Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Third-down backs, challenges, reverses and other Browns stuff

A few lingering thoughts as the Cleveland Browns get ready for Sunday’s game with Baltimore.

Just what did running back Brandon Jackson do to land in coach Pat Shurmur’s dog house?

Since the Week 1 game against Philadelphia, where Jackson caught two passes for 20 yards, no one has seen or heard from him. Not to make Jackson out to be a superstar or anything, but he did rush for 703 yards and three touchdowns for Green Bay in 2010, and caught an average of 30 passes a year as a third-down back for the Packers from 2008 to 2010.

We thought about Jackson after noticing that Chris Ogbonnaya dropped two of the three passes thrown his way against San Diego. Not to bag on Ogbonnaya, but he’s only carried the ball five times all season, while adding a respectable 20 catches as a third-down back.

Throw in Montario Hardesty (25 rushes for 87 yards, one reception for nine yards) and it just seems odd that Jackson can’t find time in the Browns’ backfield.


Pat Shurmur’s challenge of Robert Meachem’s six-yard catch on Sunday earned a mention in Bill Barnwell’s Grantland column on Monday – but it’s probably not something that Shumur wants to clip out and hang on the refrigerator at home.

According to Barnwell, the challenge, while successful, did not improve the Browns chances of winning by even 1 percent. Even though the play was overturned, by using a challenge so early in the game for such a small return, Shurmur ran the risk of not being able to challenge an important play later in the game if he were to lose a second challenge. In Barnwell’s words, “it’s like being granted two wishes and using one of them to have a genie take out the trash for you.”

We get what Barnwell is saying, but it assumes that there would be a second opportunity to challenge a play, that Shurmur would lose that challenge, and then not be able to do anything if a third challenge opportunity came up late in the game. That’s stretching things out a bit far.

Plus, it’s not as if there wasn’t anything else to question from Sunday’s game, such as the reverse to Travis Benjamin that resulted in a 20-yard loss when Benjamin fumbled the pitch from Josh Cribbs.

The call seemed a little odd at the time because it seems like the Browns run that play every time Benjamin is in the game (we know they don’t, but it sure seems that way). It got stranger after the game when Shurmur talked about how the Browns were playing it a little more conservatively because of the weather.

But what really kind of bugged us about the play is Shurmur’s defense of the call on Monday, where he essentially put all the blame on Benjamin.

“… the ball handling on that, it’s a handoff and then just a little flip,” Shurmur said. “It was there though. What happened was we had a little penetration. They defended it pretty well. The next time we do it, we’ll do if from a little bit different formation. We’ve run that play twice already this year. We ran it from a little different formation to disguise it. They got penetration on us, but had we executed the ball handling, it could have been a big play.”

Way to have your player’s back there, coach. More and more Shurmur seems to be taking the attitude that, “hey, I called a good play, it was those guys that messed it up.” It could be that he is getting irritated with the media, but that line of thinking is starting to get old.


Finally, running back Trent Richardson is a Rookie of the Week nominee  and an Air and Ground Player of the Week nominee after rushing for 122 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers.

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