|KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (2-0)||GAME #2||CLEVELAND BROWNS (0-2)|
Sunday's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs felt very similar to the one the Browns suffered in Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I'm going to start sounding like a broken record before we're even a significant portion of the way into the season, but I don't care: when you have a stupid offensive gameplan, you are not going to win very many games.
Heading into the season, we might have ranked our units in this order, from best to worst: special teams, defense, offense. Through the first two weeks, the order looks like this: defense, special teams, offense. To say that the defense has improved would be an understatement; they are the reason we've lost our first two games by a combined five points. For the offense to not execute is just an absolute killer to the rest of the players busting their tail off on gameday.
With that said, let's get to the review of the game. We'll kick off with the goats and the game balls...
WEEK 2 - KANSAS CITY CHIEFS VS. CLEVELAND BROWNS (COMPLETE GAME REVIEW)
Goats of the Game:
Seneca Wallace: If Jake Delhomme was named a goat for last week's interception to Ronde Barber, then there's no way I can forgive Wallace's pick six to CB Brandon Flowers. Yes, Wallace "made up for it" so to speak with a bomb to Joshua Cribbs moments later, but that is beside the point. Wallace's decision to stare at Chansi Stuckey to begin with on the sideline, hesitate, and then still lob the throw over there highlights the very reason I never considered him capable of being our starting quarterback.
If I put his throw against Delhomme's on a scale, I'd say Wallace's was worse because there was no pressure and he couldn't have missed the defender standing there the whole time. Wallace also gets partial blame for his lack of accuracy on many of his deep throws, but I'll get more into that later.
Alex Mack: Apparently, our beloved center was furious after former Brown Shaun Smith allegedly "grabbed his private parts." Mack said he was so fired him that he started to chase Smith to the sideline during the second quarter. What happened on Cleveland's next series?
After a catch and run by Jerome Harrison, Mack inexplicably plowed into linebacker Derrick Johnson for a clear late hit, resulting in a 15-yard penalty. Guess who attempted, and then missed, a 42-yard field goal two plays later? Phil Dawson. Guess how many points the Browns lost by? Two. Granted, the field goal in itself could've changed Kansas City's philosophy in the second half, but Mack's hit could have been the underrated difference.
Awarding Game Balls:
Matt Roth: I can't give game balls to the entire defense every week, so this week I'll single out Matt Roth. The Chiefs were trying to muster a big drive to close out the first half, but Roth stuck his hand up and deflected a pass from Matt Cassel. Nose tackle Ahtyba Rubin was on the receiving end of the pick, and any time Roth helps a defensive lineman get an interception, that in itself is worth a game ball.
Run vs. Pass Distribution: The distribution between pass attempts and run attempts was a little better this week, but still not where it needs to be. In a game where the Browns again had the lead for most of the second half and were never down by more than three points, the number of passes for Wallace (31) should not outweigh the carries by Jerome Harrison and Peyton Hillis (24).
Commitment to Harrison: Despite Harrison only having a 2.1 yards per carry average on 16 carries, I think it was the right decision to remain somewhat committed to giving him the football. The problem against the Chiefs wasn't so much Harrison as it was the playcalling and the lower quality blocking. Harrison should not be running very often without Lawrence Vickers, and I think it's time we see Shawn Lauvao and Tony Pashos command the right side of the line.
Worst Officiating Call: Over at Arrowhead Pride following the game, I saw a few Chiefs fans question why we'd blame the officials for the Browns losing this game. I can't get too picky on calls like the roughing the passer one, because as stupid as the rule is, it often gets called the same way for many teams in the NFL, just like it also did against the Baltimore Ravens last week.
However, the non-reversal of Jerome Harrison's fumble was as bad as you can get in terms of officiating. The ground clearly caused the fumble, and the camera was right on top of the action to show that. What more visual evidence is required? Chalk up three more points that were handed to the Chiefs. Kansas City scored 10 points in the first half, and our defense was not responsible for either of the Chiefs' scores.
Obsession With the Deep Ball: Did I miss some scouting report that said that the combination of [Seneca Wallace + the Chiefs defense] = [success with the deep ball]? I did not anticipate that being the apparent focal point of the gameplan, but shockingly it was. Don't get me wrong, I love throwing the deep ball here and there, especially if you can utilize it off of playaction effectively.
I also liked the fact that Wallace sometimes recognized the all-out blitz and would immediately throw the ball toward the sideline to give his receiver a chance to make a play. However, on plays like that one, or the other third-down plays, there should be other routes available to Wallace. Do we really have such a lack of faith in the route running abilities of our receivers that all we can tell them is to "go deep"?
