Red Right 88

Life as a Cleveland Sports Fan

Archive for the month “October, 2011”

Browns punchless (again) in San Francisco

In honor of the Browns inexplicable, inexcusable inability to score points in the first quarter this season – three total in seven games – we’re taking the first quarter off and not showing up with a game review until tomorrow.

(Photo by The Plain Dealer)

Browns vs. 49ers – Week 8

The Cleveland Browns continue their tour of the NFC West Division as they travel to San Francisco on Sunday to take on the flavor-of-the-month 49ers.

The Opposition

San Francisco record: 5-1 (1st in the NFC West)
Offensive rank: 27th overall/31st passing/6th rushing
Defensive rank: 11th overall/22nd passing/2ndh rushing
All-time record: Browns lead 18-8 (including AAFC games), with an 8-5 mark away from home
Last meeting: Browns won 20-7 in 2007
The line: Browns (+9.5)

What to Watch For

This is going to be a game of contrasts.

The 49ers can run the ball (6th) in the NFL; the Browns can’t stop the run (20th).

The 49ers can’t pass the ball (31st in the NFL); the Browns have the top pass defense in the league.

The Browns can’t run the ball (29th in the NFL); the 49ers are tough to run on (2nd in the NFL).

The Browns can’t really pass the ball either (22nd in the NFL); but the 49ers can’t stop the pass (22nd).

The Browns possibly (likely?) will be without Peyton Hillis again this week, as his hamstring continues to bark. Injuries continue to plague Hillis, who has seen his numbers drop across the board through the first six games this year as compared to last year (28 fewer carries, 180 less yards, almost a full yard difference in yards per carry).

The team clearly misses him as they are only averaging 91.2 yards per game on the ground. If Hillis can’t go, we’re not sure how much success Montario Hardesty and Chris Ogbonnaya can have, although Ogbonnaya looked good catching the ball last week.

Meanwhile, San Francisco is averaging 193.3 yards per game in October, and running back Frank Gore has rushed for more than 125 yards in each of his last three games.

If the Browns can slow down the San Francisco rushing attack, and at least move the ball well enough on offense to keep the clock moving (like last week against Seattle) they may be able to find a way to keep themselves in the game.

And let’s not even get started on the special teams.

The one Browns vs. 49ers Game That Will Be Hard to Top

The 1949 AAFC Championship Game the Browns won 21-7. It was the Browns fourth consecutive league title and the last game in AAFC history.

The Prediction

This is one of those games we could see the Browns winning under certain circumstances.

The 49ers are not as good as their record indicates and are one of the current media darlings in the NFL. Things are going to start evening out for them.

The Browns may have history on their side as well, as San Francisco is looking for its first five-game winning streak since late in 2001.

Cleveland also won on its last visit to San Francisco, the Kelly Holcomb “teeny-tiny fracture” game in 2003.

But with the offense currently struggling, and with Hillis possibly missing the game, Ben Watson maybe limited because of a head injury and Mohamed Massaquoi definitely out, it’s not going to be an easy day.

We have to go with the 49ers and the points this week.

Record picking the Browns (using the point spread) this year: 3-2-1.

Thanks for the memories, Jose

It was 14 years ago last night that Jose Mesa soiled himself on the mound at Pro Player Stadium, killing the best chance the Indians have had to win a World Series in our lifetime.

We all remember what happened that night in Miami: Jaret Wright, Paul Assenmacher, Mike Jackson and Brian Anderson combined to through 8 innings of two-hit, one-run baseball and turn over a 2-1 Indians lead in the ninth inning to Mesa.

Mesa, of course, let in the tying run in a game the Indians would go on to lose in extra innings – the last time the Tribe was close to winning a title.

We still remember that weekend like it was yesterday.

We were working at a newspaper in New Jersey and when we left the office on the day of Game 6, the publisher asked us what we thought was going to happen. There was no doubt in our mind that the Tribe would win Game 6 – losing to the Marlins in six games would have been disappointing but not soul-crushing.

