Well, that was pretty much awful.
I would have typed this up a lot sooner, I was that heated, but that’s the problem… I was that heated up about what I had just witnessed that I needed a good 24 hours to let things settle down. We’re not quite at 24 hours from the end of the game, but we’re close. Close enough, in fact, that I can now talk about what happened to the Browns yesterday without flying into a hysterical fit of rage and trying to punch holes into walls with my face.
So with that said… What the hell happened yesterday?
For starters, the Browns did everything wrong you could possibly imagine. I’m no expert, I’ve never claimed to be, but out of the five simple things I pointed out yesterday as “keys to victory,” the Browns managed to be successful at none of them. In fact, they did things yesterday that go above and beyond what I mentioned in my morning preview. Allow me to elaborate on all of this and more.
1. Contain Chris Johnson: In the Browns defense, Johnson only ran for 101 yards on 23 carries. That’s not bad considering Chris Johnson is capable of breaking off 80 yard runs and rushing for 200 yards any given day. In all seriousness, even though Johnson averaged more than 4 yards per carry, it didn’t seem like he made much of an impact. There were no wow moments or stretches of the game where Johnson took over. With the exception of a 25 yard scamper, Johnson’s yardage was racked up in a slow, almost methodical manner. I guess you can consider this a positive in the grand scheme of things.
2. Get Greg Little involved: Considering how many times Colt McCoy threw the ball, more on that to come, it would have been hard for Little not to get involved yesterday. At the end of the day, Little had 6 receptions but for only 57 yards. That’s not good, but it’s also not great. A lot of Little’s catches were over the middle or 10 yard out patterns. They never tried to take advantage of a mismatch down the field. Then again, the Browns didn’t do that with any of the receivers. So, kudos to the Browns and McCoy for attempting to get their best, most talented receiver involved in the passing game, but the play selection needs to be better.
3. Balance the offensive attack: Fail. Massive fail. Epic Fail. The Browns offense yesterday was nowhere near balanced. McCoy threw 61 passes and completed 40 of them, both records for a Browns quarterback, and finished with 355 and a touchdown. Did the Browns trade for Tom Brady at some point during the week? Did I not get that memo? There is no reason why Colt McCoy, or any QB for that matter, should be throwing 61 passes. McCoy also had an awful interception on a pass he had no business in throwing returned for a touchdown. Compare that with the 22 rushing attempts and that’s not how the Browns are going to win football games.
Yes, I understand the Browns got down big and were forced to abandon the run, but that doesn’t help explain away the terrible balance in the beginning parts of the game before they got down big. I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it until they can prove otherwise, but the Browns will never win consistently with a 60/20 pass to run ratio. It needs to be close to 50/50 or more run than pass.
On a related note, and this needs to be addressed… What the hell was going on yesterday with Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty? Reports are surfacing that Hillis may or may not of missed last weeks game due to his contract issues rather than strep throat, teammates are upset about the Hillis issue, and the Browns were attempting to send a message by playing Hardesty more. To that I say… “Huh?” The Browns are not a talent rich club. I don’t care what issues there are, or what point you’re trying to prove. This team cannot afford to have its most talented offensive weapon sitting on the sidelines.
“Hardesty was more in the flow of what we were doing.” What was that? Sucking? And don’t give me this crap about they needed to focus on the pass because they were down big. Umm… Hillis caught 61 passes last season. He’s a viable option coming out of the back field. Meanwhile, Montario Hardesty dropped 4 passes at least. Good job, Pat Shurmur. I’m frustrated. It’s time to move on to the next point before I stroke out.
4. Score in the first quarter: Well, they scored in the first quarter… and then that was basically it. Look, if I had known scoring in the first would mean not scoring at all again until the game is decided then go ahead, go scoreless in the first quarter. Even still, the Browns were only able to squeak out a field goal. So while it is an improvement, it’s by no means a sign of improvement. If anything it only shows that this is still very much a work in progress and the offense has a long way to go before it’s able to instill fear in anyone.
5. Protect the ball: I’m pretty sure throwing a ball, off of your back foot, while you’re scrambling for your life isn’t “protecting the ball.” The play of which I speak was the pick six Colt threw in which every offensive player for the Browns mailed it in as soon as Jordan Babineaux caught it and started running for the goal line…from his own 3. There was no excuse for the pass and there was no excuse for the lack of effort. Yes, it was the only Browns turnover, but it was the nail in the coffin that put the Titans up 31-6. If ever there was an example of quality over quantity… this was it.
So where do the Browns stand after everything that happened yesterday? In all honesty, I think we learned what we all feared. The Browns aren’t a very good football team. However, I don’t think they’re as bad as they played yesterday. It had the makings of a team with its eyes on the bye week. I expect improvement over what we saw on Sunday, but not much. There are still a lot of holes on this team that is extremely void of talent. If anything, the bye week is coming at the perfect time. It should allow them all to get back on the same page, get healthy, and come out swinging the remainder of the season.