We live in the Cleveland, Ohio area.
As a result, there is no doubt many people will put all of the blame for today’s 31-17 Browns loss to the Detroit Lions on QB Brandon Weeden.
Certainly, Weeden’s ill-advised flip under pressure in the fourth quarter that turned into an interception by DeAndre Levy killed any chance Cleveland had of extending its winning streak to four games.
However, remember this. The Browns were leading 17-7 at halftime, and were outscored 24-0 in the second half.
Now recall that Rob Chudzinski’s squad were winning the opening game loss to Miami at halftime and were also winning at Baltimore in game #2. In both contests, the Browns were totally outclassed after halftime and it happened again today.
Whatever adjustments these opponents made during intermission were effective and the Browns’ coaching staff was unable to come up with an antidote for those changes.
You would think the coaching staff would have enough experience to be able to counter what the opposition throws at them, but in the three losses the Browns have suffered this season, that hasn’t been the case.
At halftime, the offense was running the football effectively, although they were aided by WR Travis Benjamin’s 45-yard run off a reverse. Still, Willis McGahee was averaging over four yards per carry and Chris Ogbannaya was also running effectively.
In the second half, Norv Turner’s squad ran the ball just five times.
One thing we can say for sure about Brandon Weeden. He cannot be effective running an attack in which the entire burden is on him, If he is to have success, it has to be as a result of a multidimensional offense.
He struggled in his first two starts when the Browns stopped running in the second half, and he had problems last year when Pat Shurmur ignored the running game.
Remember, the Browns were leading at halftime. They continued to lead the game until 10 minutes were remaining in the game.
After Detroit scored early in the second half to cut the Cleveland lead to 17-14, Turner called two pass plays and another end around.
The Browns intercepted a Matthew Stafford pass on the next possession, ran on first down and then called two more pass plays. That was the last running play of the game and it came late in the third quarter.
They didn’t run it at all in the fourth quarter despite being down by seven points or less for most of the quarter.
Defensively, Ray Horton’s crew couldn’t handle the shift in offensive strategy by Detroit to run most everything through Reggie Bush. Bush either carried our was the intended receiver 15 plays in the second half, and the Browns couldn’t contain him.
And when they did, Stafford found TE Joseph Fauria for three touchdown passes.
Another problem that reared its ugly head was the third down efficiency both on offense and defense. The defense couldn’t get off the field, allowing Detroit to convert on 8 of 14 opportunities, while on offense, Cleveland was stopped nine times in 14 chances.
Stafford’s array on throwing angles also did not allow the Cleveland defense to get its normal amount of sacks, as he went down just once, with Craig Robertson doing the honors.
And we have to point out (as usual), the horrible officiating in the game. LB Quentin Groves was flagged for a personal foul hitting Stafford in the fourth quarter in what appeared to be a legal hit.
And a sideline call on the reception by Greg Little was challenged by Chudzinski and no definitely replay was shown to home viewers even though it appeared Little dragged his second foot in.
The Lions probably helped with their looking for a flag on pretty much every non-successful offensive play.
Now it’s on to Green Bay for what figures to be a very tough game against the Packers, but the Browns are still just a game behind the Bengals and are still tied with the Ravens who lost today.
Here’s hoping for a better game from the coaching staff next week.