Plus, the Tribe had been there, done that in 1995.

No, we said, the only way this will play out is the Indians will either take the last two games or lose a Game 7 in some kind of horrible fashion.

Little did we know at the time how right we were.

***

The latest out of Browns town is that Oakland’s Aaron Curry claims that one of the Browns offensive lineman tips off the play “about 70 percent of the time” before the snap.

“One of the O-linemen from Cleveland, they gave it up every play, most of the time, I’d say about 70 percent of the time, whether it was run or pass.,” Curry told The San Francisco Chronicle. “They had no clue they were doing it, but I figured it out from just watching the film.”

Lovely.

Right tackle Joe Thomas doesn’t think it’s an issue, though.

“He must be a wizard because after being there one day, he figured it out?” Thomas told The Plain Dealer. “He must be really smart. . . . I’m sure if a guy was leaning really far back or really far forward, maybe [he could see it]. But for one day? That is very impressive.”

It’s interesting to note that this comes out the same week that Pro Football Focus had a less than stellar review of right tackle Tony Pashos (h/t Waiting for Next Year):

From one end of the line where there was near perfection to the other where there was a disaster waiting to happen, Tony Pashos’ performance in the run game (-4.7) can be summed up in one word: dismal. It didn’t matter who was lined up in front of Pashos, everyone had the pleasure of beating him off the ball and making him look silly. When the Browns ran behind him they averaged 2.4 yards per carry, almost a full yard below the team average. Even though everyone took their shots on Pashos, no one enjoyed the day more than Alan Branch. The former Cardinal forced Pashos into committing a penalty, as well as beaten him badly on two other plays.

Hmmm, a lineman may be tipping off the play and Pashos was abused by the Seahawks last weekend?

We’re sure it’s just a coincidence.

***

And Peyton Hillis missed practice today with his sore hamstring.

But there’s no such thing as a Madden curse.

Browns right where they should be

The anti-Holmgren crowd has been very vocal through six games of the Cleveland Browns season so far.

Struggling to accept that the Browns are in a better place with the power trio of team president Mike Holmgren, general manager Tom Heckert and head coach Pat Shurmur – after all, the Browns are currently just one game back in the loss column of first place in the AFC North – some have resorted to discrediting the team by saying they only beat “bad teams.”

Well, what did people expect?

The Browns are still very much a work in progress. They are going to struggle – and lose – to good teams; hopefully they can hold their own and find a way to win against other mediocre and bad teams (think Miami and Seattle).

But are they really any different than the other teams in the division?

The Browns three wins have come against teams (Miami, Indianapolis and Seattle) that are a combined 2-17, a “winning” percentage of .105 – which is about as bad as you can get.

Look at the first-place Steelers, though. Pittsburgh’s five wins have come against Seattle, Indy, Tennessee, Jacksonville and Arizona – teams that are a combined 8-24, a .250 winning percentage.

Is that really that much different than the Browns?

What about the Bengals? They’ve beaten four teams (Cleveland, Buffalo, Jacksonville and Indy) that are a combined 9-17 (.346). Not exactly an achievement that justifies all the attention they are receiving.

The Browns, Steelers and Bengals have all struggled against good teams, with their losses coming against teams that win at a .579 clip (Browns), .583 (Bengals) and .615 (Steelers).

The Ravens are the exception in the division as the teams they have beaten have a better winning percentage (.481) than the teams they have lost to (.385).

The Browns can’t control who they play, but they can control how they play. To show fans they are ready to take that next step, they need to start being competitive against better teams and pull off a win or two.

This week in San Francisco would be as good a time as any to get started.

***

Good news on at least one injury for the Browns, as Peyton Hillis was expected back at practice today and will get the start on Sunday if his hamstring holds out.

