The Colts win felt good partly because we didn’t make many mistakes. Colt threw no interceptions. We had only one turnover. The yellow flags weren’t flying.
To be sure, this wasn’t a breakout performance for the offense, nor was it anything for the defense to chest-thump about. Our longest pass reception was just 28 yards. The right side of our offensive line was porous. We weren’t able to stop the run.
At least the game seemed under control, though. Looking forward to Sunday against Miami (and to some extent backward to the Colts game), here are what I see as the 7 biggest questions facing the Browns.
Can we get some run blocking, please? We’re damn lucky to have Hillis on the roster, because dude can pile through. I think Rich Gannon called him a “bowling ball,” which, wait...is this a compliment? Still, the Browns had fewer yards rushing than the Colts (106 for the Brownies, 109 for the Colts) on eight MORE rushing attempts (34 for the Browns, 26 for the Colts). I don’t know if that says more about how bad our run-blocking is or how good their run defense is or how good their run blocking is or...whatever. It’s just bad.
How’s about some urgency on offense? Our pace feels slow and methodical. That is probably best for us right now given our inexperience. Yet it would be nice to see us look and act more like we want to get down to business and score come serious points, exploiting whatever opportunities we can find. I’m not saying we should get emotional – that would be counterproductive – but we should be more efficient on the field, if that makes sense.
How do we deal with underneath passes? If you look at the tape, you’ll see Collins and the Colts exploited us a few times with open receivers in the flat. One sequence that got us multiple times was a play-fake to Addai, who then ran unblocked through the middle or the side and caught the pass for an easy gain.
How do we get to the passer? With a few exceptions – most notably two great plays by Sheard – our defense wasn’t able to put pressure on Collins. I know some people are all goodie-gumdrops over Sheard, but the overall performance of the unit left something to be desired. Collins had PLENTY of time in the pocket on dozens of plays.
How do we stop the run? Our pass defense has been pretty solid: aside from the one blunder against the Bengals, we haven’t given up any breakout TDs this season. The run defense is another story. We allowed an average of 4.2 yards per carry against the Colts, and Addai and Carter at times were gashing the defense at will.
How do we involve Cribbs even more? Cribbs was a huge asset against the Colts, with some big returns and a couple of catches on offense for good pickups. It’s a shame he’s not lining up more often.