Browns lose very winnable game to Colts 17-13

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Jimmy Haslam shows how he feels about the decision to punt in the 4th quarter

If Pat Shurmur thought he was embroiled when the team was 0-5 he ain’t seen nothing yet. Pat Shurmur will be able to say things to defend himself, but the second-guessing is just too obvious on this day to be baseless. Yes, Shurmur called what should have been a go-ahead TD pass to Josh Gordon on 3rd and 1 in the fourth quarter with over six minutes remaining in the game. The Browns went to the line to go for it on fourth down and one from near the Colts 40-yard-line, ran out of time, had to call timeout and returned to the field… in punt formation. The TV coverage showed Jimmy Haslam and I’m just guessing because I am not a body language expert, but he didn’t look very happy with his coach’s decision.

Shurmur might even argue that it didn’t matter because the Browns got the ball back, but again, he’s wrong. Shurmur will say it isn’t his fault that Reggie Hodges only punted the ball only about 20 yards from the Colts 40 to the Colts 20. Technically he’s right. You always expect your punter to do better than that. Still, when given a chance on your opponent’s side of the field with a fourth and one and a chance to go ahead in the fourth quarter, punting is just abysmally depressing to fans and presumably his team and owner. 

Haslam’s reaction to the dropped TD pass in the 4th quarter

Most of today’s tilt between the Browns and Colts was like a really boring tennis match. Both teams were moving the ball and the defenses were content to not give up too many big plays. The clock rolled off pretty quickly it seemed as both squads seemed to want to wait for someone to “hit it into the net.” Eight yards and a pile of yawns was what seemed to transpire most of the game.

It was one of those games where it felt like the Browns had been dominated in the first half. Even that being said, they trailed only 14-6 with the promise of the ball first in the second half. The defense seemed to bend-not-break to its own death in the first half. The Colts were great on third down, or the Browns couldn’t get off the field. Probably a lot of both.

It was another game where Trent Richardson was unable to help his team due to injury. That’s alright. He gave it a go. What wasn’t alright was the Browns lack of running attack against one of the league’s worst rushing defenses. Montario Hardesty ended the game with seven carries and the Browns as a team rushed for 17 including one scramble by Weeden. The Colts on the other hand, without number one back Donald Brown, rushed for 148 yards on 37 carries. That’s how you help a rookie QB and an overall young team develop.

Jimmy Haslam seemingly dissatisfied

In the end, Browns fans must feel ashamed that they got fooled into placing expectations on their team after one week and a win. This was a winnable game and the team came out flat. The defense generally played uninspired and even with some questionable refereeing working against the Browns they had a great opportunity to win the game against another team in transition. A combination of poor execution and questionable coaching decisions sunk them in the end.

I’ve said a number of things generically about NFL head coaches. I’ve said it almost never makes sense to replace one in the middle of a season. I’ve said that, generically speaking, any coach should get to see his third season because that is when he’ll be likely to hit his ceiling as a game runner. Judging by Haslam’s body language, Shurmur might not get a chance to show his ceiling if he and Joe Banner determine it’s just too low to bother with the continuity Banner said he covets.

  • CLE

    Well I feel like Weeden does his job 90% of the time… now if we can get some freaking run blocking and a great catch, we’re on our way…

  • Vindictive_Pat

    That game was on Shurmur. You beat Cincinnati, a decent defense, by 10 and then you can’t even muster enough offense to put up more than 13 points on the sad defense of the Indianapolis Colts? Shameful. I don’t care that Josh Gordon dropped the go-ahead TD… when you get a great performance out of your QB and an acceptable performance from your RB (Hardesty, not Richardson), then you need to put up more than 13 points. Seeing us have to throw the ball away on 3rd down and 7 when there was plenty of time to throw simply because you called a screen pass and it was blown up… that ticks me off. Let’s all wave goodbye to Shurmur and the West Coast Offense. They’re gone after this season.

