The Cleveland Browns lost to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday to a score of 20-10, though it had the early potential to develop into a full-blown beatdown. The team once again has the defense to thank that it did not turn out that way, as it overcame an uncharacteristic poor first half to clamp down on the 49ers offense and give the Browns a chance to come back from a 17-0 deficit.
Colt McCoy and the offense struggled once again, failing to put together much of anything in terms of a drive until late in the fourth quarter. Watching every series has become an agonizing and predictable sequence for Browns fans, which certainly doesn’t help their play on the field. And this was a game that really exposed the conservative play calling. Despite the fact that the Browns were somehow 6-14 on third down, too often were the Browns throwing behind the line of scrimmage on third-and-short situations.
It’s understandable that the Browns’ receivers may not be able to get much separation, but the Browns are making it much harder on themselves than they need to. Opening up the playbook earlier than, say, late in the fourth quarter, will solve a lot of the maddening dink and dunk plays that we’ve become accustomed to.
It’s starting to feel like the same thing could be written about every single Browns game – that the defense played strong but the offense couldn’t overcome its own issues. At this rate, it doesn’t seem like that will change anytime soon.
Here are some more notes following the Browns’ loss in San Francisco:
- It comes as no surprise that linebacker D’Qwell Jackson led the team in tackles on the day, but what’s even more impressive is that five of those tackles were for a loss. Jackson continues to be the lynchpin of this revamped Browns defense.
- I never thought I’d say this, but where would the Browns currently be without recently-acquired running back Chris Ogbonnaya? He had 11 rushes for 37 yards and five catches for 24 yards and was one of the few offensive players who showed any sort of physicality on the day. With Montario Hardesty leaving early with a calf injury, the Browns relied on Ogbonnaya and, for the most part, he delivered.
- At this point, the most reliable players on offense for the Browns are their three tight ends. There were six catches between Ben Watson (who led the team in receiving yards), Alex Smith, and Evan Moore. The Browns need to continue utilizing this three-man rotation and let McCoy rely on them.
- For being gutted in the first half, the Browns defense once again showed by it is one of the best in the league. Seriously, hang your hat on this defensive unit, Browns fans. This is the reason to have hope for the Browns’ future. Take away the early first quarter McCoy fumble that led to a 49ers touchdown and the defense only yielded 13 points. You can pin this loss squarely on the offense.