The Cleveland Browns offense passed the eye test today. That is something that we haven’t been able to say about this team this year. The team was going up against a depleted Jaguars defense that got even more banged up during the game, so save the punch and pie for now. They didn’t blow the roof off the stadium with scoring either. Still, they moved the ball. They spread it around to guys like Josh Cribbs, Jordan Norwood, Greg Little and Mohamed Massaquoi. The offensive line protected Colt McCoy pretty well and opened enough holes for 4th string runner Chris Ogbonnaya to go for 115 yards and a TD. It is exactly what the Browns needed at this time of the year with the schedule coming up.
A lot of people were angry that the Browns won today because of the impact on the NFL draft. I understand that line of thinking, but it isn’t very useful from a pragmatic standpoint while running a professional football team. You make your plays in the draft by accumulating picks, not by losing intentionally. Every time you put your team out on the field you have to try to win. Anyone who expects the Browns to field a team week-in and week-out without attempting to win has no respect for the players as competitors and professional athletes. While it might seem like sound strategy, a team can’t tank on purpose without also impossibly hurting their culture long-term and possibly irreparably. Back to the Browns win though.
The Cleveland Browns survived some questionable officiating and some scary Blaine Gabbert passes into the end zone to win number four on the year. It wasn’t easy. Phil Dawson missed a field goal that would have put the team up a full touchdown. The call on the field was that it was no good, but Phil Dawson begged to differ on the ball that floated somewhere above the upright. According to the referee, the play couldn’t be challenged because the ball was above the upright as opposed to being low enough to have gone through the uprights. I can’t say for sure that it was good or missed based on the video replay, but it was close. You just have to count on the official standing right underneath to make the call. Dawson’s field goal attempt wasn’t the only close call.
The Jags were driving for the game-winning touchdown. On 3rd and 10 from the Browns 29 yard line, Joe Haden was whistled for interference, but it sure looked like a combination of jostling for both he and receiver who was also pushing off. It was an automatic first down and set up some crazy breath-holding plays to end the game.
Once Browns fans started breathing again, D’Qwell Jackson was slapping hands with fans around the stadium and Colt McCoy was running in to congratulate his defense for holding up.
We will have a lot more on this game as the week unfolds, but it was full of some good signs, finally. You can’t draw big decisive conclusions from good games any more than you can from the bad ones. The Browns still need to play offense consistently before anyone should feel great about the future.
Even with that being said, it is nice to see Colt McCoy run a TD drive after throwing an ill-advised interception. It was nice to see Pat Shurmur put Colt McCoy in the shotgun and also throw the ball rather than just sitting on a 14 point lead. It was nice to see an offensive line work together to keep their quarterback upright while that QB also exploited the defense on runs when he needed to escape. Finally it is a luxury to see that offensive line enable a Browns running back to go for over 100 yards regardless of how banged up the opposing defense was.
You have to walk before you can run and you have to crawl before you can walk. Considering all the crawling we’ve seen so far this season today was a very welcome light jog.
(Photo – The Official Cleveland Browns on Facebook)