  • Jamindunn

    2 possessions in colts territory in the 4th qtr: the first with over 4 minutes left, and Shurmur was calling the game like he had less than a minute left. Why didn’t he just control the ball and get a couple first downs? The Gordon call worked, but even then, you just needed a first down there. I will now be sick to my stomach all day.

  • Ron

    Teams take on the personality of the Head Coach……period….boring and uninspired

  • Harv 21

    ok, for my own mental health want to list some positives. I know these are not the game takeaways but these are for me on a sucky late Sunday afternoon, not for you:

    – Weeden is developing nicely, very nicely. Still isn’t close to looking off d-backs but he has the arm and heart and maybe the head to do this thing right. He has the talent to be able to win our division one day.

    – The receivers – all of them – are improving quickly now. If we assume Gordon was affected by the sun on the big drop, he really looks like the game-breaking deep guy we’ve been missing, really, since Ozzie was a youngster. Little has gone 2 games with no drops and the TD was sensational (don’t claim he didn’t have to bat it first, it was out of reach and he kept it alive).

    Trying to avoid the defense discussion, but if you can’t stop the run, and won’t try to confuse a rookie QB at all, where are you? Where are your efforts devoted and what exactly are you doing? And the 4th quarter coaching decisions, and the special teams … Ugh, can’t do this now, will save for tomorrow when anger has dissipated some.

  • C_CLE

    I feel like I’ve watched this same decision, time and time again, for the last decade. When you’re record is what it is, and you’re in opposing territory with less than 5 minutes on the clock and you need a yard, I don’t know how it’s possible to punt the football. I just don’t. This wasn’t week 16 with a playoff spot on the line. There’s no risk! You don’t get it, you might lose. You punt it, you might lose. But if you actually get 1 mf’n yard you might win! I don’t care that the running game was a pile of garbage all day. You’re a 1-win football team. What is the harm here? Plus, even if you do get the ball back (which they did; credit the defense for doing something right), there’s no guarantee you’re getting back into opponent territory again. This is the closest you might get for the rest of the game. You have to sack up and give it a shot.

  • boomhauertjs

    In my Browns/Colts Reader Survey, in the comments I said “I bet the Browns come out flat.” So typical of the Shurmur era.

  • James Workman

    Congrats for really going out on a limb there.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    C’mon where are all the Shurmur supporters…but welcome to the party Jimmy now you can officially suffer along with everyone else!

  • Kenny_Chill

    I got crushed last week for saying Shurmur was going to go back to his losing ways. To everyone that defended Shurmur, all I have to say is scoreboard. He still sucks and needs to go.

    I’m still predicting 2-14. We may not suck enough to get the first pick, though. Oakland and Kansas City are both dreadful.

  • Josh Stein

    Oakland’s in OT against Jacksonville, and they get the Chiefs twice…schedule might make them 4-12 even with a horrible team (I wonder where I’ve seen that before)…

  • Vindictive_Pat

    We play both of those teams this year too. Our “tough” schedule is setting up to be a lollypop schedule, and our team has 1 freaking win in 7 games. At this point, I really don’t care when Shurmur goes. If Jimmy wants to go with an interim head coach (Chilly I guess), then I’m all for it.

  • Warburton MacKinnon

    Shurmer has a ceiling…who knew.

  • Warburton MacKinnon

    who else are we gonna beat to get that second W?

  • Warburton MacKinnon

    You still give way to much credit to Weedon, he looked great sometimes and lucked out the Colts DBs can’t catch at leat 3 times, even the announcers mentioned this when it happened.

  • Roosevelt

    I feel better now that no matter how bad I feel, there’s a billionaire who feels worse. Schadenfreude….

  • cmm13

    Here is where I hang this loss on Shurmur and….wait for it …….Weeden.


    Epic fail on Shurmur.

