Cincinnati 23 Cleveland 20.
No moral victories. A loss is a loss and especially tough when the Browns made numerous errors which enabled the Bengals to overcome the Browns.
Sorry boys and girls, but this Browns team simply isn't good enough to make mistakes (on the field and by the head coach) and win a game such as the one today against the Cincinnati Bengals. Despite an effort from the offense long awaited – at times – the Browns offense played its shell game and looked overwhelmed when it mattered most late in the game.
A winning team does not drop multiple passes a game. Successful teams don't make the mental errors this Browns team does. Playing not to lose does not breed confidence on the playing field.
Most teams will not win when the defensive line is in the face of the QB immediately. Most teams would employ an offensive scheme to manipulate the situation and use that pressure to their advantage.
In Cleveland, there is little swaying from the system. With this Browns team, with this head coach, the questionable decisions appear to be the weekly norm, rather than the sporadic complaint.
With that, we'll proceed to some specifics………….
- 4.4 yards per pass attempt. Seriously? This stat alone tells a story as to why this Browns team is as poor a passing team as any in the league. Don't believe me, remove mop-up-time passing numbers in Browns games and realize the ineptitude.
- This Browns offense is incapable of throwing an effective screen pass. Time after time as the Bengals defense simply pinned their ears back and came after McCoy, the screen pass would have been a terrific weapon of choice to beat the defense. On one occasion the Browns attempted a screen and it looked worse than a pee-wee game I witnessed this year.
- Just how many pass attempt down-field were there in the game on Sunday? And, how often did the Browns passing game appear legitimate following the opening Browns series of the game?
If you are looking at one hand and attempting to think back on the game, you're right!
While this may not be the popular choice, I am as skeptical as ever on whether McCoy can truly be a dynamic presence at the QB spot.
While displaying the leadership qualities in communication and toughness, McCoy has a large mountain to climb if he is going to be 'the man' due to some physical short-fall.
It's far too easy to say the protection is poor or the running game is bad. From such at times true issues, McCoy's inaccuracy and inability to attack the second and third level of defense is the most pressing matter......outside of the accuracy.
I hope I'm wrong on McCoy, but the tape doesn't lie. He has five games left to take this team upon his shoulders and achieve, without gimmick.
Then, I watch numerous dropped passes and poor routes run and simply ponder what it all really is when evaluating the Browns offense.
- RB Peyton Hillis returns from a never-ending pulled hamstring. Many as I believe this is Hillis' end-game in Cleveland in attempts to save face and muster value.
Obviously, Hillis was only effective in a straight-line. He lacked an explosive burst, he couldn't cut and wasn't able to drift into the passing game.
Being said, how could head coach Pat Shurmur place the rushing game into the hands of a RB that hadn't played in five weeks or so and one which wasn't a threat in other than before-mentioned?
Chris Ogbonnaya stepped in when Hillis and Hardesy were injured and has gained the trust of his teammates and his productivity has been increasing. What Ogbonnaya had done well over the past two weeks had been making a cut and running to daylight.
An aspect of rushing the football this offense has lacked, prior to the Hillis and Hardesty injury woes.
Would have Ogbonnaya made a difference? Nobody knows, but he would have served admirably as a change of pace in the backfield this offense lacked on Sunday.
- Teams are finding the middle of the field easy pickings against the Browns defense. The Browns LB's lack quickness and rely on positioning and experience to succeed. The soft spots are becoming easier to find for the opposing QB's.
- Stopping the run is an attitude a player, a team has from the early days of camp. This Browns defense against the run has far too many issues getting off blocks and lack the ability at this time to seal the edges or get to those edges to stop a ball-carrier from getting his shoulders squared up-field.
- Give rookie safety Eric Hagg a little breathing room. Due to injuries, Hagg, a late round selection in the 2011 draft has been thrust into playing meaningful reps. Cincinnati TE Jermaine Gresham is a load and a difficult stop for even the best in the defensive backfield. Hagg hasn't played poorly and has gotten better with playing time.
- CB Joe Haden is a solid CB, very solid. But, in recent weeks he has the look of a CB looking to make big-plays, rather than maintaining his lofty status as a cover-corner. Haden has given up some big plays to receivers which he has blanketed well when playing his cover game.
- WR/KR Josh Cribbs looks to be worn down. In passing routes he doesn't have the explosiveness we have grown to see on game-day. The kickoff rule changes certainly have hampered the Browns return game, but Cribbs appears methodical.
Some I do believe is the workload, but the pedestrian special teams of the Browns plays greatly into the equation.
The Browns are not close to the "special" special teams they had been in recent seasons. Seasons which Cribbs was known as the best kickoff return player in the game.
But, it's not the Cribbs issue alone.
From running lanes to the great blocks and heady play of those brought to play specifically on the special teams units, special teams had an identity in Cleveland.
That identity has become a negative.
The Browns relied on field position provided by the special teams units to gain an edge. Special teams play was a weapon within the Browns game-day experience, now not so much.
From questionable snaps from center to missed assignments leading to blocked kick attempts, the Browns special teams struggled, especially at the most inopportune times.
- LB Scott Fujita is likely to have a suffered a broken hand during the game. Fujita will have the hand checked upon arriving back in Cleveland.
- LB Kaluka Maiava suffered a knee injury and will be evaluated later Sunday or Monday morning.
- CB Dimitri Patterson came out of the game Sunday with some soreness in his knee, but expects the knee to be alright. Patterson could be evaluated on Monday if pain persists.
- QB Colt McCoy escaped his beating in Cincinnati without further incident to his sore shoulder. McCoy will receive his normal physical therapy early in the week.
- RB Peyton Hillis played more than expected and came out of the game in good shape, only suffering game type soreness.