Sometimes the obvious thing is the right thing to do.
That’s something coach Pat Shurmur needs to learn, but unfortunately, his learning experience cost his football team a game they should have won, as they lost to the Indianapolis Colts, 17-13, and dropped to 1-6 on the season.
The Colts came into the game not being able to stop the run, getting gashed each of the last two weeks. So, what did the Browns do?
The passed on 41 of their 58 plays from scrimmage, despite not trailing by more than one score for the entire game.
On the flip side, Indy came in to the contest not being able to run the football at all, but they ran it 37 times for 148 yards, an average of 4.0 yards per attempt.
Can’t run the ball, can’t stop the run. Where have we heard that before?
Pretty much every week since 1999. That’s the biggest reason the Cleveland Browns cannot win football games.
Otherwise, this was a game where mistake after mistake cost the Browns a victory in a game where they had numerous opportunities to claim their second straight victory. They showed today why they are a bad football team.
The most obvious mistake was the dropped touchdown pass by Josh Gordon late in the fourth quarter which would have given Cleveland a 20-17 lead. But another error followed on the next play.
If you are going to throw the ball deep on 3rd and 1 at that point in the game, the thought process has to be that you have another play to get the first down.
That would be the thought unless you are Shurmur and you decide to punt the ball away to the Colts.
You also have three special teams penalties that nullified good returns by Josh Cribbs and took away good field position.
You have an unnecessary roughness penalty on D”Qwell Jackson which gave Indianapolis three additional plays early in the fourth quarter.
You have a missed tackle on an obvious running play by CB Sheldon Brown, which led to a 26 yard run by the Colts’ RB Vick Ballard when they were basically trying to just run time off the clock.
You have a missed extra point on the Browns’ first touchdown because Reggie Hodges dropped the snap and hold.
That’s too many mistakes to make in a close game, even if that contest is against a team who had the first pick in the NFL draft a year ago.
However, the biggest problem was the lack of effort in trying to exploit the Colts’ inability to stop the run coming into the game. In the second half, Shurmur treated the game plan like the Browns were behind by three touchdowns, not eight points, running the ball just two times in the third quarter and just six times in the second half.
By the way, those six runs netted 21 yards.
Trent Richardson had eight carries for eight yards, and only caught two passes for 11 yards. He appeared tentative hitting the hole for the second straight week, but he did gain nine yards on his first catch on a pass to the flat, which the Browns didn’t use the rest of the game.
Montario Hardesty did hit the hole quick, and gained 28 yards on seven attempts, but the Browns biggest rushing play of the game was a scramble by Brandon Weeden of 13 yards.
Weeden did hit 25 of 41 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns, one of 14 yards to Greg Little, and the other a 33-yard strike to Gordon, his fourth TD reception in the last three games.
Defensively, Cleveland couldn’t stop the Colts in the first half, but Dick Jauron made adjustments in the second half and held Indy to just a field goal. Brown was picked on quite a bit, but did cause the only turnover of the game when he sacked Andrew Luck and recovered the resulting fumble.
It was a very disappointing loss for the Browns, because they came into the game probably with the better team. That won’t happen too much this season.
Once again, the propensity of this team to ignore the run killed the Browns. New team CEO Joe Banner has seen this movie before, in Philadelphia with Andy Reid as the pass happy coach.