I don’t know whether or not I should feel encouraged by what I watched last night or pissed off by the fact that the Browns once again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. I’m leaning towards the latter in all honesty, but not by the same overwhelming margin as normal. Sure they lost, and the way they lost should qualify as cruel and unusual punishment, but there is a sense of pride in the fact that they didn’t suffer a 34-3 drubbing.
I was less than confident heading into yesterday’s game. That’s no secret. I thought the Browns were going to get annihilated in embarrassing fashion on national television. Can you really blame me? What had the Browns shown in the weeks leading up to yesterday’s game that led anyone to believe this would be a game well into the fourth quarter? Absolutely nothing, so I feel like my stance yesterday was more than justified.
What the Browns showed was a level of testicular fortitude we had yet to see all year. They took the Steelers best shots and kept on coming. Driving down the field to start the game was huge for the offense’s confidence moving forward. Getting after Ben Roethlisberger and putting him in a walking boot was another huge positive. Stopping the Steelers for four straight goal to go plays on runs straight up the gut by Rashard Mendenhall was incredible (Chris Gocong went into beast mode).
That’s the good.
Now moving on to the bad.
Pat Shurmur… What the hell are you doing? Fourth and goal from the half yard line on your opening drive and you kick a field goal? You do realize you have Peyton Hillis, right? Couldn’t Colt literally fall in the end zone on a QB sneak? Doesn’t it make more sense to go for it and punch the Steelers in the mouth right out of the gate? Worst case scenario is you don’t get it and the Steelers start their drive from their own 1 yard line. Good luck with that. Instead he opted for the field goal and all momentum and swagger was lost.
Shurmur’s play calling was also a tad bit confusing after the opening drive. The Browns came out throwing the ball all over the place and stretching field. Afterwards… dinks and dunks and three yard run plays. How many times does Montario Hardesty need to run for three yards or less before you realize it’s just not going to work? How about throwing Chris Ogbonnaya out there and see what he can do for more than one play… a play that went for 30+ yards. In the fourth quarter, first and goal from the five and Shurmur decides to run Hardesty for no gain, calls a pass play with zero pass protection for a ten yard loss, and then runs another terrible pass play resulting in an interception. Not good.
However, that’s not to say Colt isn’t completely at fault. There’s no way he can throw that interception in the end zone on third and goal. If it’s not there, throw it away or just try and get back some of the yardage lost on the previous play. Make fourth and goal more manageable. He tried to do too much on one play. Of course, his decision making might have been a bit impaired given the fact he was probably concussed thanks to James Harrison. If that’s the case, he never should have been out there and once again, that falls on Shurmur.
So, the question needs to be asked. Is Colt McCoy the guy or not? Honestly, I don’t think we can really answer that question at this point. Yes, the wins aren’t there and at times he’s looked awful, but at the same time I can’t help but feel like there are reasons for that which are out of his control. Colt is constantly running for his life and doesn’t have the same time other QB’s have. His wide receivers, by all accounts are awful. Seriously, one of his WR’s is a converted QB better known for his kick return and special teams skills and another is a converted running back who missed an entire year of college thanks to NCAA violations. Would it kill the Browns to get one legitimate wide receiver on the roster? Until they do, I don’t think you can make a proper assessment about whether or not Colt should be the guy moving forward.
The final bad point from last night’s game… How do you not go after Ben Roethlisberger when he’s limping around and barely able to move? After he came back into the game, the Browns never touched him, let alone made him move around back there. HOW! How do you not go all out on the blitz and force him to have to make some type of play with his legs? That’s completely unacceptable. Any other defense would smell blood in the water and get after Roethlisberger. Not the Browns. The Browns almost seemed to do the opposite and ease up in the second half.
So there you have it, another AFC North game… Another AFC North loss. It’s like a broken record at this point. The Browns will never begin to make progress unless they can figure out a way to win games within their division. Going 0-6 year after year isn’t going to get it done. Of course, that’s easier said then done considering how deep Pittsburgh and Baltimore are and how well set up Cincinnati is moving forward. It’s going to be tough, but the Browns need to start figuring this thing out now.