And now for a list of positives from this game…
Phil Dawson chipped in two 50+ yard field goals (50, 51) to bring his season total from that distance up to six.
In all seriousness, though, all of us here at WFNY pretty much hinted that we thought this was going to be one rough matchup. With that being said, I know I’m surprised at just how woeful and devoid of purpose the Browns were in this game. They gave up 261 yards on the ground, a franchise record for the Houston Texans, and the team totaled just 172 yards of offense in the 30-12 demolition that could have easily been a lot worse.
The Browns have not scored a touchdown this season in the first or third quarters. Read that sentence over again and let it sink in. That means that a) the Browns aren’t capable of executing their offensive gameplan at the outset and b) the coaching staff and players are unable to make halftime adjustments to respond to the opponent’s scheme. If that isn’t a hard and fast strike against the coaching staff, I don’t know what is.
Colt McCoy’s just not getting it. Sure, his offensive line is a revolving door on the right side, they’re failing to pickup blitzes properly, his wide receivers aren’t even looking for the ball at times and when they are they cannot get separation, and he’s down to running back number four and five, but through it all, Colt just doesn’t have that ability. As many have noted, McCoy is undoubtedly tough for all he’s endured so far this year, but that’s a trait you can admire in a backup quarterback, not a guy that should be the most important guy on the roster. McCoy finished 14-of-22 for 146 yards with the one touchdown toss late to Josh Cribbs and one interception. McCoy spent the entire day running for his life and took several vicious hits with linebackers and safeties going through the line untouched with a head of steam built up. My assumption that continues to become more and more concrete each week is that even with his starting running backs, a better right tackle, capable deep threats who could get separation, and a better offensive system, Colt McCoy would still struggle.
As expected, the running game was a challenge. The sign of things to come on the day was Chris Ogbonnaya’s first carry and the Browns’ first play from scrimmage that resulted in a lost fumble which set up the Texans’ second score and a 14-0 lead just eight minutes into the game. Ogbonnaya’s longest run of the day was 10 yards, and he finished with just 28 yards on 13 carries, adding one catch for 13 yards. The newly signed Thomas Clayton ran four times for 10 yards. The offensive line was so putrid that I doubt Hillis or Hardesty would’ve fared much better in this one.
Remember that defense that I was hyping up as recently as yesterday afternoon? Well, it shows what I know. The Browns’ defense has been and continues to be put in tough spots by the offense (see: Obie fumble), but that opening drive where the Texans marched down the field for a touchdown in just over five minutes had nothing to do with fatigue or field position. The Texan running backs were getting 6 or 7 yards upfield all game long before a hand was laid on them. In the case of second-stringer Ben Tate, he took that contact 7 yards down the field and was pushing safeties forward for extra yardage. Usama Young is not a starting caliber safety, not on a good team anyway. Young put a hit on Tate as he was going out of bounds for a six yard gain, and on the very next play, he whiffed as Tate scampered for a 27-yard touchdown run for the first points of the game. Tate ran for 115 yards and the one score, and Arian Foster added 124 yards and a touchdown of his own.
How many sacks did the Browns have you ask? ZERO. ZERO! Not one sack of the relatively stationary Matt Schaub. The defensive line not only got swallowed up by the Texans O-line as mentioned above, but they made it so easy for Schaub that he could’ve easily led the offense from the comfort of a recliner. Schaub threw for just 119 yards, but why throw when you can gash a team for over 250 yards on the ground? When he did throw, he had plenty of time and spread the ball, with tight end Owen Daniels leading the team with 3 catches and 32 yards receiving.
As if the game itself weren’t bad enough, a host of injuries hit the Browns as T.J. Ward injured his hand and missed time in the first half, Mohammed Massaquoi exited with illness, Kaluka Maiava left with another knee injury, and Tony Pashos was replaced by Artis Hicks due to a knee injury.
The Browns and McCoy, as they usually do, did a little stat padding and damage control late as they got in the endzone on a 2-yard toss to Josh Cribbs. Colt posted 57 of those 146 pass yards on the final drive with the Texans in full prevent defense mode.
I’d address Shurmur’s post-game press conference, but it was nothing but marshmallow flattery of the Texans on both sides of the ball, repeated defense of Colt’s performance despite no specifics or evidence, and outright refusal to address any miscues of any of his players. Stay tuned to the Tumblr feed as Scott will be gathering specific quotes, but to be honest, I had zero use for any of them. I’ve never heard someone say so little with so many words before.
The Browns are now 3-5, their offense is a repetitive, ineffective joke, and the defense is now tripping up. Some patience is required, but some deficiencies and lack of preparations cannot go excused. The Texans are good, but the Browns have played better teams tougher this season.
Where do we go from here? I just don’t know, and clearly, right now, neither does Pat Shurmur.
Stay tuned for more coverage and reaction tomorrow.
(Photo: David J. Phillip)