Sitting down to write down thoughts on today’s 24-10 Browns’ loss at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens, I wanted to talk about the positives.
Rookie DE Jabaal Sheard had six tackles, including a sack which caused a fumble by Ravens’ QB Joe Flacco that was recovered by Cleveland.
And there were no bad snaps from new long snapper Christian Yount.
That’s about it.
The Browns were completely dominated by the Baltimore ground game, which outgained the Cleveland offense by itself, 290 to 233. The biggest question for Ravens’ coach John Harbaugh was why his team even tried to pass. Putting the ball in the air was doing the Browns a favor.
Back in the 1960’s Plain Dealer sports editor Hal Lebovitz used to talk about “zero defects” when Cleveland went into a playoff game. Eliminate errors and you have a chance to win.
These Browns shoot themselves in the foot more times than Yosemite Sam. It’s constant and after 12 games, it doesn’t appear to be getting any better.
On the team’s first offensive play, QB Colt McCoy threw a pass for WR Greg Little, who promptly dropped it.
Later in the first quarter, one of the few receivers who have been catching the ball, Jordan Norwood, caught a pass for a first down, and then flipped the ball (probably unintentionally) at Ravens’ DB Bernard Pollard, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, costing the team 15 yards.
The defense was giving up yardage in large chunks to RB Ray Rice, who gained 204 yards in 29 carries, including a 30-yard jolt on the first play from scrimmage for the Ravens.
Dick Jauron’s unit has generally played well this season, keeping the Browns in games, but you have to wonder why halftime is needed to make an adjustment to stop the run. Opponents are running the ball at ease right out the gate.
It was if the Ravens said to themselves, Cleveland can’t stop the run and can’t handle good tight ends, so that’s what we will do. And they did that over and over again.
Offensively, Pat Shurmur came out mixing the run and the pass, and on their first drive, Peyton Hillis ran the ball effectively. In the first half, Hillis had 10 carries. He had two more the rest of the game.
That would be understandable if the Ravens were winning at the half 24-0, but it was only 10-0. At halftime, it was noted that the Browns had to continue to run the football. They had just four planned runs the balance of the game.
That’s horrific play calling by Shurmur, who can’t seem to stop himself from throwing the football. The one-dimensional attack doesn’t work for the Browns, and it doesn’t work for McCoy, who averaged less than five yards per attempt once again.
The Browns best chance to win was to pound the ball and control the clock, and their coach chose to stop running for no good reason.
Once again, whether or not McCoy in the Browns’ QB of the future is up for debate, but there is no question the dropped passes are killing the attack. Usually reliable Benjamin Watson dropped a couple, and Evan Moore, who later caught a TD pass, dropped one that could have put the Browns within three at 10-7 following the fumble caused by Sheard.
In fact, the Browns bad hands aren’t limited to receivers. In the first half, CB Sheldon Brown dropped an interception, a possible pick six after a Flacco pass was deflected may a lineman.
And of course, no Cleveland game would be complete without a special teams gaffe. This week, it was a 68-yard punt return by Lardarius Webb, making it 24-3 Baltimore.
Problems with this unit continue to pop up every week, and it makes fans just shake their collective heads.
There simply isn’t any part of this team that it doing well right now. And after three-quarters of the season, people have every right to expect improvement from this football team.
No one was expecting a playoff appearance, and the most realistic fans didn’t think a .500 season was possible.
However, seeing the same things, the same mistakes that is, out of the Browns week after week is getting old.
Mike Holmgren can’t fault anyone for being sick of it.