Well it wasn’t pretty – at all – but like we’ve said all season long, a win is a win.
Once again the Browns offense looked downright awful. Not only is Pat Shurmur starting to look like he’s in over his head, but Colt McCoy seems to be slowly drowning as well. He already puts a ton of pressure on himself, and his play so far this season is only intensifying that pressure. The media is starting to question McCoy’s ability, as are the fans. So far Shurmur has stood behind the second-year pro, but Mike Holmgren didn’t exactly do much for McCoy’s confidence with his comments to the media on Saturday.
Us Browns fans do have something to be excited about each Sunday. While most fans in the NFL can expect their teams to put together four, sometimes five, touchdown performances, Browns fans have the luxury of watching their offense score, well, 6 points in four quarters of football. The Defense, on the other hand, is another story.
Cleveland’s offense on Sunday was pathetic and can be summed-up in one word: nauseating. However, you’d be hard pressed to find enough words to describe the Browns defense. Tough, consistent, fundamental, opportunistic, fast – all words that come to mind when I think about Cleveland’s 3rd ranked defense. The scary part of it is that this team is really - really – young.
Of the 11 starters on defense, four are in their first or second year, and eight of the players listed on Cleveland’s depth chart have been in the league less than five years. Hopefully Holmgren and Heckert address the offense during next year’s draft, but if they can find some quality depth in the back end of the draft for this defense, the Browns could have a dominating defense worth mentioning in the same breath as Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
Now that I’ve had time to recover from Cleveland’s pathetic play on offense, here are my final thoughts on the Browns 6-3 victory over the dismal Seattle Seahawks.
The season has gone from bad to worse for McCoy, who’s only in his first full season as the Browns starting QB. We knew there would be some growing pains with McCoy, but this is getting embarrassing. McCoy admittedly puts a lot of pressure on himself, and I’m sure Mike Holmgren’s comments just before the game on Sunday didn’t do anything to boost McCoy’s confidence.
McCoy was awful against a Seahawks secondary that was ranked 19th in the NFL against the pass prior to this game. The Browns aren’t going to win a lot of games with McCoy throwing for 178 yards and 1 interception. Granted, McCoy isn’t getting much help from any of the Browns skilled-position players, but a lot of that has to do with Pat Shurmur’s play-calling.
Nothing is guaranteed for McCoy beyond this season, and if the young gun from Texas doesn’t find a way to put it together, his days in Cleveland may be numbered. It’d be a shame to see the reigns handed over to someone else, especially knowing how hard McCoy has worked for this. He wasn’t really dealt a great hand, but this is the NFL – nothing is fair.
Please – PLEASE – Address the Wide Receiver Position Soon!
Cleveland’s leading receiver on Sunday wasn’t Mohammed Massaquoi, or Greg Little. It certainly wasn’t Brian Robiskie, and Ben Watson was forced out of the game (as well as Massaquoi) with a concussion. Peyton Hillis didn’t play, and we all know that Montario Hardesty can’t catch a cold. No, our leading receiver against Seattle, was a guy who was on another team’s practice squad a little over a week ago, and who’s name is damn near impossible to spell, let alone pronounce. The Browns leading receiver was newly-signed running back Chris Ogbonnaya, who finished with 3 catches for 45 yards.
While it’s encouraging that the front office seems to have found a productive back behind Hillis and Hardesty, but they need a productive receiver even worse. Little, Cribbs, and Massaquoi have shown promise this season, but they’ve yet to put anything consistent together to help this offense. If the front office is so convinced that the talent is there, then they need to reevaluate the play-calling – which has been horrible at best.
Hopefully Hardesty Gets It Together
It wasn’t a surprise when Peyton Hillis didn’t play against Seattle because of a hamstring injury. It was surprising, however, that Montario Hardesty was able to have the success that he did against Seattle’s tough run defense.
Before the game, it was assumed that the Browns would have to throw the ball to have any chance on offense. If Hillis was out, it was assumed that running the ball was out of the question against Seattle’s 4th ranked run defense. That wasn’t the case.
Hardesty ran hard, and made the most of his 33 carries, rushing for 95 yards and no touchdowns. For once, Shurmur featured the run game, and did so against a team one wouldn’t expect. If Hardesty can find his hands to help-out the passing game, he could provide a solid “handcuff” for Hillis – if he can ever get his crap together as well.
Joe Haden Is A Difference Maker
Cleveland’s star corner, Joe Haden, missed last week’s game against the Oakland Raiders. In that game, Darrius Heyward-Bey caught 6 passes for 82 yards.
Sidney Rice was the leading receiver for the Seahawks on Sunday, and he finished the game with 2 catches for 38 yards, 38 of which came on one play. Haden played that game, by the way.
It’s not just that Haden is becoming a lock-down corner, he’s becoming one of the best overall corners in all the NFL. He’s tough as nails, and isn’t afraid to smack a back out of the backfield to help out the run game. Haden tied for second on the team in tackles on Sunday, finishing with 5 tackles (4 solo), 1 TFL, and an all important pass deflection on Seattle’s last gasp for air in the 4th Qtr.
Cleveland Browns: 3rd Ranked Defense in NFL
We knew there was talent on the Browns defense, Haden, T.J. Ward, and Ahtyba Rubin emerged as potential stars last season, but Heckert has put together one of the more dominating defenses in the NFL so far.
Haden, Ward, and Rubin have been key contributors on this year’s difference as well, but the Browns are getting production from everyone one defense. Rookies Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard have been monsters on the d-line, and Jayme Mitchell obviously should have been playing last season instead of riding the bench. Sheldon Brown has been average, but Dimitri Patterson and Buster Skrine, another rookie, have played well when called upon.
There’s still depth concerns at the linebacker position, but production from that position has been solid as well. We’ve learned that a healthy D’Qwell Jackson, is a Pro Bowl caliber D’Qwell Jackson, and Chris Gocong is one of the best blitzing outside linebackers in the NFL. Scott Fujita needs to get healthy, but Titus Brown, Kaluka Maiava and Quinton Spears have been solid in relief.
The point is, Cleveland’s defense have far exceeded expectations for this season. They had the potential to be good, but I don’t think anyone knew they would be this good. Dick Jauron has done a tremendous job in his first season as Cleveland’s defensive coordinator, and called the plays that allowed his defense to hold the Seahawks to 137 total yards on Sunday.
The AFC North is known for their defenses thanks to Pittsburgh and Baltimore, but the Browns have suddenly found themselves ranked 3rd in the NFL in total defense so far this season – just behind Baltimore (1) and Cincinnati (2). If injuries don’t become an issue (knock on wood), the Browns could have an outstanding defense for a long – long – time.
Overall the game was rather disappointing. The defense played their asses off, and the Seahawks were still only a play away from winning this game. If our offense was even average on Sunday, the Browns win this one by 3-4 scores. As it was, the game is highlighted by the defenses’ stellar play, and the offenses’ (continuous) struggles.
If the Browns hope to have a shot against the ’49ers this week, they’re going to have to do better on offense. What’s even more sad about the Seattle game is that the Browns were coming off their ‘bye week’. They had two weeks to prepare the offense to score exactly 6 points. That’s just awful. O’well, a win is a win. Thank you defense!
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