I'm not sure if we'll ever end up getting the real story about what happened when the Cleveland Browns defense and coaching staff fell asleep at the wheel when Bruce Gradkowski ran a quick snap touchdown pass to A.J. Green. After the game Sunday, head coach Pat Shurmur was a bit agitated by the play and speculated that they weren't given enough time to substitute. Nothing wrong happened (on the Bengals' side), according to an anonymous NFL source.
The source, speaking on the condition of anonymity because rulings between teams and the league are confidential, told the Associated Press that the Bengals substituted legally and did not have an advantage on the play.
The Browns actually should have been flagged on the play because they had 12 players on the field due to cornerback Dimitri Patterson re-entering the game from injury without telling the coaches, apparently.
Shurmur explained some more of what he saw when looking at the tape on Monday:
"They changed personnel, but like I said, there's no excuses. We've gotta make sure we match. Regardless of what happens, when they line up with two wideouts out there, we've gotta cover down. I don't care if we're all standing in the middle holding hands. Somebody's gotta go cover those guys. We practice it. They know it, and it's a hard lesson to learn."
Shurmur also explained several people who should have called a timeout, including himself:
"Me, we have defensive coaches on the field that are watching the substitutions, so we can call it from the sideline," Shurmur said. "The middle linebacker, somebody on the field, if they see it, can call timeout. So we need to emphasize the fact that if we have that happen, let's just get ourselves settled. We've talked about it. We've coached it. Like is the case with a lot of things, when you have a young team, it's gotta be re-emphasized."
This is the type of play that we probably won't see again against the Browns for a long time. The biggest message that needs to be conveyed is for people to be prepared no matter what circumstance arises, and for there not to be 12 men on the field when the defense has all the momentum.