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Posted by Oct - 3 - 2011 0 Comment

Here is the obituary post-game notes from yesterday’s debacle on the lakefront:

  • Just going to get it out of the way for this week, as its been repeated here for 3 weeks now. Pat Shurmur needs an offensive coordinator. One who has done it at the professional level for longer than 15 minutes, unlike the one he has.
  • The one part of the Browns that I didn’t figure on letting them down yesterday was the defense. Regardless of how the offense looked yesterday, the defense was worse. There is no excuse – none whatsoever – for the poor attempts to tackle by Browns defenders yesterday. I heard Mike Ditka say this morning on the radio that tackling in the NFL right now is horrible. In terms of the Browns, that comment would be a compliment. I lost count of how many plays where not only was a poor attempt made at a tackle, but an even worse angle was taken to the point of contact. On a particular play, Sheldon Brown showed up at the ball carrier and did nothing more than drop his head, lower his shoulder, and aim for the thighs of the opponent. No attempt to wrap, no effort to secure the ball carrier to allow his team mates to arrive and help. What is infuriating is that I have seen him do that time and time again since coming to the Browns, and he is one of the veterans on the defense that is supposed to set the example for this young team. He certainly wasn’t alone in his half-hearted attempts to perform the basic function of a defensive player, but if a seasoned vet like him plays that way, what would you expect of the young up-and-comers around him? Pathetic.
  • While ranting on that side of the ball, how does Usama Young explain his inability to take an angle to Jared Cook sufficient enough to nudge him a foot sideways and knock him out of bounds while on his way down the Browns sideline? Fine. You’re coming from the middle of the field and give up probably 60+ lbs Cook, so you’re not going to knock him into next week. But for crying out loud, get on your horse and take an angle to blast him in the side and force him over the big white stripe he’s running right next to! If you push him a foot to his left, he’s headed into the bench. Instead, Cook lumbers on another 40 yards and scores.
  • For all the praise I gave Dick Jauron for his surprisingly aggressive defense over the last couple weeks, his lack of blitzing and inability to put any pressure on Matt Hasselbeck was beyond disappointing. Hasselbeck has all the mobility of my kitchen table, but he’s one of the smartest QBs in the league. He’s seen every kind of defense, and if you give him time, he will make you pay for your temperate effort. For sure he’d seen the Browns on film and know that TEs feast on the Browns secondary. Both of his touchdown passes came on drag routes by the TE across the heart of the Browns defense. (I digress. That last comment states that the defense has a heart. They displayed no such attribute yesterday.) Hasselbeck completed just half of his 20 passes on Sunday, and 3 of them made up two-thirds of his total passing yards and 2 of his 3 TDs. He was rarely, if at all, under any form of pressure. And while RB Chris Johnson had a couple decent runs here and there, he was not the game-changing factor he typically is. A 36 year-old QB who completes just 50% of his pass attempts shouldn’t look like Johnny freaking Unitas the way Hasselbeck did yesterday. (And that’s the Unitas that was in Baltimore, not the one who hung on too long in San Diego.)
  • On offense, for the first time this season the Browns scored first quarter points. (YEAAAAA!) Phil Dawson played his slice well and hooked in an early field goal to get the Browns on the board. The problem soon became however that the Browns would trade field goals for Titan touchdowns, reversing a trend they had been used against Indy and Miami in previous weeks. Now I know the defense is responsible for forcing the Titans to kick FGs, and obviously they didn’t do that. So then the offense must respond and put points on the board, and obviously they didn’t do that. For a team that scored easily in the preseason, they have quickly forgotten the formula for getting the ball into the end zone.
  • The Browns need to get better production from Colt McCoy on a consistent basis, but I will tell you that isn’t all on him. Some of it absolutely is, and rightfully so. For starters, the confidence he had in the pocket during the preseason is gone. Once he takes the snap, the pocket becomes the stage for Riverdance. From the happy feet to the look on his face, you can tell that he is not comfortable back there. In going back to tape from the preseason games, that’s 180 degrees from what he looked like against the Packers and Lions, even the Eagles. He is checking down sooner, and not setting his feet very often. This is due I am sure to the revolving door at right tackle, and having lost his stalwart left guard in Eric Steinbach. Still, at some point he needs to learn to just deal with it and stand in. He looks better out of the pocket, and for a WCO QB, that is a problem.
  • Before I go on, listen (well, read) and listen good. Colt McCoy is not the first nor biggest problem with this Browns offense. Are there problems he needs to take ownership of and improve upon. You betcha. But if you think or believe that the problems with the Browns offense begins with a second-year QB making just 11 starts in two completely different offensive systems over two season with no OTAs in between, you know two things about football: jack and sh*t. You wanna start clambering for Seneca Wallace, you better scream loud. It’s gonna be hard for those of us on the outside to hear you yelling while your head is up your ass.
