Upon Further Review: Colts

The Browns 17-13 loss to Indianpolis last Sunday does not entirely rest on Josh Gordon's fingertips. Sorry, he's not the scapegoat many have portrayed him to be.

It was only a matter of time before all of this…

17 Rushing Attempts against a weak Run Defense
41 Passing Attempts
9 Penalties for 75 Yards
Another revival of Special Teams mistakes
A 1-5 team punting on 4th and 1 late in the game.

…would be summarized by the following:

PD – Josh Gordon's Costly Drop Costs Browns

Mission accomplished, PD.

Greg Little was getting a bit boring, no?

After a game in which the Browns thought about running the ball against an undersized defense, then decided to throw 40 passes (except for that one Fourth and 1) and yet again displayed all the careless hallmarks of a poorly-coached team – somehow Josh Gordon – a 21-year old who should still be in college is the scapegoat.

And for those of you paying attention, Gordon took an unnecessary blame for the entire loss – which only shows he is far more mature than his Head Coach.

Anyway, onto to some other scapegoats. Like one of the only three or four offenses remaining that features a "blocking fullback."

How's that working out?

Luckily for the Browns, a few plays later an "old scapegoat"/the guy who if used properly could become Cleveland's version of Percy Harvin, Greg Little, bails out his team.

But then, Gordon again cost the Browns – this time in the form of an all-too predictable fourth down defensive penalty.

Looks like someone will be running laps at Monday's practice. If this were 2009, of course.

But it's 2012, where the Browns' Head Coach is only an Offensive Coordinator – one who occasionally figures out the rhythm of the game and makes a nice call.

But if you're into scapegoats, ignore the fact that Josh Gordon scores another touchdown here.

It took Shurmur a while to realize how effective play action can be, but on this particular play, every member of the Browns' offense plays their role perfectly – from the offensive line "selling" their blocks, to Weeden showing some of his best and most decisive footwork yet – to of course a great throw to a perfectly positioned Gordon.

On this final note, Gordon – who again has had to battle uphill with this offense all year – is becoming skilled at using his body to his advantage.

But after such a brilliant play, Shurmur again shows why he is the league's most inconsistent offensive play caller (who also happens to be a Head Coach)…

It's not often a 3rd Down screen into the dirt leads to much…

But then again, the Browns' offense ground to a halt on third downs during the decisive fourth quarter. In a game where the Browns eternally trailed by four, it appeared that Montario Hardesty and the offensive line were beginning to heat up – but any progress was shuttered by Shurmur' play calls – which morphed into taking continual shots down field.

Normally, such an approach is welcome – as opposed to Shurmur's classic 3rd and 4 calls. However, yet again it's revealed that Shurmur falls in love with a particular play and calls it far beyond it's practical level of effectiveness.

During the fourth quarter, there was no balance to the Browns' offense – despite the encouraging signs coming from the running game. The run/pass balance overall of 17 rushes to 41 passes again shows the penchant of an offensive coordinator who is both pressing and seemingly unaware of the realities of the game unfolding in front of him.

As for the rest of the Browns (which includes defense and special teams….two more areas that Shurmur technically oversees), some old familiar problems returned, including defensive players being out of position and special teams suffering another mid-season meltdown.

Regarding the defense, Browns fans experienced how masterfully balanced play calling can allow a less talented team achieve success. Say what you will about Bruce Arians, but the veteran offensive coordinator continually put his Colts into positions to succeed. The Colts balanced tough inside running with misdirection and gave Andrew Luck a variety of quick drops and down field targets to keep the Browns' defense unsettled for the entire afternoon.

Overall, the Colts as a whole aren't that much more talented than the Browns. In fact, the two teams are fairly equal. However, it became obvious that the Colts clearly prepared better and out coached the Browns. The Colts – who featured nearly as many rookies as the Browns AND who basically had to comb the nether regions of the free agent wire to field a defense – looked like a seasoned veteran club compared to the always erratic Browns.

On one hand, Sunday's game was never out of reach. However, even a four-point margin proved to be an illusion – as the Colts controlled the clock through much of the afternoon, allowing Shurmur to simply choke his offense enough to secure a Colts' victory.

And while the final result was close and familiar echoes of "process" or "patience" will be heard this week, it's worth remembering how new team owner Jimmy Haslam stated that the Browns "could be" 3-3 heading into this game.

Of course, after seeing how the Colts controlled the game using a similarly young roster and now boast a 3-3 mark, I'm wondering if Haslam makes the connection.

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