Not particularly sharp on either side of the ball, the Browns were exposed as a young team that is still going to make plenty of mistakes. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Browns could be capable of having a game like this, and that’s the thing that frustrates fans the most.
It’s understood that this team is still a work in progress, but fans have been putting up with these kinds of performances since 1999, and one has to wonder how much longer it’s going to be tolerated. No one expected this team to be a playoff contender, but every blowout further tests the resolve of a very loyal fan base.
Here are some notes on the Browns’ disappointing loss to the Titans:
- Head coach Pat Shurmur’s play-calling is still as much a work in progress as the rest of this team. It would seem that he is overthinking the process rather than giving the ball to the few playmakers that he possesses. For instance, on a fourth-and-one play, McCoy pitched it to running back Armond Smith, rather than simply handing it off to Peyton Hillis. While Hillis was stuffed on third down, that’s the guy who should be getting the ball on fourth down as well.
- Is there really an issue brewing between the Browns and Peyton Hillis? He rushed ten times for 46 yards while Montario Hardesty rushed seven times for 22 yards, sparking questions about the way Hillis was being utilized. It didn’t help matters that a rumor spread before the game that Hillis missed last week’s game against the Miami Dolphins because of his contract situation. It’s doubtful that the Browns are trying to phase Hillis out and it’s even more unlikely that they’re punishing him for anything. A game that forces a team to pass makes running backs nearly obsolete, so it was no surprise to see the low totals for Hillis or Hardesty.
- Dropped passes plagued the Browns all day, with Hardesty leading the way. He had four drops that were easy catches, but many of the Browns receivers had issues holding onto the ball, killing the rhythm of a number of drives.
- McCoy actually set two Browns records in the loss with his passing attempts (61) and completions (40). Unfortunately, those came in a blowout rather than a shootout.
- Poor tackling was what did the defense in on this day, leading to huge plays by the Titans, including an 80-yard touchdown pass to Jared Cook and a 57-yard play by Nate Washington.
- The Browns now have two weeks to think about this particular performance and what they can do to improve every aspect of this team. This was one of the top-ranked defenses in the NFL, and the Browns simply weren’t ready for it.