The Browns’ Offensive Problems

It is no secret that the Cleveland Browns are putting in yet a new offensive system this season, as coach Pat Shurmur wants to run his version of the west coast offense.

To date, it doesn’t seem to be working, and the latest evidence was getting just two field goals in the 6-3 win over Seattle. 

Critics would say that it doesn’t appear the Browns are running any offensive system at all.

However, whose fault is it for the struggles?

The easy answer is to blame QB Colt McCoy or Shurmur’s play calling.  However, it’s not that simple.

It is most definitely a combination of those two factors, plus some problems on the offensive line, the familiarity of the receivers in the offensive system, and the injury to Peyton Hillis.

The attack has to stretch the field, both vertically and horizontally.  The failure to do this results in the defense packing in its coverage, and it makes it more difficult to complete the short passes McCoy seems content to take.

In the past few games, the Browns have thrown deep once per game, but they need to do it a few more times per contest.  Even if the throw isn’t complete, it makes the defense aware and they can’t creep up to the line of scrimmage.

The problem with doing this is the play of the offensive line, particularly the right side, G Shawn Lauvao and T Tony Pashos.  They simply aren’t providing the protection needed to throw the ball downfield.

Yes, sometimes McCoy holds the ball too long, but how many times have you seen the quarterback take a three-step drop and the defense is in his face. 

They’ve also had problems picking up blitzes as well.  The offensive line woes have forced Shurmur to keep extra people in to block, which limits the passing attack.

It’s why Alex Smith is getting more time at TE than Evan Moore, who’s a better receiver.

The receivers are a problem as well.  Greg Little looks like he has the talent to be very good wide out someday, but the rest of the pass catching corps is pedestrian at best. 

How many times have we seen two receivers in the same area?  It happened at least twice last Sunday.  You have to assume that one of the players is in the wrong spot.  Is that the quarterbacks’ fault?

We can blame having no off-season program and a shortened training camp, but every other NFL team is in the same boat. 

Still, we should see improvement as the season goes on because all of the players should be more used to the offense. 

Receivers should learn where they need to go on hot reads.  The offensive linemen will know where potential blitzes are coming from.  The quarterback will know where the receivers should be so he can get rid of the ball quickly.

If you look back in history, many offensive head coaches have started slowly in their first year, and improved as their system took shape.

Bill Walsh, considered the father of the modern west coast offense, went 2-14 in his first year.  Even Mike Holmgren said last week that the Packers started 2-5 in his first year.

The problem in Cleveland is we, as fans, are starved for a winner, and patience is thin.

This is a young team, with a defense that is starting to show some teeth. 

Be patient.  Not for five more years, but at least until the end of the season.  If Colt McCoy isn’t showing he can handle the offense by then, maybe he isn’t the future for the Browns.

JD

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