More on the Deep Ball: The crazy thing about the deep ball against the Chiefs? Our receivers were open every time. I don't know if that was dumb luck or something that was scouted, but then you have to consider how often Wallace missed his receiver. His best throw went to Joshua Cribbs, which makes sense for two reasons: the two often worked together in camp in the Cyclone, and the throw was over the middle of the field. Wallace seemed to have trouble getting the ball accurately to either sideline on deep passes.
One More 'Ugh'...: My last two points just talked about our quarterback throwing many deep balls to our wide receivers. If you thought that would be talked about versus our [projected] success in the run game prior to the season, then I'd like you to pick some lottery numbers for me.
The Tight End Bug: While it wasn't particularly devastating this week, the Chiefs' leading received ended up being rookie tight end Tony Moeaki, a third round pick out of Iowa. He had 5 catches for 58 yards, but the part that hurt were that his final three catches all went for first downs and decent yardage.
Moore Hit Hard: Tight end Evan Moore took a nasty blow to the head against the Chiefs. Wallace found Moore running up the field on target, but it would've been tough for Moore to hang on even if it were a clean hit. He appeared to suffer a concussion, so I hope he is fine.
Secondary Excels Again: I can't really complain about our secondary, who again held a quarterback to under 200 yards and this week without a touchdown. Sheldon Brown also had a very acrobatic interception on a deep pass; it was a very impressive leap in my book. Safety T.J. Ward was a tackling machine again, with 10 tackles. I'm assuming the coverage was also stout on the play where Marcus Benard recorded a sack, because Cassel held the ball for too long on the play before Benard finally reached him.
Kicking Away From Cribbs: Look at these starting field position numbers after kickoffs:
-35 yard line
-25 yard line
-26 yard line
-34 yard line
-33 yard line
While those starting field position numbers are decent, I'm sure the Chiefs were thrilled to finish the game with those results. With how often the ball was kicked short, I'd expect at least something past the 40-yard line. Once again, a team found a way to neutralize Cribbs on returns (he only was able to return one punt for five yards too).
Dawson Misses It: Although a penalty forced Phil Dawson into a longer field goal possibly, Dawson is usually money from 42 yards. To see him pull it wide left was another zing to our team's hope for momentum. After connecting on field goals left and right in the preseason, it's a punch in the gut to see Dawson miss in the regular season.
Hodges' Good Day...Sort Of: My number one fear about Reggie Hodges heading into the season would be that he'd be a pretty decent punter, except for that one punt per game you always remember that costs you. Hodges punted eight times in the game and had four downed inside the 20. It should've been five, but Joe Haden barely went into the end zone one time.
Then, it happened -- with 2:41 in the game, Hodges only booted a 37-yard punt (no return). The Chiefs started that drive 42 yards away from the end zone. Had the punt been a little better, maybe the Chiefs are a little more weary about going for it on fourth down and the Browns get another chance, only down a field goal.
Massaquoi's Drop at the End: The drop by Mohamed Massaquoi near the end of the game was another killer. It wasn't an easy catch to make, but it was still one you have to come down with considering the defender didn't get turned around good enough to make a play on the ball. Add up all of these "what if's" I keep mentioning, and you can figure out why Browns fans are so frustrated to have lost the first two games.
Thomas Jones' Leap: I don't think Thomas Jones got the first down, but when a guy is leaping in the air in real-time speed, I can't blame the officials for how they spot it. The replay review looked like he possibly could be a tiny bit short, but on the same note it wasn't very conclusive. Oh well; chalk up another break that goes the way of the opposing team.
Special Teams Tackles: The Browns' coverage units on special teams were outstanding. The leading tacklers were Joe Haden (2) and T.J. Ward (2). One tackle apiece came from the special team vets, Ray Ventrone, Blake Costanzo, and Kaluka Maiava. On four punt returns, Javier Areans only had six return yards. On kickoffs, the Chiefs' returners averaged less than 20 yards a touch.
- Brownies: If I had to pick on one defensive player, it would be Abram Elam...overall, the good tackling continued...the Chiefs picked up chunks of yardage in the run game right before the half to no avail, but the backs were stopped at the line a lot more often than the past few years...David Bowens played but did not record a statistic...Nick Sorensen was back and assisted on one tackle...Ben Watson had a nice 44-yard scamper, but like everyone else seemed absent in the second half.
Where do we go from here? The Browns face the Ravens next week, so it'll probably be time to cue up an offensive breakout. /sarc
It really does come down to playcalling, beside the one-throw-to-the-sideline-for-a-pick-six-by-Delhomme-or-Wallace plays. If that means we have to get rid of Brian Daboll this early in the year (not Eric Mangini), then so be it. I am disappointed in our offense, but I haven't lost faith in them. Some people look at our schedule and don't see how we can win a game over the next seven weeks or so. If it comes down to talent, we're good enough to win some of those games in my opinion. If it comes down to the same type of playcalling though, then I won't be picking the Browns to win for awhile.