of the ball for most of the season.
The Browns are tied with the Texans in fifth place, for the most turnovers this sesaon, with 26 (14 interceptions, 12 fumble recoveries). The front four of Jabaal Sheard, Frostee Rucker, Ahtyba Rubin, and Phil Taylor are causing havoc in the trenches for opposing offenses and Joe Hadden is a premiere shut down corner on the back end.
In today's game against the Chiefs, the Browns defense had another five sacks and an interception. Going back the last four weeks, this defense has been dominant, including eight forced turnovers against the Steelers in week 12.
It will be interesting to see if Dick Jauron stays on as the defensive coordinator, who has done a tremendous job this season, or if the team will go in a different direction. Let's hope not, because it is fun to watch this young defense play aggresive and go after the ball.
5. Trent Richardson tied Jim Brown's rookie record for rushing touchdowns.
Before Sunday's game, Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson, had 7 rushing touchdowns on the season. After finding the end zone twice on Sunday, he tied Jim Brown's rookie record of nine rushing touchdowns.
Any time you are mentioned in the same sentence as Jim Brown, you must be doing something right. And Richardson has been. After being selected with the third-overall pick in this years draft, Cleveland has found a building block on offense.
Richardson is a strong and durable back, capable of breaking a long run and just as capable at lowering his shoulder and delivering a load, knocking back would-be tacklers. Richardson has 869 yards on the season and should finish well over 1,000 yards with three games left.
It should be noted that Richardson is not only running the ball well, but he leads the Browns in receptions with 45 for an additional 348 yards. He is part of a solid young nucleus that could have the Browns winning many more games in the future.