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Browns Get Picked Apart by Titans 31-13 Heading Into Bye Week

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It would have been nice for the Cleveland Browns to head into their bye week at 3-1. Heading into the season, I think fans thought that was a real possibility. Cleveland ended up picking up wins over two teams that are a combined 0-8, and they ended up losing to two teams that are a combined 5-3. The Titans looked like a team that could contend in their division. After what we saw the Ravens' defense to do the Jets this past Sunday though, I'm not so sure I can say the same about the Browns in the AFC North.

31 13


  1. Goat of the Week: S Usama Young - I know Scott Fujita was responsible for the coverage on tight end Jared Cook and looked slow as dirt in comparison, but even if Fujita gives up a big play of around 35 yards, it should not have gone 80 yards. Young had a clean and relatively easy shot at the tight end and just whiffed (or fell off the back of Cook, whatever you want to call it). Cook didn't even try to make a move to evade Young, which makes it even worse. Young finished the game with zero tackles on defense, so it looks like he didn't show up on other players either.
  2. Goat of the Week: RB Montario Hardesty - He finished the game with 5 catches for 49 yards but was targeted 4 additional times. I know that no one is perfect, but those four additional passes should have been caught. I'll chalk it up as a bad day for Hardesty rather than him having poor hands, because the scouting report on him was that he could catch the football well. I'm not crazy about the dumpoff routes to him on those plays either, but that's a different story. Hardesty also caught a screen pass in the fourth quarter and it appeared that he would have had a touchdown if he had just run to the outside versus cutting it back inside.
  3. Awarding Game Balls: K Phil Dawson - The veteran kicked connected on field goals of 48- and 51-yards in the first half, keeping the Browns within reach for most of the first half. He didn't get any opportunities the rest of the game because the team needed touchdowns to try to get back into it. Full game ball award given here.
  4. Welcome to the Party: Isn't it fitting the way that wide receiver Brian Robiskie caught 2 of his 3 passes during the game (note: this was the first game all season that Robiskie had a catch)? One completion came on the final play of the first half as time expired, meaning it was a useless play. The final play of the game as time expired also went to Robiskie, meaning it was a useless play. Useless plays for a ________ receiver (fill in the blank). I don't have anything against Robiskie, but if he's taking snaps and not doing enough to get open for Colt McCoy, let's get a Jordan Norwood or Carlton Mitchell in there instead.
  5. Neutralized: Before the game, I kept reading that Matt Hasselbeck's protection in Tennessee was superb. I am now a believer of that, because our young defensive line had no chance of getting close to him all day. Ahtyba Rubin was the only guy to register anything; he had one quarterback hit for the game. As a result, that allowed our linebackers and defensive backs to be tested in coverage more than had been tested previously. I thought the cornerbacks held up well, but safety and linebacker were not too impressive.
  6. Average Run Defense: Even though the Browns allowed Chris Johnson to have his best rushing day of the season and pass the 100-yard mark for the day, I still don't see the run defense as a major problem. Johnson had a big run early on, but after that, he had a lot of carries that went for minimal yardage. I don't see the Browns as a team that is going to deny an opposing rusher from picking up yardage, but so far I think they've done a good job at making running backs a non-factor on the outcome of a game.
  7. McCoy's Accuracy: Overall, Colt McCoy definitely threw the ball with more accuracy than he did against the Dolphins, finishing the game at a 65% rate. Despite the right side of the offensive line seeming to hold up better at times (thank you, Tony Pashos), McCoy still seemed to lack confidence. It's hard to say why he appears to have regressed since the preseason, where it looked like he had all the confidence in the world. The little things need to be fine-tuned for McCoy -- setting his feet better, identifying the vulnerability in a defense pre-snap, and making sure he doesn't miss on the big play. There was a play in the first half where McCoy had Ben Watson on a crossing route that was going up the field. It probably could've gone for a touchdown and would've looked very similar to Cook's score. Instead, McCoy overthrew Watson.
  8. Running Back Irritation: Right now, the running back situation is a mess. Why? Because it's not working. Here's what Shurmur has right: he has identified that Montario Hardesty should receive carries in the game. Here is what he has wrong: he doesn't need to let a carry total of series number dictate when Hardesty gets the ball. Peyton Hillis is our starting running back and has proven to be a beast with the ability to stay strong as the game goes on (see the Week 2 win over the Colts). Hillis is getting breathers when he is not tired, and it's clearly frustrating him and maybe taking him out of rhythm.
  9. Flashback to Last Year: The problem last year was that we had something like this:
    Hillis does well. Hillis does well. Hillis does well. Hillis does well....might need a break. Mike Bell does terrible. Bell does terrible. Punt, field goal, whatever...but it's not a touchdown.
    We need to use that same substitution strategy as last year, but just insert a better back like Hardesty. Instead, we're using the duo in isolation of each other on different drives, and it's just not meshing well.
  10. Handoff to Hillis & Flip to Smith: One of our worst plays this year is the fullback handoff to Peyton Hillis. This is an example where I like the concept of the play call, but we can't execute it, especially in short yardage situations. What I do like is a play like the one we tried to Armond Smith, where he was flipped the ball as a trick play. The only issue I had with that play is that the opposing defense is smart. I know Smith has hardly played, but his reputation is that he is fast. When he suddenly appears in the game out of no where, especially on a fourth down play, isn't that a little fishy?
  11. Three Tight End Set: I liked seeing the three-tight end set that the Browns passed out of. Watson and Alex Smith lined up as regular tight ends, while Evan Moore was split wide. The play went to Smith for good yardage. Why we won't line up Moore at receiver more often is still beyond me. Make this guy a starter and see how things go. I think part of McCoy's confidence in the preseason came from the fact that he always knew where Moore was and felt he could lob the ball up high to him when in doubt.
  12. Keeping Pace: Another game, another solid effort from linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, who finished with 10 tackles to bring his season total to 40. I thought it was a great defensive day for cornerback Joe Haden again, who had two passes defended and came a long way to chase down Nate Washington after a pick play toward the end of the first half.
  13. Different Game? Big plays are a part of the game, and I am not trying to say that the Titans getting them was a fluke by any means -- they took advantage of our weaknesses. The big plays really killed Cleveland though, including an 80-yard touchdown to a tight end is a rarity, the pick play involving Washington should have been illegal, and McCoy's interception that was taken back for a touchdown. Out of those three plays, two of them should be immediately correctable (the last two): the pick play should have been flagged by officials, keeping it a close game. Then, presumably, McCoy wouldn't have had to force the ball in the second half. The Browns were blown out, but I wouldn't it was solely due to inferiority.
  14. Special Teams Tackles: There were 3 special teams tackles and 2 assists. One tackle each went to FB Owen Marecic, CB Buster Skrine, and S Usama Young. The assists went to Marecic and Emmanuel Stephens.
  15. Announcer Humor: sounded like Marv Albert and Rich Gannon tried to come up with a little recurring humor sketch through the broadcast about sweaters and the temperature in the booth. I'm not opposed the idea of the announcers having chemistry, but the duo's attempt at it came off as irritating, especially when they were going back-and-forth when important plays were about to take place.
  16. Brownies: It was another good day of punting for Brad Maynard, who had two punts inside the 20, including one at the 2-yard line...I thought the trick play attempt to Joshua Cribbs was good in the sense that we tried to get creative with him...even though Greg Little led the team in receptions, this was the first game where I was nervous about his ability to secure the ball...if Mike Adams doesn't intercept that one pass and the receiver snatches it instead, does he go all the way?

Up next, the Browns have a bye week, followed by a road trip to Oakland to take on the Raiders.