The Cleveland Browns certainly are a creative bunch, aren’t they? They keep finding new and better ways to lose every week.
Today, they brought field goals to a touchdown fight, which is never a good idea.
They scored five times to the Baltimore Ravens four, but because they couldn’t get into the end zone, they lost once again, 25-15 heading into their bye week.
After a first quarter where the Ravens totally dominated the game and led 14-0, the Browns returned the favor in the next two and a half quarters, totally shutting down Baltimore and taking a 15-14 lead with 8:48 to go in the contest.
From there, Baltimore took over the game, aided by a questionable roughing the passer penalty on S T.J. Ward and marching 81 yards in nine plays to take back the lead at 22-15.
Then, Browns coach Pat Shurmur topped off a curious play calling game by going for it on 4th and 2 on their own 28 with almost four minutes to go. They called a slant pass which wasn’t close, giving Baltimore the ball back in point-blank range.
A worse play/pattern occured on third down and 4 when WR Greg Little for some reason ran a two yard out pattern which left Cleveland still short on fourth down. Little simply has to get past the sticks on that play.
Shurmur did do a good job in not going pass happy down 14-0 heading into the second quarter. He stayed with the ground game as was rewarded with another 100 yard game by Trent Richardson, his third of the season and second straight.
However, the play calling had a very conservative nature to it, with very few downfield throws. It was back to the dink and dunk attack showed by the Browns a year ago, particularly when Cleveland got inside the Raven 30-yard line.
New owner Jimmy Haslam had to be sitting there shaking his head like the fans of his new football team.
The question for Shurmur has to be why get timid? First of all, you are 2-6 and a win over the Ravens could have been the turnaround your football team needed.
Secondly, you have some decent skill players now. Why not give them the ball in space.
Lastly, on the biggest play of the game, the aforementioned 4th and 2, why did you go empty backfield and have Richardon split out as a wide receiver?
Those are things that make us all confused, including the new boss.
Cleveland outgained Baltimore 272 to 146 after the first quarter, yet only outscored the Ravens 15-11 in that time frame. How does anyone answer that?
Brandon Weeden was 20 for 37 on the game for only 176 yards and threw two interceptions, one of which after the game was already decided.
The problem is Shurmur’s offense which doesn’t product points.
Yes, they have scored 21 or more points three times this season, but that only means in 2/3 of the team’s contests this year they have been under that total. And now in 25 games coached by Shurmur, they have scored more than 21 points just four times.
In today’s NFL, you have to put points on the board. In today’s early games, every victorious squad scored at least that many points.
The Browns had five scoring opportunities on the game and did not penetrate the end zone once.
And it is not as though Phil Dawson, and once again, how great is he?, was banging out 50 yard kicks. His longest make was 41 yards.
Outside of the penalty on Little for illegal formation which nullified a TD throw to Josh Gordon, Cleveland never threw the ball into the end zone despite being in the red zone before every one of Dawson’s kicks.
It was almost as though the coaching staff was screaming “don’t turn it over” into Weeden’s helmet during the play.
One other bone to pick today. The officiating crew was awful today, with the worst call being a personal foul called on Gordon on a block on Ed Reed in the third quarter. If the NFL would like to explain how that was a penalty, let alone why a guy 30 yards away from the play called it, we are all ears.
It sounds odd to say, but there is no question that watching this football team play, they are better. However, their record says they are 2-7, and that’s all that matters.