It was ugly. It was very ugly.
Rushing for 290 yards and passing for another 158 yards, the Ravens overwhelmed the Browns at every turn, despite the Browns being within striking distance 10-3, in the third quarter.
In essence, the Browns had no reason to be in this game. Only in score they were, as the Ravens offense and defense over-powered and pushed the Browns around, nearly at will.
The Browns, especially on defense battled, but were no match for the superior Baltimore physicality, preparation and experience. Though, youth wasn't the basis of this demoralizing loss.
It was all talent. It is coaching. It is confidence.
Week after week the same is viewed on game-day. The Browns can't move the football, throw extremely short passes, balls dropped and punt. Defensively, the Browns defense stops the run for a play or two, but gives up just enough yardage on the ground to keep them on the field.
In a nut-shell, this is a poor football team. Years and years of turmoil, change and indecision has left Cleveland Browns football to what it is, and has been for the better part of 12 years.
There are no excuses acceptable for the manner which this team plays. The National Football League is about one thing – winning, and the Browns must learn how to play the game on that level – a winner.
Much is said about the youth and inexperience within the player roster. 23 players with a year or less experience, whether on-field or on a practice squad is alarming number.
Much more should be said about those putting this team into the position it is.
A fine line separates a successful team and an after-thought such as the Browns.
A team such as the Browns headed into the season playing the youth and inexperienced player(s). Other teams may compete by adding bodies of experience to help bridge the gap between such youth and development and winning.
But, if a team fields a young QB, basically a rookie in a new system and surround the balance of the offense, a new offense mind you with questionable talent, and one is only left to wonder what the true chance of success is.
Obviously, those chances are slim – if the 2011 Browns are the example.
When you look at the Browns, blaming the likes of QB Colt McCoy or offensive linemen Jason Pinkston and Shawn Lauvao isn't the answer. These guys are playing as well as they can in the structure they are in. Simply put, they may not be good enough to make a difference for this team on game-day, not today, not tomorrow, maybe never.
They were put into the position they are today.
Granted, a football player seeks the opportunity to compete. That chance is something most any player wants, it's what the player does with the opportunity that makes or breaks his future potential.
There has been a bright moment within the darkness which has been Cleveland Browns football in the 2011 season. Though, guys such as McCoy, Lauvao, Pinkston and others just may not be good enough, not at this time, not thrust into the fray of a new system.
It's not to blame those mentioned. The three players may be the most noted when discussions about the state of the team are engulfing.
McCoy is the QB and he hasn't proven to be the presence a team in the game today at the position. Lauvao and Pinkston man the LG and RG spots and have been beaten too often on game-day attempting to protect McCoy, or in run-blocking situations.
Much of the same could be said about the WR's, the LB's, and the D-line and so on.
Without the talent, coaching, experience and confidence at the professional level, the fine line between winning and losing is often immeasurable.
Today what we think about McCoy, Lauvao, Pinkston and others really means very little. It's those men bunkered in the Browns Berea, Ohio training facility that means everything.
Hopefully those men continue to retool this team objectively, as the issue doesn't appear to simply be the on-field talent.
‘Next year' is a common thing heard associated to Browns football, by Browns fans. Again, next year, year-two of Pat Shurmur and company better be much better, or the masses of Browns fans may continue their unparalleled march away from the team with continue.
Because a 4-8 record is not good enough and the Browns are becoming inconsequential on Sunday in Cleveland.
The vast number of empty seats only help prove the notion as fact.
- QB Colt McCoy again didn't see receivers breaking into the clear against the Ravens. While the receivers weren't beating coverage consistently, opportunities were present and those opportunities weren't capitalized on.
- Not to blame this ongoing issue solely on McCoy, as he did break the called play in completing a downfield pass to RB Peyton Hillis and another to TE Evan Moore late in the game. The issue is these two completions were the exception to the vast rule.
- The Ravens showed many defensive looks upfront against the Browns. Interestingly, there were a couple stunts not viewed on tape, which left the Browns right-side of the offensive line baffled – and waving as Ravens defenders met at McCoy.
- An offense has little chance to succeed if they are unable to run a defense off the ball. Throughout the game, the Browns passing game was consistently comprised of short routes run – which the Ravens defense respected little.
- This game was yet another match-up where the Browns passing game was basically relegated to short attempts. Whether by design or inability, this organization must improve this facet. It's understood head coach Pat Shurmur likes to utilize the short passing game much like a running play, but the problem this team encounters is the ability to do anything other than the short scheme is flawed. You don't win in the NFL without being a down-field threat.
- Josh Who? Why line up the man if he isn't going to be looked toward. Cribbs has every right, every reason to be upset with the lack of touches, the lack of winning and the lack of utilization.
- If the season is going to remain one of playing the youth, why isn't WR Carlton Mitchell on the playing field? At the very least, he is the quickest receiver and can run a vertical route. This just happens to be an aspect of the Browns offense which is missing.
- A big difference between the manner which the Baltimore Ravens play and that of the Browns is physicality. The Ravens are physical, confident and force their will upon an opposition. The Ravens offensive line and defensive front-seven get their bodies into the opposition and are relentless. The manner which the Browns offensive line and defensive front-seven were man-handled was a work of art by the Ravens.
- This isn't to make scapegoats out of players thrust into a position -- but the play of the Browns safeties leave something to be desired. While Mike Adams and Usama Young have contributed, neither player has elevated his play to be that of a consistent presence on a good football team, as neither player supports the run well and take bad angles against the pass.
- RG Shawn Lauvao and RT Tony Pashos struggled against the aggressive pressure coming from the Ravens defensive front-seven. While Pashos' struggles could be expected as the player being rather slow-footed, but Lauvao's footwork isn't bad, but his reactionary skills have been slow to develop.
- For the past few weeks this column has pressed the question as to why this team doesn't utilize the screen pass to beat a hard-charging defensive scheme. I suppose my answer was watching Pashos try to lead the screen blocking -- sorry guys, way to slow, frightening so.