No Matter How Much is Changed, Browns Lose the Opener

Next year, the Cleveland Browns should request opening the season on the road, just to try something different.  Because one thing is for sure, no matter who the opponent is, the Browns can’t win the season lidlifter at First Energy Stadium, no matter what it is called.

For the 14th time in 15 seasons, Cleveland starts the year 0-1 after a 23-10 loss to Miami.

It looked like a new era was signaled when the first play from scrimmage for the home team was a Trent Richardson run that went outside for eight yards.  This was something that was never used last season.

However, we have come to this conclusion.  Richardson must have something in his uniform which makes him invisible to his own coaching staff, as we received only 13 carries for the game, with six coming in the first quarter.  Those six carries netted 26 yards.

What is more strange is that of the offense’s first eight plays, a drive culminated by a Brandon Weeden interception, Richardson touched the ball on five of them, gaining 40 yards.

He touched the ball just ten times the rest of the afternoon, and according to our recall just one run was sent to the outside.

This was a 13-10 game going into the fourth quarter, so there was no need to go away from the running game.

After the Browns fell behind 20-10 with 6:51 remaining in the game, they were forced to pass, needing two scores.  Cleveland understandably did not run the ball after that, and Weeden threw 17 of his 53 passes in that time frame.

It is strange that Richardson carried the ball just seven times total the balance of the game.

That lack of a running game allowed the Dolphins’ defense to go after Weeden, who was sacked six times.  Mitchell Schwartz had troubles with Miami DE Cameron Wake, and Oneil Cousins was a disaster at guard.

We were surprised Cousins was not replaced by rookie Garrett Gilkey at some point, he was being beaten that badly.  Surely, GM Michael Lombardi was be searching the waiver wive for an experience guard this week.

Defensively, Ray Horton’s crew shut down the Miami running game, allowing them just 20 yards in 23 attempts.  However, making the Dolphins one-dimensional did not help, because they couldn’t put pressure on QB Ryan Tannehill much after the halftime.

They did have four sacks in total, two by DE Desmond Bryant.

We said coming into the season that Horton’s crew would give up some big plays, and CB Buster Skrine was victimized for a 34 yard TD catch by Brian Hartline, and they allowed the Fish to convert 8 of 16 third downs.

The Browns were horrible in this area too, forcing the Miami defense to stay on the field just once in 14 third down situations.

Fans who are anti-Weeden will point to three interceptions, but the first two were really not his fault.  WR Travis Benjamin didn’t really fight to prevent the first, and WR Greg Little had the second go off his hands into Dmitri Patterson’s waiting ones.

This was a game that could have went either way until the fourth quarter, but the Browns just simply couldn’t make the big play.  Is that the result of losing season after losing season?  Quite possibly.

Eventually, the Dolphins did make the big play with the pass to Hartline, and the Browns couldn’t respond.

The only bright side of this loss is that everyone else in the AFC North lost as well, meaning everyone is still even.

Rob Chudzinski and the coaching staff must learn from this loss quick as they visit the Super Bowl champion Ravens next Sunday, and they will be looking to rebound from the beatdown they received in Denver last Thursday.

This is the new coach’s first challenge of 2013.

JD

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