Third Down Blues

What was a big reason the Browns lost Sunday's home opener to the Miami Dolphins? Look to the Browns' third-down success, or lack thereof.

BEREA, Ohio — One stat line could sum up the Browns offensive woes from Sunday's 23-10 loss to the Dolphins.

1-of-14 on third down conversions.

No matter what level of football is being played, a team that can't convert on third downs isn't going to be very successful.

"That's not good at all," Davone Bess said. "We have to get better. A lot of those were self-inflicted negatives, alignment issues, false starts, whatever the case may be, we hurt ourselves before the play even started."

Rob Chudzinski pointed to that statistic, as well.

"Third down, we need to focus on and get better at and needs to improve," he said. "We have to be able to make the plays to extend the drives or on defense to be able to get off the field.

"At the end of the day, this is the NFL and a handful of plays that will affect the outcome of the game."

Chudzinski said there were several factors in the third down failures.

"A little bit of everything," he said. "Some of it was being in long third down situations and that makes it tough. When you have a negative play on first or second down and those types of situations makes it tough to convert. We also had some protection issues as well. We made some mental mistakes, as well."

Bess came to the Browns with the reputation as being one of the best third down receivers in the NFL. He caught five passes for 47 yards, with a long of 17 yards. He was targeted 10 times, but had an 18-yard catch called back on a penalty. He said he can't remember a more dismal performance by a team on third down.

"That's something that me personally, I pride myself in being able and wanting the bulls eye unmoving the chains," he said. "One for 14 is never going to get the job done, so we have to do a better job."

Bess said there were a lot of reasons for the poor performance.

"There were a lot of what we call S.I.N.'s (self inflicted negatives)," Bess said. "Sometimes when your back is against the wall, you have to be able to execute from an assignment standpoint. If you don't do that, you're killing yourself before the play even starts. We have to work on things and not kill themselves before we go out and try to execute the play."

Bess said the Browns were able to convert on third downs for the most part in the preseason.

"We did a good job in the preseason of handling the information and it's just us executing," he said. "From a players standpoint, we just have to be a little more detailed. Whether it's studying more or in the film room studying and watching more tape, we have to be able to execute on our behalf."

Bess knows the Browns have to be successful on third down in order to win.

"We know it is what it is," he said. "We all have responsibility. We know the coaches will do a better job. We will do a better job and we just have to be able to execute on critical downs. We all know that third down can be the difference between winning and losing the game and we just have to be more alert and understand (what we need to do)."

Bess thinks the Browns will come back and play much better.

"We have to be able to bounce back," he said."We're disappointed at the outcome, obviously.

"We know we hurt ourselves more than the opposing team did," he said. "We have to get better and we have to attack the day and go in and execute and do what we do in practice and carry it over to the game."

Chudzinski said it's not time to panic.

"Again, this is one game and there's a lot of football left to play," he said. "These guys will learn from going through the process of getting better and looking forward to next week."


Trent's Role: Chudzinski was asked why RB Trent Richardson only carried the ball 13 times in the game after having success on the first two drives.

"I think it was just the course of the game," he said "Trent is a critical part of our offense. We want to get him the ball as much as we can. I thought in the first half we had a pretty good mix going. We had a lot of two minute situations and then obviously, got into the fourth quarter."

Richardson had 47 yards rushing and had two receptions for 30 yards.

"The real key is on third down where we have to convert on third down and give him more opportunities."

Chudzinski was asked if Richardson could stay on the field on third down.

"We can, but we want to make sure that Trent stays fresh, as well."

Weeden's Game: QB Brandon Weeden had a poor game with 26-of-53 for 289 yards and a 48.4 rating. He was sacked six times and hit 16 times.

"The protection issues were there," Chudzinski said. "I think Brandon had some ups and down and there are some throws he would love to have back. I think the one thing you saw was his resiliency and his toughness. I think if anybody had any questions about that prior to this game if you look at the game, he kept bouncing back."

Chudzinski said that Weeden had some bumps and bruises, but physically, he was fine.

"Brandon is a tough player,"Bess said. "There were several times he stayed in there and took some shots. Collectively, overall he did a solid job of getting the guys in the huddle and getting us lined up right to make necessary plays, but we fell short and that's the name of the game."

Cousins Troubles: It was well documented that OL Oniel Cousins had a rough game in his start at right guard. Chudzinski said after the game that Cousins was "the best we have" for the position. Chudzinski said he didn't consider pulling him during the game.

"Oniel has gotten the majority of the reps, so it's important for the guy getting the reps (to play)."

Cousins had four penalties, including two holding calls, an illegal hands call and a false start. One of the penalties called back an 18-yard first down to WR Davone Bess. Another nullified a touchdown pass to TE Gary Barnidge.

Cousins was one of the few players that came into the locker room to face the media.

"Most definitely, I want to do everything in my power to get better," he said. "My main focus is tightening my technique and foot work.

"I have to get better personally and as a group we have to get better."

Chudzinski said all of the offenses problems weren't on Cousins.

"His pass protection was OK, but the penalties we have to eliminate," he said. "Again, Oniel has worked and improved and he will continue to improve."

Chudzinski said he is confident Cousins will be ready to face his former team, the Ravens this Sunday.

"I'm confident he will improve."

Injury Update: Chudzinski said there were no major injuries to come out of the Dolphins game.

"We had some other bumps and bruises, but no major injuries."

He said DB T.J. Ward missed a series with a shoulder injury, but returned.

"We'll get him treatments and see how he is Wednesday."

DL Billy Winn suffered some cramps, but was alright.

Chudzinski was asked about updates on OL Shawn Lauvao (ankle) and LB Barkevious Mingo (lung), but he said he would update their status on Wednesday.

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