Texans Jump Out to Quick Lead, Dominate Browns 30-12

This is what happened when T.J. Ward left the game. Ward, please forgive me for trashing your 2011 performance a couple of weeks ago.

I don't think of the Cleveland Browns' offense as being "Brady Quinn-bad," but maybe that is because I don't want to believe things have gotten that low. When you take at the past five games, the offense has been terrible (is it a coincidence that this period goes hand-in-hand with the loss of running back Peyton Hillis)? Forget first quarter struggles; the Browns have only had one offensive touchdown in the first half in their past five games.  Let's get to the full review of the game...

CLEVELAND BROWNS (3-5) GAME #8 HOUSTON TEXANS (6-3)
VS.
12
30

WEEK 9 - CLEVELAND BROWNS VS. HOUSTON TEXANS (COMPLETE GAME REVIEW)

  1. Goat of the Week: WR Greg Little - In the absence of Hillis, this offense really needed someone to step up. It had looked like Little was well on his way to doing that, but I've been pretty disappointed with his production since he became a starter. Colt McCoy definitely is not helping matters, but it is alarming how bad the target-to-catch ratio has been for Little. Against Houston, Little was targeted 8 times but only had 2 catches for 33 yards. The week before that against the 49ers, Little was targeted 11 times but only had 4 catches for 28 yards.
     
    Against the Texans, Little did not bring in an early third-down pass that I felt he should have had. He also continues to look pretty awkward when McCoy delivers the ball deep down the sideline to him. He did catch one of McCoy's short heaves, but we need to see Little be the consistent receiver he was earlier this season. And then, there was also the interception miscommunication before the end of the first half.
     
  2. Awarding Game Balls: WR Joshua Cribbs - Two of the Browns' scores were set up by or involved Cribbs. He tried to jump start the offense early with his longest kick return of the season, but the Browns were only able to manage a field goal out of it. Toward the end of the fourth quarter, Cribbs caught a touchdown pass from Colt McCoy down near the goal line. He was targeted five catches and caught the ball every time. He was also involved heavily on kickoff coverage, notching two special teams tackles and one assist. Full game ball award given here.
     
  3. Can't Afford to Fall Behind So Early: With the exception of their early Week 1 deficit to the Bengals, the Browns have zero ability to rally from a multiple possession lead. Anyone else in our division would be able to rally from such a deficit; we've seen the Bengals do it multiple times this year, including this past Sunday. Before McCoy was able to throw his first pass against the Texans, we were down 14-0. I don't think McCoy played particularly bad, but it can't be easy to gain momentum when you know the game is quickly getting out of reach. It might have the slightest effects, such as a player on offense pressing too much or a player on defense being a little more aggressive.
     
  4. Line Up the Tight Ends: I am begging for the Browns to go with multiple tight end sets and just let McCoy throw the ball to Benjamin Watson and Evan Moore. I still think those are his favorite two receivers, and how many times were they targeted against the Texans? Just four times.
     
  5. Holes Early to No Success: I thought our offensive line was creating some pretty decent holes for Chris Ogbonnaya to run through during the first half, but he wasn't taking full advantage of them. Whether it be too much shifting in the backfield or the inability to make a move on a defender in a one-on-one situation, he wasn't cutting it. He finished the game with 13 carries for 28 yards. For as decent as he looked in his first game or two of work as a backup, he didn't show anything to make me want to see him as a third-down back, especially since I've counted numerous plays where he fails to pick up the blitzer.
     
  6. Hate the Rotation System: This sort of involves what I said about Moore earlier, but I just hate our rotation of players. There is virtually no creativity, and if there is, it is painfully obvious. Case in point: when Alex Smith went down, rookie tight end Jordan Cameron immediately entered the game and lined up split wide to the right. McCoy looked at him right away and connected with him for seven yards. Just as quick as he got in, Cameron was off the field and as far as I know, did not play the rest of the game. We have certain guys who have shown the ability to provide a spark, but getting them one touch or making them a specialty-only player doesn't help this offense. Sure, if we had elite players on the depth chart ahead of them, it wouldn't be a bad idea. But that's not the case.
     
  7. Discouraging Defense: For the second week in a row, the Browns' run defense was gashed in the first half. This week was worse than last week's, and I give credit to the Texans' offense for calling plays that seemed to taking advantage of knowing how to get our defensive ends or linebackers out of position. Ben Tate and Arian Foster each had over 100+ yards rushing with a touchdown, and even Matt Schaub got a touchdown on a quarterback draw. Hey, but at least the Browns' pass defense ranking will improve! /sarc
     
  8. What Did You Think of Vickers? I know the announcer kept on saying, "...and look at Lawrence Vickers with the big block here...," only to show him not really engaging with anyone on the replay. I didn't have a chance to go back and look if he was the key to a lot of the Texans' big runs. If you watched the game back, let us know if Vickers had an impact.
     
  9. Is DQ at Pro Bowl Status? I think D'Qwell Jackson is having an excellent season, and although you don't think of him as an intimidating force in the middle of the defense, his consistency at making plays at or behind the line of scrimmage continues to stand out. He had 8 tackles this past Sunday along with 2 quarterback hits, 1 pass defended, and 1 interception. The interception came off of an awesome hit by safety Mike Adams.
     
  10. Understanding Your Team: I think we have to question the decisions being made by Pat Shurmur when you know that our offense has trouble getting into scoring position and we're down by 14 points. Facing a 4th-and-1 in the first quarter, Shurmur opted to kick a 50-yard field goal instead. I understand that some coaches want points on the board for confidence, but you just knew that we weren't going to be on that side of the field very often. In order to cut the deficit, those types of risks need to be taken. On the next drive, Shurmur opted to punt on 4th-and-1. The Texans answered by quickly driving down the field and making it a 21-3 game.
     
  11. Can't Wait to Replace These Guards: I just can't stand the way Shawn Lauvao and Jason Pinkston are playing at the guard positions. I have found no benefit to their ability to run block or pass protect, and one or the other seem to commit so many stupid late personal foul penalties. I understand that both players are young and it is part of the growing pains, but an offense can succeed with poor receivers if the offensive line can block. I am still yearning for John Greco to start at right guard in place of Lauvao.
     
  12. Comedy That Doesn't Count: I needed a good laugh toward the end of the game when the Browns were being blown out, and I got it when Derrick Ward fumbled and the ball was picked up by Phil Taylor. Showing almost no regard for protecting the football, Taylor looked as if he wanted to take full advantage of being able to hit someone. It looked as though he tried to throw a semi-punch at an offensive lineman, and then the ball came free as an unintentional lateral right to safety Eric Hagg. Replay review overturned the play when it was seen that Ward's elbow hit the ground before the ball came loose.
     
  13. Special Teams Tackles: Leading the Browns in special teams tackles, as mentioned earlier, was Cribbs with two tackles. Adding one tackle each were Usama Young, Chris Gocong, Quinton Spears, and Titus Brown. Spears' tackle might have saved a touchdown on a punt return.
     
  14. Brownies: The Browns weren't as successful on third downs as they've been, only converting 4-of-12 (33%)...when T.J. Ward left with an injury early, I thought Young played awful in his place, almost to the point where I wanted Ray Ventrone...only targeting our running backs once on pass plays all game in the West Coast Offense makes no sense to me, and I saw our running back uncovered at least two times...thank god for Brad Maynard, otherwise I'd have another position to complain about.

Up next, the Browns take on the St. Louis Rams. At 1-7, a "big" story (not nationally big) will be Pat Shurmur facing his former team. Neither team is playing good football, and anyone who bets on this type of game would be taking an unnecessary risk.

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