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Posted by Sep - 19 - 2011 0 Comment

This was a game no one outside of Indy or Cleveland wanted to watch, and after week one, you could kind of understand. With just less than four minutes left in the game, no one in Indy was interested either. The Browns are off the schneid having dispatched with the Manning-less Colts 27-19, though the game wasn’t exactly that close. The Colts had a drive here or there that showed teasing moments of brilliance, but for the most part the Browns were the better team on the field. They came in with what was an obvious gameplan, and executed it well enough to earn a road win. There was a steady diet of Peyton Hillis combined with some pretty precise passing by Colt McCoy. The defense had some bend-but-don’t-break moments, then suffocated the Colts when the scoreboard mandated that the Colts throw the ball to survive. The rookie tandem of Jabaal Sheard and Phil Taylor continued to improve with an impressive performance yesterday. T.J. Ward kept Colts TE Dallas Clark from being any sort of factor, and Joe Haden, while penalized early, made it senseless to throw to his side of the field. And…..and….there were no 14 yard punts as the ageless wonder that is Brad Maynard punted well in the Lucas Oil Stadium living room-like conditions.

The Browns win yesterday doesn’t completely absolve them of all that ails them, they did do what you expect a team to do when facing an inferior opponent. There are still plenty of things for them to work on, but there was also proof that some of the things that cost them the opener against Cincinnati won’t be persistent issues all season long. (Like being ready when the opposing offense is.) The Browns play-calling inside the opponent’s 5 yard-line continues to have fans scratching their heads. Some of the personnel packages on offense were curious as well. Why, after scoring a TD early in the 2nd quarter was Evan Moore on the sideline when the Browns had the ball inside the Colt 20? Who do the Browns think they are fooling by handing the ball to Owen Marecic on 3rd and 2? Good kid, nice hands, not a pile mover like Hillis. Sorry. To be fair however, this is week two of a season with no offseason to precede it. There are going to be some more growing pains. (Just so long as those pains don’t land anyone else on IR.)

What I liked Sunday: I liked our defense being more aggressive, especially when the situation called for it. We blitzed cornerbacks, and sent 5, sometimes 6 guys after Kerry Collins and did so in situations where the Colts were looking to move the chains with timing routes.

I also liked seeing Colt McCoy not make silly decisions with the football. He completed 69% of his passes with nary a ball thrown in a dangerous spot. Perhaps his most dangerous pass was a laser he fired at Mo Massaquoi at the Colts 1 yard line that set up Hillis’ first TD. On the run and evading pressure, he threw that ball into a mailbox, and kudos to MoMass for making a nice catch in traffic. I just don’t envision Colt having a ton of games like his last two against Pittsburgh and Baltimore. I think he is a kid that learns quickly from his mistakes, and doesn’t often repeat them.

The more I watch the twin rookies on the D-line, the more excited I get. Sheard and Taylor ate up the Colt line, one that still has Pro Bowlers like Jeff Saturday on it. I am interested to see them against an aging and sometimes suspect O-line in Pittsburgh.

What I did not like: I did not like a 3 wide, single back shotgun formation as often as I saw it inside the Colts 5. Shurmr has to stop getting too cute and go with what we know, even if the defense knows it too. Put the ball in Hillis’ hands, even if you have to do it twice. And if you do throw it, make sure Evan Moore is in the game. Every play inside the opponents 10 this year should have Moore, Greg Little, and Peyton Hillis on the field.

While I love what effort they put in each game, it is clear that time has caught up with Sheldon Brown and Chris Gocong. They are veteran leaders who no doubt have a solid voice in the locker room, but these are guys at positions that we need consistent production from, and they just aren’t getting it done consistently. The lack of depth at LB was an oversight by Tom Heckert this past offeseason. Maybe it was due to the Browns just having so many holes to fill, but in changing to the 4-3, this should have been a priority.

Gameballs: My games balls go to Peyton Hillis, Jabaal Sheard, and Pat Shurmur. Congrats Coach Shurmur on your first win! Get more than 5 of them this year.

Categories: Cleveland Browns

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