Cleveland Browns fans everywhere are finally able to let out a giant, collective sigh of relief. The season isn’t lost, and the Browns are by no means the most hopeless team in the world, as they took care of business in Indianapolis against the Colts on Sunday, winning 27-19. The Browns were able to run the ball, giving it to running back Peyton Hillis 27 times for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Hillis also had four receptions for 23 yards.
Colt McCoy improved upon a decent first outing as well, completing 22 of 32 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown (thrown to tight end Evan Moore). As the game unfolded, it was clear that the Browns would rely on the running game, and McCoy’s role was to continue his efficiency in the short passing game.
What was most impressive was the Browns’ ability to bounce back from a disappointing home loss to open the season. Rather than fall into a tailspin, this young team was able to put that game behind them and get back to .500. For that, head coach Pat Shurmur and his staff deserve a lot of credit.
However, while it was a win (and, hey, a win is a win), there is still plenty of room for improvement. The play-calling on offense remains a little bland. The balance between rushing/passing plays isn’t the problem, as the coaching staff executed that perfectly. It’s the play-calling on passing plays specifically that leaves something to be desired. While it’s likely that this group of receivers aren’t getting open that often, the coaching staff has to find a way that helps Colt McCoy get the ball downfield. Yes, the dink-and-dunk short game is a staple of the West Coast offense, but defenses will soon become privy to the Browns’ inability to throw it deep, and that won’t bode well as the season wears on.
Here are some more notes on the game:
- It was concerning to see the game start out the same way as last week’s, with two penalties on the first drive and a lackluster effort overall that luckily saw the Browns only down 3-0 as they entered the second quarter. Just like last week, the Browns were a different team in the second quarter, scoring 14 points and taking the lead at the half, 14-9.
- A lot of people were watching the match-up between left tackle Joe Thomas and defensive end Dwight Freeney, with Freeney gaining the advantage early on, as he easily beat Thomas on a play in the first quarter to sack McCoy, causing a fumble that Thomas was able to recover. Thomas was able to get the best of Freeney as the game went on, though.
- The Browns ran the ball quite a bit, but had trouble getting a lot of success with it. Peyton Hillis needed 27 carries to reach 94 yards, and wasn’t able to break off any big runs until his 24-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. The offensive line is going to have to improve its run blocking to help open up the rest of the offense.
- Wide Receiver Watch: Mohamed Massaquoi once again led the team in receiving with 45 yards on three catches. Joshua Cribbs also had three catches for 41 yards. Rookie Greg Little caught four passes for 38 yards. Brian Robiskie was nowhere to be found throughout the game.
- The best thing to take away from this game is the fact that the Browns were able to beat a team that they were “supposed” to beat. The great teams in the NFL are able to regularly defeat teams that are deemed inferior, and this was a big step for this young team to take.