I’m pretty sure that’s not the first time I’ve used that headline. If that’s the case, I guess the news really isn’t all that breaking. Oh well, coming off of a bye week in which we were promised so much and delivered so little, this headline almost seems to sum up the situation perfectly. It’s almost as if we were expecting something different for reason not known to anyone.
In my preview of the game on Thursday, I predicted that this would be a close blowout. One of those games where it feels like a complete mismatch and blowout about 95% of the game and somehow the score won’t adequately reflect that. Did I ever hit that one on the head or what? I predicted a final score of 24-14. It ended up 24-17. Did I cover the spread on that one?
Tell me if this sounds familiar. Yesterday the Browns offense looked anemic, incompetent, and downright awful at
times. I think I could have used those words to describe any of the four games that preceded it. Glad to see they’re making progress under first year head coach Pat Shurmur who was brought to Cleveland, after all, to be an offensive mastermind. So much for that. All the Browns have been able to do this season is mastermind the group suicide of their fan base. Again, tell me if you’ve heard that before…
There was no progress made in the two weeks separating the Browns two most recent games. The offense failed to find its rhythm early on or move the ball with any sort of regularity. They also failed to find a true identity. Is this a pass first team or a run first team? I understand that Peyton Hillis’ mystery hamstring injury didn’t help matters any, but at least with Eric Mangini we knew the Browns were going to come out and punch the other team in the mouth on the ground. Under Pat Shurmur it’s been anything but that.
So far this season, Shurmur’s offense has been a conglomeration of bad play calls and puzzling personnel decisions. Players seem to come in and out of favor with little to no reason. Where was Ben Watson yesterday afternoon and why did it seem like early on his snaps were going to Alex Smith? What did Smith do in two weeks without any games that warranted targets over Watson? Why does Montario Hardesty continue to get the bulk of the work load and why do they insist on throwing the ball to him?
The only redeeming point from yesterday’s game was the performance of Greg Little. Getting his first career start, Little finished the day with six catches for 72 yards. He showed an ability to get open and make plays with the ball in his hands. That’s something we haven’t really been able to say about any other receiver on the Browns this year or any other recent year. It’s the one lone positive I feel like we can all take away from the game. It’ll be interesting to see how Little responds and how defenses plan to scheme around him moving forward.
As for Colt McCoy… not good man, not good. While he finished 21-45 for 215 yards and two touchdowns, he pretty much looked terrible. He failed to properly read the defensive fronts presented by the Raiders and failed to call out the proper protection schemes. As a result, McCoy spent a better majority of his day either running for his life or lying flat on his back writing in pain. Seriously, some women of the night would say McCoy spent a lot of time on his back. Again, I don’t think its time to give up McCoy just yet, but the fact that there was no improvement coming off of a bye week is a bit alarming. Still, that has to reflect on the coaching staff. They have to game plan and get their players ready to play. They didn’t do that this week.
Anyways, how well did they complete my keys to victory?
1. Stop Darren McFadden: Darren McFadden didn’t have a super human type of day, but he had a good day none the less rushing 20 times for 91 yards and a touchdown. In reality it could have been a lot worse, especially since Jason Campbell was lost early to a broken collar bone. Then again, the Raiders did lose an entire offensive possession when Jacoby Ford returned a second quarter kick off 101 yards to the house. Which brings me to my second point…
2. Get the crowd out of it early: Nothing gets a crowd out of a game quite like a kick return for a touchdown. Then you realize it was the home team that returned said kick and it becomes the exact opposite. The Browns had just scored and possibly gotten back into the game when Ford ran the Phil Dawson kickoff all the way back… untouched. Oh, and a fake field goal for a touchdown didn’t help matters much either. They lost their QB for the year, replaced him with the always awful, former Browns killer Kyle Boller and were commemorating the death of their owner. This should have been an easy task… but no.
3. Balance the offensive attack: Let’s see… 45 passes compared to 21 runs… fail. Epic fail.
4. Keep the bone headed plays to a minimum: Illegal shift penalties are beginning to run rampant. How hard is it to not have two guys in motion at the same time? Apparently very hard for the Browns.
5. Maximize the usage of Greg Little: I explained it already above and I’ll say it again. This was the one thing they were actually able to do right. Now the real question is can they find a way to do it again and again. This could be a bit difficult considering the fact that Josh Cribbs is now crying about his lack of a roll in the offense, Ben Watson should be chiming in any day now about his roll, and the rest of the offensive skill players have already had their say. Not to mention, the Peyton Hillis conundrum is still hanging over everyone’s head.
Oh well, at least we play the Seahawks this week. We can beat them… right?