A recurring theme for the Cleveland Browns for the past ten seasons is the inability to run the football, and not being able to stop the ground game of the opponents.
Today, that was evidenced to the extreme in a 30-12 embarrassing loss to the Houston Texans.
The Texans rushed for a club record 261 yards, while the Browns mustered just 44. So dominant was the Houston ground game, that QB Matt Schaub threw 119 yards on the day. He didn’t need to do anything else.
It doesn’t matter what year any team is in a rebuilding process, there should be no excuse for the kind of physical defeat the Browns suffered today. It appeared that most of the team quit, and that includes the coaching staff.
After RB Chris Ogbannaya fumbled on Cleveland’s first offensive play of the game, the guys wearing white jerseys could have just went back to their locker rooms, and it is doubtful anyone would have noticed.
The first anger felt here was when the Browns had the ball with a 4th and 2 on the Texans’ 33 yard line in the 2nd quarter, trailing 14-0, and Pat Shurmur had Phil Dawson kick yet another 50 yard field goal.
With the Browns being a huge underdog on the road, and down by two touchdowns, why not go for it and try to get back within seven points?
Dawson made the kick, but it was the first sign that the Browns weren’t going to try to win today. And for team president Mike Holmgren, it should have had him thinking about the previous coach, who spent many a Sunday afternoon trying not to lose.
The offensive play calling was ridiculous as well. Sometime in the middle of the third quarter, the network showed a graphic saying the Browns had run 11 out of a possible 13 times on first down. Keep in mind, Cleveland was missing its top two running backs in Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty.
Why not loosen up the defense by throwing on first down a few times.
Put in poor down and distance situations by the staff, QB Colt McCoy took a beating, getting sacked four times and getting hit numerous others.
Still, the poor offensive game plan had nothing to do with a defense that gave up 6.5 yards per rushing attempt. Even when the Texans were in poor down and distance situations, they simply handed the ball to Arian Foster and Ben Tate and have them run for the eight or nine yards they needed.
Houston was 9 for 14 in converting third downs, so the orange helmets couldn’t get off the field.
Even more disturbing than the lack of offense and defense, was the attitude shown by the team. They appeared to be moping when things went wrong rather that fighting.
For sure, not all Browns can be faulted here. LB D’Qwell Jackson played hard, and followed up a pass up field defended by Mike Adams and got a hustle interception. Joe Haden is always around the ball, and Ahtyba Rubin is too. Josh Cribbs is one of the best players on the team and still manages to get tackles on special teams.
However, for the most part, the Browns looked like a defeated football team early in the first half, and that’s on the coaching staff. They have to try some different things because what they are doing right now isn’t working.
They haven’t scored a first half touchdown since the Oakland game. The team is too reliant on Phil Dawson kicking 50 yard field goals to score points.
There is no progress being made. The staff can point to putting in a new system all they want, but the offense looked better in the first two contests.
So what, if you don’t have your two best running backs. You do the best you can with what you have.
This football team cannot have another game like this the rest of the season. This must be the low point for Shurmur and his coaches. No more excuses.