    Then here’s the part where I get the down votes for hanging Weeden out to dry. The next possession we are driving. Driving is good in the NFL. Driving is what NFL teams do. Brandon doesn’t like driving though, he prefers the home run ball any chance he can get. I don’t recall the down and distance but I do recall two receivers running free across the middle open for gains of at least 10 yards….10 yards that would continue the drive. Weeden looks away and goes for Gordon 45 yards down the sideline for Gordon who is blanketed and out of room. Incompletion. Drive killed.

    From then on he proceeded to look for the home run ball instead of taking what the defense was giving him. This is not to say Weeden is no good, this is to stay that he’s still playing in the Big 12 in his head. This could be fixed easily and I believe it will as long as a head coach capable of this development is found

  • Mr. T

    Hear the Murmur from Pat Shurmur, I Suck as Head Coach. Period.

  • Harv 21

    same thing happened to Luck. Robertson dropped one, a safety with better instincts than Ward would have had another. Luck lost pocket awareness when Brown caused the fumble. Six weeks ago Weeden couldn’t handle pocket pressure and was fumbling weekly; that’s all gone now. Luck has advanced skills that Weeden currently lacks but they performed about the same today, and yes, I’m real happy about that.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Your point would come across better if you knew how to spell our QB’s last name.

  • Leo C

    It seems to me every coach the Browns have had always plays it safe and coaches not to lose the game. They are so terrified to have any mistakes occur they just opt for the easy out position. Shurmur is the king of all this. He is always defending decisions that really shouldnt be defended. If Shurmur goes for it and is aggressive on 3rd or 4th and short at least us fans can say ‘well we tried, but didnt execute’. We were 1-5 heading into that game. What else do we have to lose? Why isnt this team every aggressive in any game until its too late? Why do they always fall behind in every game and force a rookie qb to rally them back in improbable ways? Its the same story and will continue to be the same until changes are made at the coaching level. Teams always play better and rally for short period when coaching change occurs. Whatever players say to media, Shurmur doesnt pump them up or get them ready to attack opponent. We need to make a change or its gonna be the same thing again.

  • Big Z

    96 passer rating – best of his career. He played a great game, and if Josh Gordon catches that “home run ball” in the end zone, the Browns win…

  • Big Z

    Agreed. The promise I see in Weeden, Gordon, and Cooper is keeping me chill. We all know Shurmur’s a dead man walking, so there’s no use losing sleep over him.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    Yep. I can’t get too mad at Gordon. Sounds like he lost it in the sun, and he hasn’t made a habit out of dropping the ball to this point. If you can’t score more then 13 points against that defense, you have bigger problems.

  • Big Z

    96 = 2nd best passer rating. Still, an impressive gme.

  • cmm13

    25 of 41 is a good game. Far from great.

    And you can play the “if he” game the other way as well. If the DB’s don’t drop the balls that hit them in the hands Weeden has two INT’s on the day that negate a TD.

    Like I said I am not throwing Weeden out of the league, I am just pointing out he still has a ways to go before we definitely say the QB search is over.

  • SDA

    Total Epic Fail I called it when we didn’t go for the 2pt conversion after the 2nd touchdown, At that point in the game it was a no-brainier and Shurmur failed. He’s in way over his head

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Not going for it on 4th down and 1 late in the game in Colts territory is more than depressing. It is simply the wrong call. That call shows me that Shurmur is willing to play it so safe that he is willing to put conservative play calling ahead of statistical advantage…that ain’t good.

    Really, 4th and 1 from your opponent’s 40 is almost always a “go for it” situation, because a field goal is unlikely and a punt can easily result in a net field position change of only 20 yards with a touchback.

    Overall, the biggest thing that concerns me about this sequence of events is that Shurmur wasn’t even prepared to make the lame call as it happened. He needed to take a timeout first…then punt. This type of thing happens to Shurmur frequently. He’s never ready to make an offensive call in a 4th and short situation. Losing that timeout for no good reason was critical.

