In summary, when the Browns can be more consistent with good plays, we are going to see a different kind of team.
By GREG PRUITT
Guest Call & Post Sports Reporter
Hello Browns Fans!
I watched the game Sunday and the Browns got off to a great start but, for whatever reason, they stalled offensively only scoring 13 points in the first half. The Browns blew some opportunities to get more points by missing open receivers, receivers dropping passes, and special teams nullifying great returns with silly penalties. In other words, after a bye week, the only thing it seemed to do for the Browns was get them off to a great start, but they still can’t close the deal!
Very disappointing officiating. Critical calls that, in my opinion, helped Dallas get back in the game, and eventually win the game: The last drive by Dallas was aided by bad calls from the refs. I played football a lot of years, and even I’m confused about what a completion is and what’s not a completion, what is control of the ball and what’s not control of the ball, what is a flagrant hit and what’s not a flagrant hit – I thought it had to be helmet-to-helmet to be considered a flagrant hit. I complained for five weeks about the offensive line jumping offsides and killing drives, and then watched a Dallas offensive lineman jump off-sides – so obvious to everyone except the refs – a critical NON-call. In Sunday’s game, when the Browns defensive back caused the Dallas receiver to fumble, it was ruled he did not have control of the ball after taking more than three steps! Huge play in the game. Dallas went on to get a touchdown in that drive. When the Browns scored, late in the game, to go ahead by three points, the Dallas drive was aided by an unnecessary roughness call. Clearly, it was a shoulder into the receiver’s chest that, in my day, was considered a great hit. It almost seemed like the Dallas receivers started to pretend that they were hurt from the contact by the defense to influence the refs to make calls.
Quarterback: Weeden had 20/35 for 210 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, but one fumble. Weeden had early success and looked good early in the game. But, then he began to look very average, missing open receivers, holding on to the ball too long, not putting the ball in play and not giving his receivers a chance at catching the ball (I’m talking about in the end zone on fourth down and goal, when he needed to keep it in the end zone to give the receiver a chance to catch the ball, or even get a pass interference call – huge mistake). I sensed confusion, and maybe the confusion is not from the defenses he’s facing but all of the coaches he may hearing. He needs one voice. And he also needs one go-to guy, similar to Romo and tight end Weeden for Dallas.
I’m beginning to think that Weeden, being as old as he is, as a rookie needs to show more progress at a faster rate than he is showing, because he comes into the game at such a late time. You can give a younger player more time to progress, but Weeden is not in that same timeframe. He needs to have a better second half of the season or management might decide to go in a different direction, even though they drafted quarterbacks as high picks in the last two drafts.
Running back: Trent Richardson had 28 rushes for 95 yards, nine yards was the longest, and he had six receptions for 49 yards, his longest was 27 yards. Trent didn’t have the same kind of game he had the previous weeks. Trent is a power runner, but Sunday he tried to be an elusive runner, and that is just not his style. He made some bad choices running the football. If it’s third and short, then you need to make sure you get those yards, then try to make a big play out of it rather than trying to get the big play. I noticed he got winded, took himself out of the game and the Browns punted the ball. There is a difference with him being in the game and out of the game. The biggest mistake he made was on the goal line. There was a right side off-tackle play with the fullback leading. He turned left instead of running behind the fullback and tried jumping over the top. And that’s not his style either. He has no power once his feet leave the ground. There were wasted blocks off-tackle, where the original hole was designed to be – those things happen – but backs get better by making mistakes, seeing them on film, and then correcting them.
Wide receivers: Overall, they played well. Although one of my concerns is, on replays, Weeden was holding the ball too long, and receivers were quitting on their routes. That you can’t have. On passing plays, you work to get open until the play is dead, both wide receivers and tight ends. However, I did see some catches made, despite the ball not being thrown perfectly. It is encouraging to see the receivers using their hands to catch the football and not their bodies.
Offensive line: Dominated the line of scrimmage in the first half, not so well in the third quarter and most of the fourth, but played well enough for us to win the game. There were not a lot of self-inflicted penalties (offsides, illegal procedures, holding calls).
Defensive backs: With Haden not playing Sunday, we really struggled at the defensive back position. Romo really took advantage of the one-on-one coverage by Buster Skrine, the defensive back. It was obvious that he gave Dez Bryant, their best receiver, too much respect. He played deeper than five yards and then put his hands on Bryant which was an automatic penalty. Ten first downs by penalties were given to the Cowboys. As a result, Dez Bryant had 12 receptions for 145 yards and one touchdown. There were over ten pass interference calls. I really believe that if Haden had been playing, the Browns would have had a better chance. The Browns didn’t have an answer to the hurry up offense, quick passes and loose playing by Skrine.
Special teams: Not a good day for them, in terms of kick returns, holding, and blocks in the back, but they did recover an onside kick by Dallas (that was big), and Dawson’s kickoffs were deep enough not to allow Dallas to return the ball – that was big! Overall, special teams didn’t hurt us on Sunday.
Coaching: You know, I realize that coaches can only call the plays, and they don’t have the opportunity to execute the plays. While my logic is different than the coaches in some situations, and I don’t always agree with the plays that are called in a particular situation, it’s gotten a little better. But we have to have good execution and good play calling at the same time (a well executed play is called a touchdown).
In summary, when the Browns can be more consistent with good plays, we are going to see a different kind of team. The Browns have got to learn how to close the deal. They have had a chance to win every game, but they haven’t been able to seal the deal except for two games.
I know you are frustrated. So am I, but we have come this far and we can’t turn back now.