If you want to defeat a quality football team on the road, you have to get off to a good start.
With that in mind, the Cleveland Browns lost today’s game to the Green Bay Packers in the first eight minutes of the first quarter.
The Browns have lost two straight and fall to 3-4 on the season with a 31-13 loss at Lambeau Field.
On Cleveland’s first drive, QB Brandon Weeden threw two incomplete passes, the second one on third and nine, sailing at least five yards over Greg Little’s head. It wasn’t even close.
Green Bay fumbled the resulting punt, but Cleveland couldn’t come up with it.
The Packers drove the 40 yards in just four plays, the last one a pass to Jermichael Finley for 10 yards and a touchdown when three Brown defenders had a chance to tackle the Green Bay TE, but failed to do so.
On the next drive, Weeden airmailed another throw to Davone Bess on third down, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave Cleveland a second chance.
After a nice throw and catch for 19 yards to Greg Little, the Browns had a fourth and one at the Packer 37, and Weeden threw an interception on a sideline pass to Bess that was short of the target.
Eleven plays and almost six minutes later, Eddie Lacy scored on a one-yard run giving the Pack a 14-0 advantage.
The Browns could have left Wisconsin right then and there, because this game was basically over.
From that point on, the Cleveland offense resembled the Pat Shurmur version, with runs that went nowhere mixed in with a dink and dunk passing attack.
The Browns gained just 216 yards for the entire contest, with a woeful average gain per pass play of three yards. Weeden hit on just 17 of 42 throws for a paltry 147 yards. He was also sacked three times.
The Cleveland offense gained just 83 yards on the ground, with Willis McGahee leading the way with 39 yards on 11 carries.
Either Green Bay did an exceptional job of shutting down WR Josh Gordon, or Weeden didn’t look his way because he caught only two passes for 21 yards.
A better guess is that it was pounded into Weeden’s head all week to get rid of the ball quicker, so he went with a ton of checkdown throws.
We understand that coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner think Weeden can play at this level, but that may be their coaching egos talking. They have to look at the results and consider some sort of change.
Also, we understand the front office wants to find their “franchise” quarterback in the next spring’s draft, but they should also realize the Cleveland fan base is tired of watching a non-productive offense once again.
Weeden did remember that Jordan Cameron was on the roster, hitting him seven times, but for just 55 yards.
You hate to keep going back to talking about Brian Hoyer, but he showed this offense does have some weapons, particularly Gordon and Cameron, with a splash of Travis Benjamin.
Those weapons are not being utilized by the current starting quarterback.
By the way, Thaddeus Lewis, disposed of by the current front office, hit 21 of 32 throws for 202 yards in leading the Buffalo Bills to a win in Miami. After last year’s game against the Steelers, why would you just release him?
We bring this up because apparently the staff isn’t going to use Jason Campbell no matter what.
Once again, we use the theory of not being able to do any worse. Could Campbell play worse than Weeden did today? Perhaps, but it couldn’t be that much worse.
Next week, the Browns have another tough test, traveling to Kansas City to take on the undefeated Chiefs.
If the offense has indeed reverted to checkdown city, it will be difficult to win another game this season.
Maybe Joe Banner and Michael Lombardi secretly don’t care that much about that.