“I’m very confident and we’re looking forward to (Hillis) performing on Sunday and having a good game,” Shurmur said during his Wednesday press conference. “I’ve told this to players in the past that your next great performance is right on the horizon and we’re hoping for him it’s Sunday. He’s our starting halfback and if he’s able to go, he’ll be the starter.”

The Browns are going to need all hands on deck as San Francisco is second in the NFL against the rush, giving up just 74.7 yards per game.

“I think (San Francisco’s success) is a combination of number one the scheme as well as the talent of the players that play it,” <span class="blShurmur said. “They’re very good, they’re very good up front. They have a 3-4 scheme and they play it well. Against a 3-4 defense there’s not as many of combinations of runs that you can run at it. There’s five guys standing on the line and they’re very talented.

“I’ve seen them four times in the last two years at the last place I was and they’re very good and it’s a credit to them.”

And the team may very well be without starters Mohamed Massaquoi and Ben Watson, who both left Sunday’s win over Seattle with head injuries.

“I think the challenge is that the guys that replace them have to come in and play at a high level and that’s why you practice,” Shurmur said. “Whether you’re getting the reps or not, you’ve got to find a way to make sure you’re either getting mental reps or we throw balls after practice. In the run game, they’ve got to make sure they’re getting their fits.

“It’s important that the guys that step in do a good job. The challenge is of course that you’ve got to still be able to execute the scheme and then you maybe do a couple things a little bit differently. Other than that you try to still play the game the same way.”

What fun would it be if there wasn’t something for the team to overcome?

The Colt McCoy question

“We’re constantly looking for the things that are part of what we do that he does well.” – Browns coach Pat Shurmur

Cleveland Browns coach Pat Shurmur addressed the topic on everyone’s mind in the wake of the team’s 6-3 win over Seattle on Sunday: just what do the Browns have in quarterback Colt McCoy?

“This is a little uncharted, playing without an offseason,” Shurmur said in his Monday press conference. “I think it’s important that (McCoy) just improves each week. At the end of the year we’ll just add it up and see where it’s at. It’s a little bit hard to define right now. If we would have had a full offseason with all the OTA’s you would have had a better idea where he was during training camp, then you can judge the improvement during training camp and then so on. This is a little bit uncharted as far as marking the progress I think.”

Shurmur’s comments are spot on and show that the Browns are handling the McCoy situation exactly the way they should – by letting him play.

The only way we’re going to know if McCoy has what it takes to lead the Browns into the playoffs on a regular basis is to let him play this season. Too often in this town we’ve seen coaches mishandle the quarterback position, not being able to settle on one player, benching quarterbacks after two games only to make them starters again later in the same season.

And it has to end for the team to have any hope.

This isn’t an endorsement of McCoy as the long-term answer. The stats through six games are certainly not pretty – 27th in completion percentage, 33rd in yards per attempt, 32nd in passes of more than 20 yards, 28th in quarterback rating.

This being Cleveland, half the fans always want the back-up quarterback to play. Of the other half, the majority just want someone else. But that doesn’t work and it’s not how you run a team.

The Browns need to stay the course with McCoy. They need to be certain whether or not he’s their quarterback. And the only way that is going to happen is by letting him play.

There is probably nothing more important this year than for the front office and coaching staff to be able to make a definitive decision on the quarterback position for the future.

If McCoy can stay healthy through 16 games – and that’s no certainty with the play of the guards and the right tackle – there is no doubt that we will all know the answer the morning after the Jan. 1 game against Pittsburgh.

“I know my job is to go out there and play and give our team the best opportunity to win,” McCoy said after Sunday’s win. “If you start to think about what people are writing or what somebody says, that just creates things in your mind that don’t need to be in there. I’m going to give it my all every week, in practice, in meetings and in the games. If you do that, then good things are going to happen. I think we need to focus on our team and give ourselves the best chance to win.”

You can’t really ask for anything more than that.

***

One hundred and forty-six total yards of offense.

