Cleveland Browns offense was awful in Week 1 defeat
By Joel W. Cade
The Cleveland Browns opened the season with their 12th consecutive opening day loss. With how bad the offense played, more loses are on the horizon.
In a performance that can only be described as awful, the Cleveland Browns offense struggled in Sunday’s 29-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. The offense lacked an identity and no discernible game plan was evident from watching the broadcast of the game.
The Browns were plagued by poor pass protection, lack of push in the run game and dropped passes in crucial situations.
A look at the key offensive indicators demonstrate just how poorly the offense performed.
First down failures
First downs set the tone for an entire drive. If the offense can gain four or more yards on first down, it opens up more possibilities on second and third down. Conversely, fail to gain four or more yards on first down and the playbook has to remain conservative while trying to make up a longer bit of yardage in a fewer amount of plays.
“We have to move the ball effectively and be able to get the ball to our playmakers and run the ball effectively as well.” – Robert Griffin III
The Browns were inconsistent on first downs against the Eagles. In the second quarter and the early third quarter, the offense averaged 14 yards per first down play. It was during this period, not surprisingly, that the Browns scored their 10 points and were in the game.
However, in the first quarter, fourth quarter and the second half of the third quarter, the Browns were awful on first down. They averaged just 2.5 yards per first down play, a total that includes a 16-yard run by Isaiah Crowell in garbage time.
Failure to win on first down set the tone for the game as it put the Browns in a lot of long-yardage situations on second and third down. As a result, the playbook was limited and an easy target for the Eagles defense.
Poor field position
The Browns lost the turnover and field position battle. The Browns inability to sustain drives led to the Eagles enjoying short fields and those short drives led to points, as Philadelphia had three scoring drives of less than 60 yards each.
Robert Griffin III threw one interception on the day on a pass which was tipped at the line of scrimmage. Cam Erving snapped the ball over Griffin’s head, resulting in a safety plus change of possession. By giving the Eagles a short field, free points plus the ball, the Browns offense dug themselves into a hole.
Missing explosive plays
If chunk plays measure an explosive offense, then the Browns are doing average in that department. The Browns had four plays over 20 yards in the game. There were the long passes to Terrelle Pryor for 44 yards and Corey Coleman for 58 yards. The two other chunk plays came on a Griffin scramble and a Crowell run in garbage time. The chunk plays look bigger than they actually were because the two long passes led to points, but beyond that the offense was not explosive.
No red zone woes … sort of
Red zone efficiency was not a major concern for the Browns against the Eagles. However, getting to the red zone is a major concern. Of the two trips to the red zone, the Browns came away with a touchdown and field goal. If the Browns want to be successful they must figure out how to put together sustained drives that actually put them in the red zone.
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RG3 needs work
The play of Griffin also needs to improve. He certainly was not helped out by inexperienced receiving group, but his own play needs work. Griffin was consistently off target in the short, intermediate and long passing game as his accuracy remains a question mark. When things began to fall apart for the Browns, he reverted back to old bad habits in his drops.
Why Griffin did not slide on the play near the end of the game where he was injured remains a mystery. Running out of bounds was the best play in the moment. While Griffin could not have guessed that rookie cornerback Jalen Mills was going to try to tackle him as he ran out of bounds, he needs to slide in that situation.
The collision may cost Griffin going into future games as his left shoulder was definitely hurt on the play.
One bad snap
Erving snapping the ball over the quarterback’s head is inexcusable. Just as inexcusable was the Browns inability to recover from that mistake. After that play, the same old Browns reappeared. The fight was gone and the team seemed to accept its fate as defeated.
Changing this mentality is head coach Hue Jackson’s biggest challenge in Cleveland. He acknowledged the fact in the post-game press conference and he actually looked shocked in trying to make sense of the events of the game.
Next: Cleveland Browns Week 1 position grades
It may only be one game, but you have to wonder if Jackson really knows what he has gotten himself into by coaching the Browns?