Thoughts of a Wandering Mind
Watching the first five minutes of the Browns game against the New York Giants, my initial thoughts were this could be interesting, as the Browns jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead.
The Browns ran the ball with authority in the early goings of the game. Rookie running back Trent Richardson looked like a beast against a tough Giants defensive front-seven
Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden was calm, cool and accurate early. The highlight was a perfectly thrown 62-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Josh Gordon.
The Browns offensive line was firing on Giants defensive linemen. I thought it was late in the 2009 season all over again when the Browns would simply run the ball down the throats of the opposition.
And the opposition knew it was coming and couldn't stop it.
Then reality hit.
The Giants, mixing the pass and run drove the ball down-field, assisted by Browns penalties. The Giants put seven on the board, but the Browns didn't crawl into their shell just yet.
Once again behind Weeden and Richardson, the Browns moved the ball and kicked a field goal to stake a 17-7 lead over the defending Super Bowl Champions.
But as has come to be the norm for the Cleveland Browns offense on game-day, the unexpected occurred.
Or is that the predictably expected?
Imagine the Browns have the ball, the running game has successfully put the play-caller in the position of a third-and-one situation. A big play for sure in this game and for the Browns in general.
Wait, they don't run the ball on third-and-one after the recent success, it's a pass.........and it's intercepted.
Yep, an interception on a poor decision by the rookie QB.
But, why was the pass dialed-up in the first place?
Maybe it was head coach Pat Shurmur seeking to break a string of predictable play-calling. Maybe it was a confusing moment for the head coach. Maybe after successful rushing plays, the head coach figured he would fool the New York Giants.
All Shurmur did was fool himself, he at the least over-thought the play.
The more Shurmur attempts to show the urgency related to an now 0-5 team, the more confusing the decisions coming from the sideline are.
This Browns team lacks offensive balance. Good team achieve a reasonable. Poor teams generally lack sufficient execution in one of the facets and rely heavily on the other.
In the case of the Browns, I don't see the reasoning behind the abandonment of the run.
Richardson was effective early, only to simply be pushed into the background of the Browns offensive scheme on game-day. The talk of wanting to get the ball into his hands must be driven to fool the opposition or something, as the talk never finds it's way to the playing field on game-day.
The Browns are quick to put out a press release noting QB Brandon Weeden is second on the all-time rookie list of pass yardage through five games of a rookie season.
Does it really matter? The Browns are 0-5 and have had opportunities to not only be in games to the end, but in a position to win.
In watching Weeden throwing for over 1,200 yards tells me the Browns are far too reliant on a rookie QB with marginal receivers, in that his rookie season.
While, they select a running back with the third overall pick in the draft that asks for the ball, only to be removed often on third down.
Despite showing he has the tools to be a legitimate threat in the receiving game, and a facet again the Browns noted they would like to change.
I do believe the baptism by fire has improved the play and development of Weeden. I also believe the skewed lack of balance in the pass to run ratio has hurt the develop of the Browns offense – or should I say has had a negative impact in what is the most important issue.......winning.
Teams defense the Browns to make them beat them through the air. On Sunday in New York, the Giants were grateful the Browns head coach decided to abandon the run, as Richardson had that look of excellence brewing early.
By the end of the game, Richardson had a look of disgust and dejection.
Just another day in the office for the rookie running back which isn't accustomed to limited activity and losing.
And of course it didn't help that the Browns defense took the day off.
That's another issue with this Browns team we dig into on Monday.