Has anyone noticed how much Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur likes to use his timeouts before the end of a half in order to get the ball back? I actually like the fact that Shurmur has been doing this; it actually reminds me of the way I would traditionally play Madden. He did it again against the Baltimore Ravens this past Sunday.
Despite the fact that the Browns showed almost no ability to stop the run, with 2:20 left on the clock, Shurmur burned his first time out after seeing that Ray Rice only picked up two yards on first down. The Ravens followed that up with a first-down pass conversion. After the two-minute warning when the Browns stopped Rice for another two yard gain, this time on a reception, Shurmur burned his second timeout with a 3rd-and-8 forthcoming. The Ravens' third-down pass fell incomplete, and Baltimore missed their field goal. The Browns took over at the 31 yard line with about a minute left to go.
Shurmur opted to go with several pass plays against a defense that was just waiting for a Colt McCoy interception. Sure enough, on an errant third down pass, McCoy was picked off by rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith. That set up a Ravens field goal (which easily could've been a touchdown), making it a two-possession game at the half instead of a one-possession game. Here was Shurmur's logic for the way he called that series:
(On if there was any thought to running the ball and going in to halftime down before the interception)- "We were trying to score points. We were in two-minute mode trying to move the ball down the field like we did at the end of the game, so that’s what we were doing. That’s why I used the timeouts to try and preserve time there. No sense bringing them (timeouts) into the locker room unless you can use them in an advantageous way.
While I agree about taking the timeouts, this is not the defense you try to move the ball against in one minute heading into half time. You are just asking for a disaster, and it seemed to set a bad habit in the second half of continuing to pass the ball because we were down by two possessions. The real reason for taking the timeouts should have been that if the Ravens made the field goal and the Browns received the kickoff, you see if you can bust one loose there. If there is still time left on the clock, you run the typical draw play to see if it breaks loose. Maybe you can set up a Hail Mary or pass interference call before the half. Against the Ravens' defense, you don't throw the ball to the sideline on routes the defenders basically admitted prior to the game that they'd be sitting on.