More thoughts after a closer look at Sunday's Browns-Eagles season opener.
Yes, by now it's a cliche – but perhaps this was an omen:
Or maybe Weeden is just uber-patriotic.
Although there aren't many things more patriotic than this:
Hooray America!! Head Trauma!!
On the next play – a 3rd and 1 – DeMeco Ryans entered the Browns' backfield unblocked and dropped Richardson for a loss.
Ryans effectively shredded the momentum created by Richardson – reducing the dynamic effect of the Browns' top draft pick.
At least we have this:
Or, I sat through this entire game and all I got was a GIF.
Anyway, the bigger point is that Sunday's Browns-Eagles game was of course largely decided by horrid offensive play, crippling turnovers and bad play calling – all wrapped up in a series of missed opportunities and missed momentum.
Richardson's third down run wasn't the first or the last case of missed momentum for the Browns on Sunday.
1st Quarter – After T.J. Ward Causes a Fumble
1st Down – Richardson runs off right guard for 1 yard.
2nd Down – Weeden hits Mohamed Massaquoi for a 24-yard slant.
1st Down – Richardson for 1 yard.
2nd Down – Weeden badly overthrows Massaqoui in the end zone.
3rd Down – Incompletion to Benjamin on a slant route.
4th Down – Phil Dawson Field Goal.
This short drive proved to be the Browns' best chance at actually scoring an offensive touchdown.
1st Quarter – After a Craig Robertson Interception
1st Down – Richardson runs off right guard for 1 yard.
2nd Down – Screen to Alex Smith loses yardage.
3rd Down – Weeden fumbles – pressure from Trent Cole. Penalty.
3rd Down – Weeden to Watson on crossing route – one yard short of FD.
4th Down – Punt
And of course, after a series of failed preseason screen passes, what would you expect to happen in the regular season?
2nd Quarter – After a Travis Benjamin End-Around
1st Down – Richardson runs for a yard.
2nd Down – Guess What?
Following this beautiful play:
Guess what play Shurmur calls?
1. Is there some childhood trauma involving a screen pass that Shurmur is trying to exercise? Do the Browns have a team therapist (one represented by Bob LaMonte)?
2. Assuming I live an average lifetime for a relatively healthy American male, will I ever see the Browns successfully complete a screen pass?
3rd Down – A timeout is called – just to further kill any lingering momentum.
3rd Down – Weeden goes all Derek Anderson and blasts a pass into Greg Little's chest. The ball pops up and momentum is officially ruined.
Late 2nd Quarter – Just Because
It probably didn't matter much in the long run, but Owen Marecic dropped a 3rd and 2 swing pass.
Three points here:
1. The Eagles continually had 8 or 9 defenders against the Browns' rushing game. The Eagles' linebackers feasted all game. Perhaps this led to Shurmur calling a play action on 3rd and short.
2. I'm stealing this from someone on Twitter, but "Owen Marecic is the most worthless player on the Browns."
3. Anyone else hear John Lynch's line about Marecic also dropping this same pass in practice? If it didn't work in practice, then….never mind. My brain hurts.
And does anyone really want to re-hash Weeden's "Hail Mary Scramble?"
3rd Quarter – After Another Defensive Stop
1st Down – Weeden Underthrows Benjamin on the Sideline….Again.
I'm guessing the Browns' offensive brain trust can't judge the height of the Browns' receivers from the coaches' box.
Wondering what's going on in Shurmur's mind?
What's an adjective phrase for "nepotism hire?"
And here's the debut of "Weeden Face."
And doesn't the Browns' own Ned Flanders (Reggie Hodges) look like he has a murder boner?
3rd Quarter – After an L.J. Fort Interception
1st Down – Richardson loses three yards.
2nd Down – Slant to Massaquoi for 13 yards.
1st Down – Weeden sacked. Late hit penalty.
1st Down – Incomplete – slant to Gordon.
2nd Down – Richardson – left guard for a yard.
3rd Down – Incomplete – slant to Massaquoi.
4th Down – Dawson Field Goal.
3rd Quarter – After a Joe Haden Interception
1st Down – Now I can die in peace.
A successfully completed screen pass?
A successfully completed screen pass.
These Browns are going places.
2nd Down – Richardson left counter for 5.
1st Down – Weeden overthrows Alex Smith in end zone – Eagles' flag.
1st and Goal – Richardson off left guard – no gain.
2nd and Goal – Weeden to Watson for 6.
3rd and Goal – Weeden incomplete – "intended for Rodgers-Cromartie."
4th and Goal – Dawson Field Goal.
After D'Qwell Jackson makes scoring touchdown look ridiculously easy…
4th Quarter – After the Eagles Take the Lead
1st Down – Exactly what did you think would happen?
1. Weeden is a rookie QB who will mistakes. However, he also needs some fundamental work. It's not a good sign that Weeden already looks jittery in the pocket and he did make some off-balance throws. (Does this sound familiar?) Considering all the "QB experts" on the Browns' staff, perhaps these things will be worked out throughout the
preseason regular season.
2. All the football writers who mindlessly repeated drivel about the Eagles' "Wide-Nine" defense won't realize this, but the Eagles didn't do much more against the Browns than run a basic 4-3. The reason the Browns couldn't run was because the Eagles' linebackers easily slipped into gaps.
3. The Browns' receivers weren't terrible. Most of the attention will be deflected towards Greg Little's drop, but some of Weeden's throws had zero touch on them. It's early, but the Browns may have just drafted Derek Anderson 2.0.
4. Mitchell Schwartz wasn't terrible either.
5. The Browns' defensive line was far from terrible – in fact, there was some great interior quickness. Bonus points have to go to veterans Juqua Parker and Frostee Rucker – who looked far younger than advertised.
6. Yes, the Browns' linebackers performed well and yes, L.J. Fort could eventually be a starter. And yes, Craig Robertson showed that he wasn't completely overwhelmed. But yes, Andy Reid is from that school of West Coast coaches who love to call passing plays – even when they have a dominant running back on the field.
7. I am hopeful for the Browns' defense moving forward – but I also realize that the teams who simply continued to run the ball against the 2011 Browns eventually won. And considering how terrible Shurmur's offense, is….
8. Free Joe Haden. Just like we probably don't realize what we have in Josh Cribbs and Joe Thomas, it's time to fully celebrate that our Browns feature one of the league's top cornerbacks. Although DeSean Jackson made some first half plays, Haden nearly won the game for the Browns in the second half.
9. Overall, the speed of the Browns' defense is apparent. Buster Skrine and Dmitri Patterson made plays. The recent injuries to Chris Gocong and yesterday's Sheldon Brown injury may not affect the defense as much as we previously thought.
10. Pat Shurmur was talked into second half challenges by both his players and the crowd. This may mark the first time Shurmur has listened to anyone upon his Cleveland arrival.