No first downs until the 5:26 mark in the third quarter.

Sixteen total yards of offense in the first half.

One passing yard in the first half.

Six total points.

The Browns’ box score from Sunday’s game against Seattle? Think again.

Those are the offensive numbers the Baltimore Ravens put up Monday night against Jacksonville.

You know, the first-place Ravens, allegedly Super Bowl contenders? That’s all they could do against a 1-5 Jaguar team that is playing for a lame duck coach before an apathetic fan base.

But to hear the anti-Holmgren crowd tell it, the Browns are the worst team in the history of forever after their win against the Seahawks.

Think Ravens’ fans would have been crying this morning if Baltimore would have figured out a way to win while only scoring six points?

Yeah, we didn’t think so.

***

We could have sworn it was guard Jason Pinkston who got blown up on Sunday by Red Bryant on Bryant’s two blocked field goals.

But the Beacon Journal‘s Nate Ulrich wrote that: In the second quarter, Oniel Cousins lined up at left guard and fell on one knee while trying to get out of his stance, allowing Bryant to break through the line and earn his first block. In the fourth quarter, Alex Mack played left guard and kept his head down as Bryant maneuvered past him for another block.

Alex Mack, huh? Guess the Browns should have drafted Mark Sanchez after all.

(Photo by Cleveland Browns.com)

The Browns give good headache

The Browns being the Browns, and Cleveland being Cleveland, it’s never easy around here.

It’s not enough to take a look at the standings and see the Browns at 3-3, just one game back in the loss column, in the toughest division in the NFL during a season where most expected them to win five or six games.

“I do think it’s important that we won the game and each game, you win or lose it in a different fashion,” coach Pat Shurmur said on Monday. “The fact that our guys found a way to win it, I’m proud of their effort.

“I thought the defense played an outstanding game,” Shurmur said. “When I watch the tape, you just see guys battling all over the place. Up front, I asked the guys to fight to control the line of scrimmage, which they did and it really eliminated any big plays. In the secondary, they challenged the receivers from the first snap to the last. I’m very proud of their efforts and I’m proud of the scheme that we put together.”

It’s always something with the Browns, who hit the highs and lows on Sunday:

  • The Browns’ six points on Sunday were the lowest total for a winning team in the NFL this season. That’s a lot better than having the highest total for a losing team.
  • The Browns totaled 20 first downs and had five drives of 10 plays or more against Seattle, but somehow only managed to score six points.
  • The Browns have now played four 6-3 games in franchise history and won them all. They may be on to something here, we’re just not sure what.
  • We may have figured out why Colt McCoy is struggling this year – God cares too much about Tim Tebow to worry about anyone else.
  • The Browns had 24 third-down attempts Sunday, which are the most in a single NFL game in the past 20 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
  • Montario Hardesty ran for 95 yards, but 20 of his carries were for two yards or fewer.
  • The Browns did not have a drive that made it to Seattle’s 20-yard-line until 4:10 of the fourth quarter, according to Cold Hard Football Facts.com.
  • The defense is currently ranked No. 4 in the NFL, allowing 4.7 yards per play, down from 5.4 yards per play last year.
  • And we don’t care who the opposition has been, the Browns are playing good defense. They’ve given up just 13 points in the past two games. People want to have it both ways – if the Browns were getting shredded on defense, the hoople heads would rip them, but they don’t want to give them credit when they do play well.
  • The defense allowed just 137 yards in total offense against Seattle, the fewest they’ve allowed since a 1993 game against New Orleans.

It’s times like this that we feel like Thornton Melon, Rodney Dangerfield’s character in Back to School.

There is one scene in the movie where Thornton is talking to his driver, bodyguard Lou (played by the always solid Burt Young). The two are complaining about Thornton’s current wife and, after a while, Thornton says, “Lay off Vanessa, she gives good headache.”

And if there is one thing we can count on that the Browns do well, year in and year out, is that they give good headache.

