For quarterback Colt McCoy and the (3-4) Cleveland Browns, the 20-10 loss to the (6-1) San Francisco 49ers makes it is safe to say that the Browns second visit to the Bay Area was not a San Francisco treat as the Browns offense would prove to be a no-show once again.
The Browns once again struggled to get into any form of rhythm early and were thoroughly dominated by a team that—on any given Sunday—can otherwise be beaten. At 3-4, the Browns may still mathematically be in the hunt of an AFC wildcard spot, but in terms of talent—or lack thereof—they are light years away.
And if Sunday’s display of ineptness is any indication, then the Browns and their long-suffering fans are in for a real wake-up call in late November and December.
With the exception of a Week 8 game at Houston, the Browns face two winnable home games against the 1-7 St Louis Rams and 1-7 Jacksonville Jaguars before facing a very challenging gauntlet of games at 4-2 Cincinnati, AFC North heavyweights 6-2 Pittsburgh, 5-2 Baltimore with a road game at the lowly—yet dangerous—1-6 Arizona Cardinals.
There may have been some lofty—and unrealistic—expectations placed on the Browns due to their soft schedule and up-and-coming talent on offense, but the Browns loss shows that they have no talent on offense whatsoever.
Consider that the Browns had a combined 290 yards of offense for the entire game—224 passing and 66 rushing—and only had 17 first downs for the entire game. Despite that, Cleveland had a pretty impressive time of possession, as the Browns had the ball a total of slightly over 27 minutes at 27:10, compared to San Francisco’s 32:50
The Browns also had a real issue in converting third downs by going only 5-of-13. Any offense that averages 4.8 yards per play passing and 2.9 yards rushing is going to have a hard time not only staying on the field but being able to sustain a drive and score points.
Does this all fall on Colt McCoy? Absolutely Not.
Despite being sacked four times by the 49ers, McCoy was still able to complete 22-of-34 passes for 241 yards and average 7.1 yards per attempt.
While those stats may sound respectable, it hard for any quarterback whether it is Andrew Luck, Landry Jones or Matt Barkley come in and do any better behind Cleveland’s horrific offensive line and lack of playmakers.
It is time for Browns fans to face the cold hard facts about Cleveland’s wide receivers—they are the worst in the NFL—as they lead the league in dropped passes with 22.
While wide receiver Joshua Cribbs caught the Browns lone touchdown, the rest of the Cleveland receivers did not help McCoyat all by stepping up in Candlestick.
It is also really sad when a tight end leads your team in receiving yards, as Benjamin Watson would lead all Browns receivers with 64 yards on three receptions.
Some may try to lay this on the hands on McCoy for saying that he is missing wide-open targets or that he isn’t properly identifying hot reads, but giving any quarterback less than .2 seconds to throw to a receiver corps—that clearly has issues with speed and separation—is going to get him seriously injured, and Cleveland can ill afford to keep putting McCoy in that type of danger.
Dropped passes from borderline fringe receivers—such as the ones that Cleveland has—isn’t going to the Browns, but only hurt them.
Mohamed Massaqoui has had two concussions in two years, has shown to be injury-prone, Brian Robiskie is a bust, Greg Little has upside but drops balls—that is sure to remind Browns fans of a certain Michigan-bred, Cleveland-hating ex-receiver—Cribbs is a poor man’s Devin Hester and pre-season media darling, Jordan Norwood is unproven.
The time for making excuses is over in Cleveland.
Some will blame the Browns struggles on the lockout or learning a new offense, if that is the case then look no further than San Francisco—who runs the same offense and also has a rookie head coach in John Harbaugh.
6-1 is still 6-1 regards of what division you play in.
Many in Cleveland have be led to believe that the Browns may already have a #1 receiver in Massaqoui and that they do not need to go into free-agency to sign one, nor bring in a proven vet, that type of thinking and reasoning is why McCoy and the Browns offense looks so inept.
The fans in Cleveland have a right to call out and demand that the Browns go out and be aggressive in the 2012 free-agency when the likes of Vincent Jackson, Mike Wallace and DeSean Jackson will be available, if the Browns do not get a top-notch #1, expect Cleveland to once again struggle in 2012.
The issues at running back of Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty are flat-out embarrassing to say the least as Hillis has shown that his hamstring injury history in Denver is making him injury-prone in Cleveland.
Hillis may not be a victim of the “Madden Curse” but of his own hype instead.
For all he has done in Cleveland, Hillis is not helping himself with the Browns—or with other potential suitors—as he has had only one good year and a bunch of injuries since.
In the case of Hardesty, the Browns knew what they were getting when they drafted him in the second round out of Tennessee—a promising running back with a history of injuries—so they should have not been too surprised when he pulled up with a right calf injury.
In all honesty, Cleveland should add running back to the list of positions—along with offensive line, wide receiver and linebacker—to address in free agency and the 2012 NFL Draft, as both Hillis and Hardesty may prove to be unreliable in the long run.
In the case of rookie head coach, Pat Shurmur, while the Browns may have a lack of talent, there is no excuse for such incompetent play-calling. When a team is supposed to run the West Coast offense—like the Browns are supposed to—you would like to think that they would have the personnel to pull it off.
Cleveland does not have that yet, but the bottom line is that there is no imagination on display.
Why is McCoy not in the shotgun? Or being used in rollouts and bootlegs? If I’m a Browns fan I would like to know what is with all the three and four yard slant plays? The West Coast Offense is predicated on quick passing, timing and yards after catch, but the Browns need to be more aggressive downfield, as they are currently last in the NFL in big plays with 12.
Shurmur stated upon being hired that he will call his own plays and not hire an offensive coordinator—after today’s lackluster performance—Shurmur should seriously reconsider that position or risk hear more boobirds in Cleveland. Browns fans may have some sympathy for a rookie, but a head coach that will not hire an experienced play-caller will find very little in Cleveland.
At 3-4, Cleveland has the 12th worst passing offense, no proven playmakers on offense and a rookie head coach who refuses to seek help in play-calling.
I think it is safe that it is put-up or shut-up time in Cleveland.
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