April 17, 2014

Browns Make Things Interesting Before Falling to Ravens

Your Cleveland Browns were ultimately out-classed today.  Seneca Wallace threw an interception. The Browns bungled the clock at the end of the first half worse than anything anyone could possibly imagine.  Phil Taylor ended it with an inexcusable offsides penalty that Joe Flacco shouldn’t even get credit for.  The Browns got beat on some big plays, but ultimately they didn’t play totally horrendously.  They worked hard to the very end and even got within six points with an opportunity to take the lead. Ultimately Pat Shurmur and the Browns fell short 20-14 on Christmas Eve.

The Browns appeared like the effort was there, but even when they found themselves in decent positions, they were unable to make enough plays.  (Josh Cribbs’ 84-yard punt return TD aside, obviously).  You hate to just say “talent deficit,” but at this point in the season with the injuries and the glaring “misses” on talent judgement and acquisition this off-season it is more apparent than ever.

To be fair, this Browns team has a chance, albeit a small one, with all their players.  I’m not even talking about Colt McCoy, so stop the QB stuff right there.  I’m talking about Ben Watson, Jordan Norwood, Scott Fujita, and T.J. Ward for example.  And don’t forget Peyton Hillis who did his best to convince the world that he is worth signing this offseason.  He finished the game with 112 yards on 24 carries.  Isn’t it amazing how much better the offense looks when he is carrying a load?  But even with those guys on the field the Browns have to play their best game and the Ravens can’t play theirs if the team will have any chance of winning.

Maybe at some point in the future if guys like Buster Skrine, Kaluka Maiava, James Dockery, Carlton Mitchell, and Montario Hardesty and others become starters or more experienced backups the Browns won’t be so dangerously thin year-in and year-out.  Right now I know it takes a leap of faith.  For me too.  But this is what happens when you miss on two out of three second rounders two drafts ago, just for one example.  I don’t mean to pile on Mangini either.  That draft is on Lerner as much as Mangini.

Regardless, the Browns are now 4-11 and nobody should escape criticism.  Pat Shurmur, the players, Tom Heckert, Mike Holmgren and everyone else in the Browns organization have earned a fair allotment.  The Browns played their hand this year and it worked out pretty badly for them and even worse for Browns fans.

They now have all the pieces in place organizationally that they said they wanted when they got rid of Mangini.  By mid-season next year there must be a more encouraging storyline coming out of Berea for Browns fans.  I won’t ever put a time limit on a specific achievement like the playoffs (PLAYOFFS??!?!?,) but they absolutely can’t afford another meaningless stretch of football that outweighs the meaningful games by at least double.

Enjoy your holidays though, people.  We knew all we needed to about the deficiencies of this team before the holiday season was even on the radar.  That can’t happen next year, but this year it should have been to your advantage.  Dialed down expectations and caring less is the only way to guard against this team crushing your spirits.  Sad but true.

Now go have a Christmas Ale or something.

(AP Photo / Gail Burton)

  • Shamrock

    Good teams find ways to win while the Browns find ways to lose.

  • Tim

    @ Craig

    Why avoid talking about the clock management and play call issues? That was a major factor. Not saying you did it intentionally but it was perhaps the major story of the game.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    Even if they only get a FG before half, 20-17 in the 4th quarter is way different than 20-14. Down 3 with 1 timeout, 4:00 to go, and the ball on your own 45, you punt. You hope the defense get the 3 and out, and you get the ball back around midfield, only needing 20-30 yards to get into FG range with about 2:00 to go and no timeouts. Certainly do-able.

    Oh well. Another week, another loss with plenty of self-inflicted wounds to discuss. Merry Christmas, everyone!

  • Wheel

    Does anyone remember a Browns season with so many incidents of bad clock management/poor communication/bad coaching???? Not to pile on Shurmur, but even Mangini was not this bad. I hope Holmgrem takes a good hard look at our head coach and realize he needs help. Shurmur is clearly in over his head.

  • jimkanicki

    i cant help but comment on the coaching brain farts and undisciplined mistakes. 95 penalty yards today. its eerily reminiscent of the crennell era. i dont intend to start a mangini love-in here. but there was some wisdom in the ‘doing laps in practice after mistakes thing.’

    it’s the sort of thing that an experienced high school head coach knows how to correct because experienced high school coaches know how to run practices and training camps.

    it really begs the question of how someone with no previous head coaching experience can be hired for his first ever head coach gig at the nfl level. i really dont like this learn on the job business for my team.

  • http://Www.redright88.com Titus Pullo

    @jimkanicki

    Where were Mike Tomlin, Marvin Lewis and whichever Harbaugh is in Baltimore ever head coaches before they took over?

  • jimkanicki

    i assume this is a rhetorical and you already know that they werent head coaches. ..

    but of course tomlin inherited a solid system, lewis kinda proves the point, and harbaugh is a miamio alumnus which imbues him with supernatural coaching ability.

  • Shamrock

    @Titus good point the real problem as I see it especially with the Browns is that all they do is hire head coaches with no previous head coaching experience. Tomlin and Harbaugh both came into winning organizations. Lewis not so much but look at what he’s doing with a rookie QB at the helm and a cast off RB in Benson. Meanwhile in Cleveland it’s the same old broken record.