(Photo by Cleveland Browns.com)

Browns do just enough to win

The goal in the NFL is to score more points than the opposition.

Using that standard, consider it mission accomplished for the Cleveland Browns on Sunday against Seattle.

The Browns rode their defense to a 6-3 win over the Seahawks, evening their record on the season at 3-3.

“You can’t start out talking about this game unless you talk about the performance of the defense,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “When you hold a team in the NFL to three points, that’s outstanding.”

“We’ll take this one,” Browns kicker Phil Dawson, who made field goals of 52 and 53 yards, said. “We’re probably not going to brag about it in 15 years, but we’ll take the win.”

The defense brought it on Sunday, limiting Seattle to 137 yards of offense, nine first downs, and letting the Seahawks convert only 2-of-12 on third down. The defense also recorded three sacks of Charlie Whitehurst, who threw for all of 97 yards and averaged 3.2 yards per attempt.

“If the offense scores 100 points, we want it to be 100 to zero,” safety T.J. Ward said in published reports. “Every time we go out there we’re looking for a shutout. Defensively, we want people to fear us and know it’s going to be tough against Cleveland. You’re not going to get no easy points. We’re one of a kind.”

On offense, certainly didn’t light up the scoreboard, but the offense did just enough, especially when it counted the most.

After the Seahawks’ fourth three-and-out forced them to punt, the Browns took over leading 6-3 with 9:54 left in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Colt McCoy led a 14-play, 65-yard drive that took 6:49 off the clock.

The drive ended, unfortunately, with a blocked Phil Dawson field goal – the second of the day as guard Jason Pinkston had no answer for how to block Seattle’s Red Bryant – but the offense finally managed to take over the game when it needed to.

The drive featured Montario Hardesty, who gained 30 of his game-high 95 yards. Coming into the game, the Seahawks had not allowed a single runner to gain more than 70 yards this season.

Running back Chris Ogbonnaya, signed earlier in the week, contributed a team-high five catches for 43 yards as he showed some nice hands coming out of the backfield – no drops!

The Browns totaled 298 yards of offense, converted 12-0f-24 third downs and held the ball for a ridiculous 42:56. They only thing they couldn’t do was put the ball in the end zone.

The offense was hampered, however, by not having starting running back Peyton Hillis, who was inactive because of his balky hamstring. The Browns also lost starting wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi and starting tight end Ben Watson to head injuries, as well as starting right guard Shawn Lauvao with a leg injury.

With a team that is already struggling on offense, having four starters out doesn’t make it any easier.

In the end, they found a way to win, which is something new this year. How many times over the past few years have we seen the Browns do the opposite and find a way to lose? (Think Jacksonville and Buffalo last year, Detroit in 2009, just to name a few).

And six games into his tenure as head coach, Shurmur will wake up Monday morning with a .500 record, something that former coaches Eric Mangini and Romeo Crennel were never able to say.

As pretty as the defense was on the day, that’s how ugly the offense was. But the Browns got it done and, after not winning for almost a month, coming out of the game with a victory is a nice reward for a team that definitely needed it.

(Photo by The Associated Press)

Browns vs. Seahawks – Week 7

The Cleveland Browns return home on Sunday looking for their first win in almost a month as they take on the Seattle Seahawks.

The Opposition

Seattle record: 2-3 (2nd in the NFC West)
Offensive rank: 30th overall/26th passing/29th rushing
Defensive rank: 18th overall/23rd passing/8th rushing
All-time record: Browns trail 5-11, with a 2-4 mark away from home
Last meeting: Browns won 33-30 (in OT) in 2007
The line: Browns (-3)

