We have written and said this for several years, and many others who know pro football have said it too–if you can’t run the ball and stop the run, you aren’t going to be successful in the NFL.
And we say that, knowing full well that the league has put a major emphasis on throwing the pigskin.
The Browns came into the game knowing the Bills were going to run LeSean McCoy, and run him a lot, but they were powerless to stop it, as Buffalo gained 280 yards rushing, more than Cleveland gained in total, in a convincing 33-13 thumping in upstate New York.
The first two times McCoy carried he picked up more than 20 yards each time, a prelude to what kind of day it was going to be.
The other problem that has plagued the defense all season, covering the tight end, was also on display today, as Charles Clay caught 7 balls for 72 yards, including a 19 yard touchdown pass from Tyrod Taylor. Only one wide receiver caught more than one pass in the game for the Bills.
Still, after Robert Griffin III’s 18 yard touchdown run in the third quarter, Cleveland trailed 17-10 with plenty of time remaining in the game.
Unfortunately, the defense couldn’t sustain the momentum, allowing Buffalo to march 75 yards in six plays, and slightly over three minutes later, the Bills were back up by 14 points, and the game was essentially over.
You might think we are picking on Ray Horton’s unit, but it is only disappointment because the defense looked to be making strides the past few weeks, but today, they were dominated.
It was also disappointing that in situations where Taylor was in a passing situation, the Browns brought little pressure. Most notably on a 3rd and 22, when Cleveland brought just four, and allowing a 23 yard completion.
The Browns had just one sack, by rookie Emmanuel Ogbah, who continues to impress.
Why not blitz more in obvious passing situations? After all, it’s not as though a playoff spot is on the line. The team is now 0-14, why not be aggressive.
It has now been four games since the Cleveland defense has caused a turnover. It’s tough to win games that way, not giving your offense a short field to work with.
Speaking of offense, it has now been six weeks since the Browns’ offense has mustered 20 points. Again, there is a good reason Hue Jackson’s team is 0-14.
Griffin put up decent numbers, nothing to show he should be the frontrunner as the starter going into next season. He completed 17 of 28 throws for 196 yards, and did not turn the ball over.
It also baffling why Jackson doesn’t get the ball to his playmakers more often. Terrelle Pryor caught four passes for 19 yards, although he did drop a pass near the goal line before Griffin’s touchdown.
Duke Johnson touched the ball just 10 times, five rushes, five catches, for a total of 93 yards.
It doesn’t seem the Browns use the same plays other teams do, like slant patterns.
This isn’t a question on the competency of the coaching staff. We know the Browns don’t have a lot of experienced talent, but it seems like the staff is hesitant on featuring players.
For example, Isaiah Crowell gained 25 yards on a sweep in the first quarter. That play wasn’t tried again, as far as we could see.
So, now there are only two opportunities for victory this season, the next game coming on Christmas Eve at home against the San Diego Chargers.
It will be interesting to see if Jackson will make changes at certain positions before that game.