  • While I could type into the wee hours of the morning about things Pat Shurmur needs to fix with his offense, I will try and keep it to a minimum. First, there is no balance to this offense. Peyton Hillis (your BEST offensive player!) had 10 carries for 46 yards (4.6 yds/carry). Montario Hardesty had 7 carries for 22 yards (3 yds/carry). That’s 17 run plays. Colt McCoy set a team record by throwing the ball 61 times! Obviously when you spot the visitors a 25 point lead, you’re going to need to toss the ball a few times to try and get back in the game. But maybe, just maybe, if you had run the ball with the proper personnel package in situations earlier that called for it, you wouldn’t have spotted the opposition a 3 touchdown lead. Armond Smith should not be getting the ball on 4th and 1 on a gadget backside flip. Peyton Hillis shouldn’t be getting the ball from the upback position in the backfield for a dive into the side of the line that has not had the same two starters two weeks in a row yet. (Note to Shurmur: Downhill runners don’t get their momentum by getting the ball two steps out of their stance and when entering the hole at the line of scrimmage in a short yardage situation. Pat, please write that down somewhere.) And while I know I am going to see it, the next time I see McCoy in the shotgun with a single back on 3rd and 1 at a place on the field that is too far out for a FG and too close to really punt, I am going to throw up. When you have had to go for it on 4th and short as many times as the Browns have so far this young season it means one thing: you suck at handling the play calling for 3rd and short. You have a 250 lb running back that has trucked LBs time and time again, and oh by the way, caught 61 passes last year, a few with one hand. Put your ego aside, Pat. You haven’t earned the right to have one here in Cleveland yet.
  • It is also obvious that Shurmur and his staff really have no idea what they have in the players they have to chose from. I saw no less than seven different personnel packages yesterday, and few of them made sense to me given the where and when of the position on the field and line to gain. Packages with Brian Robiskie, Alex Smith, Jordan Norwood, and Montario Hardesty on the field, and then McCoy lines up in the shotgun. Really? Smith, who catches half of what’s thrown to him, Robiskie, who only has 3 more catches this season than I do, and Norwood who barely made the 53 man roster. Evan Moore is obviously paid to be on the bench with that new contract. Perhaps that is what the plan is with Hillis. This offense has very few consistent (cough) play makers, but you have to play to what strengths you have. Put your best players out there in different looks, and sub them when necessary rather than giving some exotic look to a mundane play. There is an old phrase in motorcycle racing that goes “run what ya brung!” Keep the proven guys on the field, and let the other try and prove themselves when giving the starters a blow. Stop being a mad scientist with your personnel packages in your bastardized WCO.
  • When Montario Hardesty dropped his first catchable pass, you say “that happens”. It shouldn’t, but it does. So you come back to him later with an easy one and get his confidence back and get him into the game. If he drops that, you bring him to the sidelines and ask him what is wrong then tell him to sit for a bit before sending back in to try again sometime later. When he does it again…for the third time in a row and a drive ends, you bring him to the sideline, get in his ear and his undivided attention to remind him he is a professional and this the NFL. Then you take his helmet away from him until the game film review the next day. You don’t allow your players to be put into positions to take what little drive momentum away you are trying to establish.
  • For the love of God…if you are down by more than two touchdowns, run a freaking no-huddle. Hell, McCoy is at his best in the no-huddle. (Probably because Shurmur doesn’t have time to call in some ill-conceived knucklehead play.) There was a disturbing lack of urgency by the Browns yesterday, and it starts with the coaching staff. Teams are a reflection of their coach, and Shurmur has that sort of ‘aw, shucks’ way about him sometimes. Down 31-13 with 9 minutes of football left to play in the day is not the time to get deliberate with your play selection.
  • The lone consistent aspect of the Browns showed through yesterday. While the Titans are a good team, and good enough to beat the Browns, the team that did the most damage to the Browns were…..again… the Browns! The Browns act like that gangly, uncoordinated teenager that’s struggling with a body that’s growing faster than he can learn to control it. Simply put, they cannot get out of their own way. Whether its preventable penalties at inopportune times or execution that I wouldn’t accept from the 5th graders I coach, the Cleveland Browns biggest opponent and impediment to their own success lies in their locker room mirrors. Until that ceases, they will continue to have days like yesterday far too often.
Categories: Cleveland Browns

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