Red Right 88

Life as a Cleveland Sports Fan

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?

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2 thoughts on “Just another day in Browns paradise

  1. I have to disagree with you about our guards, specifically that teams don't count on 5th and 3rd rd picks to start. Guard is the one position that traditionally gets overlooked in the first few rounds.
    I looked up a few teams and their starting guards.
    Here are the seven teams I looked up-

    Steelers 6th rd and UDFA.
    Ravens 1st and 3rd round.
    Bengals 2nd and UDFA.
    Raiders 2nd and 4th round.
    Packers 4th and 4th round.
    Patriots 1st and UDFA.
    Colts 4th and UDFA.

  2. Rick:

    Not sure the Steelers are a good case study – isn't their line one of the weakest in the league? (Can't miss a chance to poke the Steelers).

    For the other six teams, of the 12 players almost half were taken in the top two rounds, somewhat supporting the need to draft high on the offensive line.

    I'm not blaming the guards, just that it might be asking a lot from them, especially Pinkston. Having said that, he seems to be holding up well and playing between Thomas and Mack is probably accelerating his learning curve considerably.

    If he and Lauvao can turn into long-time, solid starters on the line then that's another win in Heckert's draft column. Pick up a right tackle next year with one of the two first round draft picks and the Browns might be on to something.

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