  • humboldt

    Can we please re-sign Hillis to wipe one major need off of the list for next year? The guy is legitimate and I’d love to have him running the ball in meaningful games.

    A backfield featuring his skillset with Robert Griffith III’s looks pretty formidable.

  • Tim

    @9 I agree, bringing Hillis back would eliminate the need for a #1 running back, and if Brandon Jackson or Hardesty is healthy, we might not need any running backs. Then we could focus on the many other holes on our roster in the draft and free agency.

  • LittleWahoo

    Maybe we Draft 5th? I am watching and rooting for draft position this time of year. Maybe an article about draft position outcomes from diferent scenarios going in to Pukesburg. Hoping for loss and I hope at least one starter is knocked out for the playoffs for the unapologetic violence to Colt.

  • Shamrock

    They still need another legitimate RB even if Hillis comes back and I doubt he does but you never know.

  • Tim

    We didn’t even get to see Brandon Jackson this year, and most people were excited about him as a 3rd down back or even a more expanded role than that. If Hillis comes back (I agree it seems unlikely at this point), I think we could at least cross Trent Richardson off the board and use the first pick for another position.

  • Shamrock

    @Tim yea I’m not for Richardson @ the first pick I’ve said I like Monty Ball out of Wisconsin. I agree that first pick needs to be a homerun at whatever position.

  • Gbwoy

    I know draft position is important and I want to get the best player possible, but I always, ALWAYS want to beat Pittsburgh.

    I doubt it will happen, but I just can’t root for a loss in that one. Even when it’s probably in the teams best long term interests.

  • Tim

    @Shamrock- Yeah I like Ball too, especially if he somehow fell to the third round.
    @Gbwoy- I want to beat Pittsburgh too; I don’t care about draft position as much as beating them. I hope I never wish for us to lose to Baltimore, Cincinnati, or Pittsburgh.

  • http://serandez.blogspot.com Ezzie

    This is sad, but the best thing I could think of from this game was that I can probably make decent money on my tickets next Sunday from Steelers fans.

  • Alec115

    @Ezzie please, as a season ticket holder, I’m begging you do not sell those tickets to steelers fans. Having to hear “here we go ravens” chants at the last home game was sickening enough.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    @jimkanicki obviously the penalties were too much today, but I am still complaining about the prayer play Baltimore received against Mike Adams. There was contact, but come on. Adams did turn around and ended up getting his hands on the ball that was horribly tossed up there.

    I despise how soft the NFL has become with the pass interference. I kind of get the QB protection because people get hurt, but the pass interference is nothing more than sensitivity to drive up scoring via cheap plays. Add in the fact that Ed Reed, Polamalu and Revis get away with FAR more than other defensive backs and it really infuriates me.

  • Chris

    Hmm. I had Christmas stuff going on today, so I only got to watch the second quarter. I’m impressed we kept it that close. Even if it did take a special teams touchdown to do it.

    Too bad we gift-wrapped them an extension of their drive in the 4th with that offsides penalty on 4th and 2.

  • Paulo

    THIS DRAFT IS GOING TO BE MEMORABLE. THE RAMS ARE GOING TO GET NUMBER ONE ARE THEY GOING TO TRADE IT OT TRADE BRADFORD?? PLEASE ADMINISTRATOR, CREATE A POST ON THIS ISSUE: DO THE BROWNS SHOULD TRADE FOR THE NUMBER ONE PICK AND SELECT LUSCK OR PROPOSE A TRADE TO OBTAIN BRADFORD??

  • tsm

    Pluto today had an excellent article about the draft. If we don’t think a franchise qb is available, we should use our picks to build an excelent defense. I would like DE, LB and OL in any order to keep building the foundation. We can get a top WR in free agency and then sign Hillis. If Colt is not the man next year, we can trade up for Barkley if we need to. I agree we need an elite qb to go all the way, but we also need an elite defense. Not sold on Colt, but other than Luck, not sold on any college QB.

  • Joe

    Best article I have read recapping yet another loss engineered by a befuddled & clueless Shurmur. On the plus side, the cameras did catch a proud Walrus grooming himself up in his luxury suite – damn – I guess he does not have to worry about the media trying to get extra playoff (PLAYOFFS??!!) tix from him for another year…

    Merry Christmas & happy holidays to whoever reads this~~~

  • batman

    theres to things to be said about the browns growing pains.
    this is the start of something big two more picks ol & wide out
    first round second round ol & wide out lol nothing less

  • Big Z

    I’ve never seen a head coach bungle a game as badly as this in my entire life. Calling a pass play on 3rd and 1 (leading to Wallace’s interception) in the 1st quarter when you’re in 4 down territory; UNIMAGINABLE clock mismanagement at the half; calling a pass to the flat BEHIND THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE on 4th and 5 in the 4th quarter; all of this should be ammunition for Holmgren to use when he’s showing Shurmur the door at the end of this year. Any respectable team president would not stand for this nonsense game after game, regardless of the amount of experience your HC has. I’m pretty sure Holmgren’s just here to soak up a paycheck then ridicule the franchise on his way out.