    You know how you know your coaching staff is the problem? Your offense turns the ball over 0 times, and you still only manage to score 13 points.

  • SDA

    watching Pittsburgh/cinci they are going for a 2 pt conversion no questions

  • SDA

    and they get it to tie the game. Wow what i wouldn’t give to have that type of coaching

  • C-Bus Kevin

    I’m watching the Steelers go for 2 after a touchdown put them down two at 14-12.

    And…they got it. 14-14. Huge momentum shift for the Steelers. It’s great when you can compare coaching decisions in a true “apples to apples” scenario.

  • SDA

    hehe look at the comment just before yours

  • Jaker

    Play calling: upsetting
    Run blocking: extremely disappointing
    Defense: incomplete

    QB play: much better every game. I have been talking myself in and out of Weeden, but with no turnovers today and throwing great balls MOST of the time, I’m set with him being “the guy” for the future. Face it, if Gordon makes the catch, Weeden’s final line is 300 yards, 3 TDs ZERO turnovers ZERO sacks with a decent completion percentage. Haven’t seen that in a LONG time from our QB.

    Jimmy Truck Stop and Banner won’t waste any time letting Shurmur finish out the season. if they know he won’t be their coach for the future, why let him finish the season? Move on and give someone else a chance to prove their worth. The future starts now, I just hope we don’t wait to make moves. Also wouldn’t be surprised if a trade happens, Watson, McCoy and Massaquoi would all be targets for other teams that could net draft picks, even if thy are used to move up in the draft or for midrounders

  • Mr G

    With a better coach, this team is at least 3-4 if not 4-3. The play calling makes no sense. RUN THE DANG BALL. The Baltimore game is the teller for me. An aging defense playing their 4th game in 18 days in a driving rain. We should have run it at least 30 times, not 13.

  • saggy

    i hated him, but Butch Davis played to win.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    My thoughts exactly. This isn’t just a situational call. This is basically an “all the time” call. There are a few situations where punting is the right call there, but not many. Certainly not when you are down 4 with 5 minutes to go…

  • BenRM

    This game seemed to epitomize the “good teams do the little things needed to win” manta. You pointed a lot of them out, Gordon’s drop, the bad punt, the mishandled PAT…

    The only thing I’ll get on Shurmur about is the decision to punt. 4 and 1 around their 40 is almost always go for it territory, isn’t it? It didn’t matter b/c they got the ball back and couldn’t finish, but still.

  • Natedawg86

    I didn’t think we got dominated the first half. Both teams nearly took all of the first half time off the clock with 2 drives each. That took 26 minutes off the clock, so no we did not get dominated in the first half.
    I still don’t understand why we didn’t go for it on fourth and 1. Mind boggling.

  • Natedawg86

    Lets let Colt McCoy be the coach…haha

  • Natedawg86

    I thought for sure they were going to run a fake punt. I was thinking, they know you are going to fake it why not just run a play. I was stunned when we punted…

  • BenRM

    While I don’t disagree he has more developing to do, he’s the best we’ve had since Derek “I play 6 good games” Anderson.

  • Natedawg86

    They did come out and score a TD on their first drive. How many times does that happen?

  • cmm13

    I agree with this statement.

  • Big Z

    Maybe if you just look at the stats, you don’t see great, but if you look at how he played from behind the whole game without the help of any ground attack while throwing to nothing but rookie / undrafted receivers you can see how it was a great performance. He looked every bit as good as the #1 overall pick (minus the scrambling) and had them in position to win that game on the road. Weeden’s performance was the least of the Browns’ problems yesterday.

  • kbones

    They gave the stat, something like the first time in 31 drives in the first quarter, sickening

  • Otis Ross

    i am glad mr.haslam is mad we are also mad let him act more like jerry jones of dallas and fire the coaches now not wait till seasons end we have waited for a owner like this for years dont disappoint us fans we have put us with a owner and front office who have taken us for granted to long please act like jerry jones of dallas.