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The Wildcat is Back, but the Outcome Remains the Same in Browns' 13-12 Loss to Rams

Thwarted again, this time by several unfortunate self-induced mistakes by the Cleveland Browns. The St. Louis Rams were merely innocent bystanders who sat idly by as the Browns fell to 3-6 on the season. If we're playing the "what if" game in terms of self-induced errors, the Browns could very well be a 5-4 team right now. That doesn't excuse the fact that this team still has trouble pointing points on the board, but it highlights how they have failed to take advantage of a soft schedule. Let's get to the full review of the game...



  1. Goat of the Week: C Alex Mack - There is a lot of blame that could go around for this play, including head coach Pat Shurmur for the play earlier involving tight end Alex Smith and the officials for not calling encroachment on the Rams. Whether you think the long snapper, the kicker, the guards, etc. screwed up on this play, in terms of players on the Browns, it was Mack who set off the chain reaction that prevented the field goal from giving Cleveland the lead and a likely win. I will speak no more of this tragic play.
  2. Awarding Game Balls: QB Colt McCoy - Over the past two seasons, I have not been a big fan of Sam Bradford's. I guess you could say that a few comparisons have been made between he and McCoy. If I am comparing the two from this past Sunday, I'd give the advantage to the Browns' quarterback. The difference is that Bradford has a long-term commitment with the Rams, while McCoy will be re-evaluated by the end of the season. If he puts together more performances like he did against the Rams, he'll stick around next year as the starter too. Full game ball award given here.
  3. Finally, the Wildcat: It was a pleasant surprise to see the Browns actually come out and operate from the Wildcat with Joshua Cribbs. Cribbs lined up in Shotgun for three plays. The first one was a four-yard run on 1st-and-10 from 32 yards away from the end zone. The second was a two-yard run on 2nd-and-10 from our own 31 yard line. The third came on 1st-and-10 from 39 yards away from the end zone, and it involved a lot more trickery.
  4. The Funnest Play of the Season: I will highlight this more in the "Power Play of the Week" series tomorrow, unless another play comes to mind. The funnest play of the season was Cribbs' third Wildcat play. Quarterback Seneca Wallace was at the top of the screen, while McCoy was at the bottom of the screen. McCoy took the snap, and tossed the ball forward to Wallace as he approached him. Wallace then pitched the ball back to McCoy, who was coming toward him. McCoy had a very nice pocket to work with, and he found Wallace down the left sideline for 21 yards. I kept wondering on this play, was McCoy still allowed to throw the ball after Cribbs had pitched the ball forward to Wallace? It was almost like a shuffle pass. Is there a rule that allows small flips in the backfield like that?
  5. No Wildcat in the Second Half: Do I have an issue with not running the Wildcat in the second half? Not really, and there is one reason why: I loved the timing of the end-around to Cribbs in the third quarter, a play that went for 22 yards. I also loved the timing of the end-around to Greg Little in the fourth quarter, a play that went for 11 yards. Those type of creative plays were enough to balance things out. Putting Wallace in at the receiver position a few times was a good idea too.
  6. Defensive Line Shows Up Late: It was a pretty quiet day for the Browns' defensive line until the second half, and I don't know if that is because the front four stepped things up or if the Rams' porous offensive line just couldn't hold it together anymore. In the second half, the Browns' defensive line drew a tripping penalty, got a sack from Phil Taylor, and shut out the Rams except for a field goal on a drive that started in field goal range. It would've been nice to see the front four perform better early, and I wonder if not having Jayme Mitchell (reserve Emmanuel Stephens started in his place) made a difference.
  7. The Negatives for McCoy: There were a couple of negatives with McCoy still, but the one thing that immediately comes to mind are two plays in which he rolled out way too soon to the right and ended up throwing an incompletion. He appeared to be well-protected on both plays and basically ran into pressure by rolling out unnecessarily. Perhaps that is a side-effect of being pressured too much the past couple of weeks. I was also irritated by the one-yard route to Greg Little on the team's opening drive when facing a 3rd-and-2. I put that on both McCoy and Little; there's no reason for that play to not be attempted beyond the sticks.
  8. Haden Adjusts After Lloyd's Early Advantage: I never want to see Joe Haden give up a touchdown, but there is also something compelling about seeing him respond after he has been taken advantage of early. Lloyd had 3 catches on Haden in the first half, including the game's only touchdown. Give credit where credit is due -- Lloyd has been credited as a dynamic receiver, and he made a terrific one-handed catch on one play (in which he had made a great move on to get open), and he did a good job on his touchdown reception as well. Shortly after the beginning of the third quarter though, Haden held Lloyd to without a catch the rest of the game and finished the game with three passes defended and no pass interference calls.
  9. A Bit Too Slow: Even though running back Chris Ogbonnaya had a good-looking stat line with 19 carries for 90 yards (4.7 yards per carry average), it was still frustrating to watch him run most of the game. He lacked the burst to get more yardage against a Rams' defense that had been ranked 32nd against the run, and once again, he couldn't manage much yards after contact. Every time they flash the cameras on Peyton Hillis, he seems to be thinking, "I would've finished that thing a lot better." I do like what Ogbonnaya has done catching the ball on screens, so that is a plus.
  10. Rebound for Little: This was a better game for Little, who hauled in his deepest reception of the season, a 52-yarder before the end of the first half. He also had back-to-back plays on the Browns' final offensive drive that helped Cleveland quickly move the ball down the field. After naming him the goat last week, Little was a serious candidate for the game ball this week.
  11. Not the Same: It's tough to watch Devin Hester nearly go the distance any time he returns a punt, while Joshua Cribbs can't seem to break the big one. That's what happens when your team doesn't retain enough core special teams players. Cribbs had a critical fumble in the fourth quarter. He deserves blame for that, but at the time he recovered the botched handoff on the final offensive drive, I considered that to be an act of redemption.
  12. Special Teams Tackles: The Browns had 6 special teams tackles, with Kaluka Maiava and Quinton Spears each having 2 tackles. Buster Skrine and Ray Ventrone also added tackles.
  13. Business as Usual: It was a big day for our outside linebackers. Scott Fujita tipped a pass from Bradford in the second quarter and intercepted it, setting the Browns up at midfield. It led to a Cleveland field goal. He also defended another pass during the game. Chris Gocong forced a strip on running back Steven Jackson to end a drive that saw the Rams driving (with the lead) to start the third quarter. It set the tempo for giving the Browns the advantage in field position most of the second half.
  14. Brownies: Tight end Ben Watson wanted to out-do Lloyd, so he made an awesome one-handed snag of his own...I thought tight end Evan Moore should have been flagged for hands to the face, but the defender on the play should have been flagged for an offsetting pass interference...cornerback Sheldon Brown missed a tackle on a third-down play in the second half that left me shaking my head...even though it worked, I did not care for the 3rd-and-2 handoff to Owen Marecic that took place just two plays prior to the Smith situation...I was a bit surprised to see the Browns go 0-of-4 in the red zone, because it had actually been a strong suit for this team up until this point.

Up next, the Browns take on the Jacksonville Jaguars at home. Our record isn't good, but hopefully this team still keeps working hard so they don't end up looking like a complete embarrassment by the time their division games come up.