Red Zone Blues

The Cleveland Browns are among the league's worst in scoring touchdowns inside the 20-yard line.

BEREA, Ohio — There's been a lot of talk about the Cleveland Browns red zone offense.

Unfortunately, the Browns aren't in the red zone often. Through nine games, the Browns have been inside the opponent's 20-yard line — or what is referred to as the red zone —just 18 times. It is the second-lowest amount in the NFL. The worst is this week's opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have been in the red zone 15 times.

Compare those numbers to the New England Patriots, who have scored 26 touchdowns in 41 trips to the red zone or the Green Bay Packers, who have scored 23 touchdowns in 37 trips.

Overall, the Browns are ranked 23rd in the red zone, having scored just 76 points. They have scored eight touchdowns for a 44.4 percent conversion. They have kicked five field goals on seven attempts for 83.3 percent conversion.

To make matters worse, the Browns haven't scored a touchdown at home since Oct. 2 when they lost 31-13 to the Titans.

Pat Shurmur was very direct and to the point when asked what the Browns have to do when they get inside the opponents' 20.

"Score touchdowns," he said. "I don't worry about that. You just keep working to get better. These guys don't have a problem with confidence. We just have to go out and get it done.

"Last week, we didn't get down there. Before that we were pretty good. We just have to get down there. Things happen at the end of the game. We work a lot on the red zone."

Colt McCoy said the Browns just have to get into the red zone more often.

"We had a shot in the end zone (against the Rams) and we had a penalty that backed us out of the red zone," McCoy said. "Then, when we got down there a couple of times we called a play down there and they pressured us, had to throw hot.

"Overall, we just have to keep getting down there. I think if we get down there, we like our chances. We've done a pretty good job once we get down in there, we just have to continue to work on that and get better."

All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas agreed.

"To say there's one exact reason would be incorrect because when you get in the red zone it's just about taking care of business and doing things one play at a time," Thomas said. "When you do those things correctly, you get in the end zone. At the beginning of the year we were probably one of the best red zone offenses in the NFL and last few games we haven't been as efficient. We've gotten there more times, which is an improvement. We haven't been as efficient getting touchdowns. Now, when we fix that we'll be one of the better offenses in the NFL."

McCoy said the Browns didn't miss on plays in the red zone last week, but admits they can do a better job.

"We had some run plays and some pass plays and we didn't miss a touchdown, that's for sure," McCoy said. "You'd like to take more shots, but when they come after you have to take what they give you.

"I think we can do a better job down there, we just have to continue to keep working. "We spend Fridays on the red zone, so we'll get better. We've done a pretty nice job all year when we've gotten down there. We've just have to get it in the red zone."

Shurmur said teams play defense differently once a team enters the red zone.

"Most teams play differently (defensively) in the red zone," he said. "When you get down there you have to do what you can to put the ball into the end zone."

Shurmur said the offense was close to scoring touchdowns against the Rams.

"First off, there were a handful of plays that if we'd executed them better, we'd have scored," he said. "We have players that can do it."

Shurmur doesn't think the offense has lost confidence when they enter the red zone.

"I don't think tightening up is a problem," he said. "You just keep pushing. There's no magic formula."

Shurmur said he is confident the offense will become effective when they get inside the 20.

"What we can build on is the players are playing hard and fast," he said. "That's the foundation of what you want and you can build on that."

Notebook

Hardesty ‘Has a Chance': Shurmur said that he is optimistic that running back Montario Hardesty might be able to play against the Jaguars.

"You had a chance to see him out there running around," Shurmur said. "He'll do the same today and we'll see at the end of the week how he is."

Shurmur was asked if he thought he has a chance to play after missing the past two games with a strained calf.

"I think he does," Shurmur said. "Based on how he progresses today and tomorrow. I think he's looking forward to getting healthy. I think it's important we make sure he's right before we put him out there."

Shurmur said if Hardesty is cleared to play, he will be used.

"If he's ready to go, we'll use him."

Injury Update: Hardesty, running back Peyton Hillis (hamstring) and safety T.J. Ward (foot) didn't practice Wednesday and Hillis and Ward have been ruled out. Shurmur said that Hillis might be back next week, but it could be two more weeks.

"I know he's working very hard to get back," Shurmur said. "Maybe, in the next week or two."

Wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi (concussion), defensive back Dimitri Patterson (knee) and defensive lineman Jayme Mitchell (chest/ankle) didn't play last week and all three are questionable for this week's game.

Patterson (knee) was limited in practice, but Shurmur said he looked good.

"(Dimitri) looked good running around," Shurmur said. "It was good to see him out there."

On Mitchell:

"Jayme will be up and ready."

On Massaquoi:

"Mo did a nice job in practice and felt good and looked good."

Others listed on the injury report as questionable were: defensive lineman Auston English (knee), offensive lineman Tony Pashos (ankle) and defensive lineman Jabaal Sheard (thigh). Defensive back Usama Young (shoulder) is probable.

Getting Lucky: It was pointed out to Shurmur that the Browns are 0-9 this season in losing the opening coin toss.

An NFL study shows that teams that win the opening coin toss win about 53 percent of the time.

"We have to win the coin toss."


The OBR Top Stories