Viewing the Offensively Offensive

The offense of the Cleveland Browns is far from a smooth operating machine. In what was supposed to be a year of development and growth has been quite the contrary at the mid-point if the season.

Another week and another loss in the books. While some things have changed, most remain the same in the world of the Cleveland Browns.

Losses partly due to the lack of offensive prowess. Overpowered and out-schemed on both sides of the ball and an inability to adapt and challenge the opposition.

As this column has been noting since the week-one loss to Cincinnati, this Browns offense is troublesome and head coach Pat Shurmur must open-up his game-day plan.

Sounds like a broken record. This is the Cleveland Browns we have grown to know for the longest period of time.

While we could sit here and sugar-coat the reasons why this Browns team continues to struggle, I'd much rather note the issues I see and have discussed with those in and around the game.

Football isn't an easy game. Football gets much more difficult when fighting you as much as dealing with the opposition.

In no particular order, this is what I know about the issues surrounding this Cleveland Browns team, coaching staff and organization............starting with the QB position and those surrounding positional players.

QB Colt M cCoy continues to have issues getting the ball out of his hands. While many like to point to the receivers and the pass rush as the issue, the truth be told isn't as simple as that.

McCoy, as is the case with many young QB's in this league has trouble with the quick decisions necessary to succeed, as well as having the confidence to throw the ball to a receiver that isn't clearly open.

Squeezing the football into a tight window, a small space which can separate a potentially positive play from an incompletion or interception cannot be ignored. McCoy doesn't have this type of arm, that special aspect within physical ability which can only help a young QB succeed.

In today's NFL, such an attempt or ability is construed as throwing to an open receiver.

Time and time again after reviewing the play of McCoy, I see QB which does not see the third level of the defense and will not throw the ball to a receiver, unless the receiver is in the clear.

Rather than take a three, five or seven step drop and get the ball out, McCoy struggles to throw the ball down-field. These struggles are not simply a QB not having open receivers to throw the ball to.

In the NFL, a QB must have the skill-set and confidence to throw the ball, especially against man coverage. In the case of McCoy, there is a hesitancy that prohibits him from making this type of attempt.

The Browns offense has executed at a much higher rate when in the no-huddle or hurry-up scheme. While not being the norm for an offensive unit at the professional level, results show McCoy and the offense are a greater threat when dictating the pace of the game.

So, why not get this unit into a position where the comfort level and confidence is at its highest level?

Hard to tell. The Shurmur game-day scheme appears predicated on first-down handoffs for minimal yardage, thus putting an already offensive offense at a disadvantage.

And about that offense. The WCO is predicated on accuracy, short to intermediate passing and a rhythm passing scheme. The Browns have mastered the short passing game, averaging far less than six yards a pass attempt, which is poor for an NFL offense and QB.

As the WCO consists of the QB lining up under center, as well as in the shotgun, Shurmur appears pressed to ensure McCoy plays under the conventional wisdom of the scheme.

Again, why? Today's NFL is a QB driven game. Quick strike offenses, strong passing games tend to lead toward victory.

McCoy was strong in the shotgun at the collegiate level and has displayed improved play in this position at the professional level, so why not utilize this more often?

Don't say this direction would hamper any chance for the running game to be successful. The Browns have rushed the ball poorly in the 2011 season and have lost their top-two RB's to injury during the disappointing process.

Play-action? Not happening either. Defenses do not respect the Browns passing game, as they often load the box with defenders in challenging the Browns offense to beat them over the top.

Undoubtedly, the play at the quarterback position has been inconsistent, which was somewhat expected heading into the season. Without an off-season to learn the West Coast offensive scheme and gain experience with a new coaching staff and players, the best expectation was the offense would steadily develop.

But, this development has been stalled due to the lack of foresight prior to the season. Basically, the Browns trot two inexperienced linemen out there to start. Needless to say, McCoy and the offense are under siege play in and play out.

Wouldn't a veteran presence help the team learn how to win? Learn how to not only play the position at a high level, but possibly win and remain competitive?

Again, I believed that would have been the right move.

In a season when three victories should be a time of some excitement about Browns football, at the halfway mark, the season thus far has been littered in disappointment.

What has transpired over the first eight games of the season has been a disturbing trend head coach Pat Shurmur has been unable to break with his second-year signal-caller.

Whether it is the pressure the QB faces, or the lack of stability, experience and of a balanced offensive scheme, the play from this position must improve if this team is going to have an opportunity to develop and become successful.

In as much as the QB has struggled, the play-calling, especially on first-down has left the offense facing long odds. When an offense cannot get into a third and manageable yardage situation, a defense can pin its ears back and attack.

This philosophy has been utilized consistently against the Browns offense since the season opener. The inability to run the ball effectively and a threat in the passing game, the Browns offense, already short of difference-makers is at a significant disadvantage.

Much as been said about the Browns offense not enabling McCoy to audible out of plays, having hot reads and sight recognition with receivers. All of this speculation is untrue; McCoy has the approval from the head coach to get the offense into a better matchup.

Until Shurmur can put his offense in a position to utilize players to their strengths, the offense will remain inconsistent and unbalanced.

What we have viewed in weeks one through nine are likely to be the view witnessed in weeks 10 through 17. Why should the expectation be anything other than the norm?

In Cleveland, the norm is always a letdown.

Why should Shurmur be anything other than the norm?


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