What to Watch For

  • Can the Browns actually score some points in the first quarter? So far this season they scored three points total in the first quarter, the lowest amount possible for an offense to score.
  • Seattle, which beat the Giants on the road in their last game, have won two consecutive road games since late in 2007.
  • In addition to their regular offensive struggles, the Browns are going to be tested by the Seahawks’ rush defense, ranked 8th in the league. Seattle leads the NFL in rushing average, giving up just 3.1 yards per carry, and haven’t given up more than 70 yards to a running back all season.
  • Compounding the problem, Peyton Hillis is questionable with a hamstring injury.
  • The Browns may be catching a break as the Seahawks will start backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. Normal starter Tavaris Jackson is one of the worst quarterbacks in the league, so what does that say about his backup?
  • Of course, the last time Whitehurst started a game for an injured quarterback, he threw for 192 yards and a touchdown to help Seattle beat St. Louis and win the division.
  • Not helping matters is that linebacker Scott Fujita is out and cornerback Joe Haden is questionable after not playing last week.

The Most Memorable Browns vs. Seahawks Game We’ve Seen

That’s a tough one. When we think of the Browns playing the Seahawks we mostly think of Todd Philcox in 1993. We completely forgot about the game in 1994 where the Browns earned a playoff berth.

So we’ll go with the 2007 game where the Browns won in overtime.

The Prediction

Who knows with this Browns team anymore?

The standings say the Seahawks are not very good and they historically struggle when they have to travel East for 1 p.m. games.

Of course, they have played a far more difficult schedule than the Browns this year, having faced Pittsburgh, Atlanta, the Giants and San Francisco so far (combined record 16-8).

But if a team ever needed a win, it is the Browns after the week they’ve had.

Let’s take the Browns to win, but not cover, on a late Phil Dawson field goal.

Record picking the Browns (using the point spread) this year: 3-2-0.

(Photo by Life Magazine)

Serenity now, Browns fans

Repeat after us, Browns fans: it’s only five games.

Five games into the season. Five games that Pat Shurmur has been a head coach in the NFL. Five games into a season with a new offensive and defensive system that has been installed without the benefit of a full off-season program (think the Browns could have used the approximately 1,000 snaps of practice lost to the lockout?)

Five games.

The hair-pulling has begun in earnest among Browns fans. Some have already hit the panic button, ready to bench the quarterback or fire the coach. Some revisionists are pining for the return of former coach Eric Mangini and his 10-22 record.

That’s the kind of thinking that, in the past, has put the Browns in the situation they find themselves in. That’s how you end up with:

  • Tim Couch becoming the starter at halftime of the first game of the season.
  • Or how you hand out big contracts to players who don’t fit the system (Corey Williams) who have had only half a good season (Derek Anderson).
  • And how you hire a coach before a general manager.
  • It’s also how you end up with two ex-coaches and two ex-general managers still on the payroll.

The Browns have finally put the correct structure in place. Mike Holmgren, Tom Heckert and Shurmur are all pulling in the same direction, share the same idea on the offensive and defensive systems the team will play, and know the type of players that are required for those systems.

And they should blow it up after just five games? Why? Because the Browns are “just” 2-3?

We are fully convinced that the process the Browns are using is absolutely the right way to go. Everyone has a clearly defined role to play, everyone is working toward the same goal, the team is building around young players and draft picks; it’s all the right way.

Will the end result be one that Browns fans can cheer? That chapter still has to be written, maybe not for another two or three years.

Of the three, Heckert is really the only one who we know can perform his job in a capable fashion. The jury is still out on Holmgren and Shurmur. Mistakes can still be made, things can fall apart and, as we’ve seen repeatedly over the years in this town, just because you’re a decent coordinator doesn’t mean you have what it takes to be a good head coach.

What we don’t want is a repeat of 2007, where the combination of a few lucky bounces and a soft schedule created the mirage that was a 10-6 season. We don’t want the Browns to be the flavor of the month in the NFL – think San Francisco and Detroit this year – but rather a team that consistently competes for the division title.

More importantly, Holmgren is not firing Shurmur – especially after only one year on the job. It was easy to fire Mangini, Holmgren didn’t hire him. But Holmgren’s sucess as team president is tied to Shurmur’s success as head coach. If Shurmur fails, that means Holmgren failed in hiring him, so short of Shurmur doing something off the field to embarrass the organization, he’s not going anywhere for a few years.

The Browns need time to work this all out. This isn’t a game of Madden football – we can’t just continually hit reset if we don’t like how things are playing out.

When it comes to the current state of the Browns, we’re reminded of this phrase from the Cadet Prayer at West Point: “Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.”

The Browns are currently taking the harder right. All we can do is go along for the ride and hope for the best.

To hear what Holmgren had to say today: Part 1 & Part 2

Just another day in Browns paradise

The NFL trading deadline came and went at 4 p.m. today and, despite speculation that the Browns could, possibly, maybe, sort of, you know, consider, kind of, trading starting running back Peyton Hillis, the team thankfully didn’t make any moves.

The Browns were probably too busy picking up the pieces from Sunday’s loss in Oakland to do anything ridiculous. And the coaching staff certainly has plenty of work to do, starting with quarterback Colt McCoy, who seems to be struggling to get the offense in gear, especially when he’s under pressure.

Or does he?

“There were a couple times when we had pressures that should have been picked up that weren’t and there were reasons for it,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said in his Monday press conference. “It may have appeared that Colt didn’t see it coming, he saw it coming and thought it was picked up. I wouldn’t say there’s anything consistent. We’ve just got to get better.”

The offensive problems are all inter-connected – McCoy holds onto the ball too long because the wide receivers can’t get open which puts pressure on the offensive line resulting in McCoy dumping the ball off for a four-yard gain or getting drilled by the defense.

And lets not forget the offensive line’s role in this tragic comedy.

Coming into the season the Browns three best offensive linemen were Joe Thomas, Alex Mack and Eric Steinbach. Thomas and Mack were first-round draft picks and Steinbach was taken at the top of the second round. That’s how you build an offensive line in the NFL – with very high draft picks.

When Steinbach was lost for the season, rookie Jason Pinkston stepped in. Not only is Pinkston learning a new position, people seem to forget he was a fifth-round draft pick. Right guard Shawn Lauvao was picked at the bottom of the third round and Tony Pashos was a fifth-round pick.

It’s nice to see players the Browns drafted (Pinkston and Lauvao) on the field, but the reality is they are the types of players that generally are not starters at the NFL level. We heard a stat earlier in the season about how something like only 40 percent of players taken in the fourth round or later in the NFL draft ever become contributing players. The Browns are asking a lot out of their offensive linemen not named Thomas or Mack.

Sunday’s game was a perfect example. There was one blitz where a Raider safety came straight up the middle to nail McCoy. But watching the play again showed that at the snap Pinkston turned to his left to help Thomas double team a Raider (why Thomas would need help is an unknown), Mack picked up the player to his left and, with Lauvao, Pashos and running back Montario Hardesty picking up their players, there was a gap for the defensive back to waltz right through.

If Pinkston had just taken his man, Mack would have been free and waiting to pick up the extra blitzer. But that’s the way things have been going for the Browns so far this year.

So who gets the blame on that one? Pinkston? Mack, who called out the blocking assignments? McCoy for not getting rid of the ball quicker? Or maybe it was a team breakdown.

We didn’t have high expectations coming into the season, not with all the changes the Browns made and the shortened NFL off-season. But we also didn’t think we’d be this exhausted just five games into the season.

A win on Sunday against Seattle would be nice, but it won’t solve all the problems the Browns currently have.

***

The Browns did make a move on Tuesday, signing running back Chris Ogbonnaya off the Houston Texans’ practice squad and waiving undrafted rookie running back Armond Smith.

Ogbonnaya played in two games this season for the Texans, carrying the ball three times for six yards.

With the way the season is going, would anyone be surprised if he got 20 carries on Sunday against the Seahawks?

Post Navigation

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.