Found October 11, 2011 on Waiting For Next Year:
Green_bay_packers_57a5

As expected (hoped?), the Cleveland Browns and head coach Pat Shurmur are using their extended time away from the playing field to do a bit of tinkering with rotations and play-calling.  While the obvious benefactor thus far is wide receiver Greg Little who was promoted to starting “X” receiver alongside Mohammed Massaquoi (replacing Brian Robiskie), another weapon for Colt McCoy will likely come in the form of additional snaps for tight end Evan Moore.

Moore, who had seen a considerable drop in snaps and targets over the past two games – leading to a bit of frustration following the loss to the Titans – appears to be in line for a reversion back to usage rates akin to the first two weeks of the season.  Given Shurmur’s words following Monday’s practice, it appears that not only will Robiskie see a decrease in snaps due to Little’s promotion, but the Browns could in turn use wide receivers even less than they have to this point. 

Truly, it comes down to pure math and the fact that the team would like to keep tight end Ben Watson on the field as much as possible.  See for yourself.

If Watson is a “three-down” receiving threat and the Browns will implement a three-receiver rotation between Massaquoi, Little and Cribbs, until the league allows the Browns a legal 12th man on offense, this leaves two on-field spots that will have to be shared by a receiver, Moore and a running back of choice – Peyton Hillis, anyone?

The team appears to be struggling with Moore and his lack of run-blocking; they do not want his insertion into a formation to signal to the opposition that a pass play is on its way.  This is where Alex Smith comes in – a superb blocker, Smith just leaves a lot to be desired in terms of receiving and (apparently) tackling.  The issue becomes whether Shurmur and his offense should pay the best players which could lead to the highest rate of success (i.e. Smith in run situations), or attempt to create mismatches which can lead to even bigger plays if executed correctly.

Splitting Moore out wide is an obvious option, negating any real liability on the blocking front and – more often than not – providing a mismatch with a small defensive back lined up across from the 6-foot-6-inch end.  Making Moore a part of two-end sets could provide a linebacker in coverage or confuse the opposing defense into thinking a pass is coming and allow for Hilis to do his thing on an unsuspecting front seven.  Throw motion into the mix and look out as Shurmur and Colt McCoy should have options galore, especially when teams combat No. 89 with a nickel back.

Naturally, Moore’s bread-and-butter resides in the red zone.  Unfortunately, it’s getting into said zone that has become a bit of an issue as of late.  Save for a huge drive against the Miami Dolphins and the garbage time touchdown to Watson against the Titans, it will be nearly three weeks since the Browns have had a successful, elongated drive.  Recall, both scores prior to Watson snag were huge field goals by Phil Dawson, both coming from way outside the 20-yard line.

Alas, whether Shurmur does have plans in place to get his playmakers involved or if this is merely coachspeak fueled by reporter questions remains to be seen.  The Browns will get back to work for the next several days before boarding the cross-country flight to Oakland where they will take on an emotionally-charged Raiders team; playing in the black hole will not help matters much.  Here’s hoping that Moore’s frustration last week comes with an ultimate reward.  That reward: a head coach who realizes what he has in his players and is willing to admit mistakes and make the necessary changes even if said change involves the demotion of a third-year, high-second-round receiver from The Ohio State University.

THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

Quarterly Review of Your 2011 Cleveland Browns, Sponsored by the Makers of Luminal

We’re four weeks into Pat Shurmur’s NFL head coaching career and the latest Browns reboot. And as much as patience is called for in times like these, you’ve really got no more to cling to for hope than you did before the season started (“West Coast Offense,” “philosophical unity,” “In Holmgren We Trust,” “pass the phenobarbital“). "More like 'pass...

With fans fretting, it's time for Pat Shurmur and Cleveland Browns to focus on winning: Bud Shaw

The Browns get a welcome chance to hit the reset button on a season that has failed to connect with a loyal but understandably impatient fan base, sports columnist Bud Shaw writes.

Will Shurmur Stop the Cleveland Coaching Carousel?

“Coaching matters.” According to former Brown Ross Tucker, that’s the primary difference between the 49ers of last season and the 2011 squad. Sitting at 4-1, San Francisco is just 2 wins shy of it’s total from last season. Last season the team leaders were Alex Smith in passing, Frank Gore in rushing and Vernon Davis in receiving. The exact same trio leads the team this year...

Browns Comment of the Day: Let the coach coach

"Pat Shurmur can't find the true identity of this team or his personnel because H & H are dictating to him what the identity of the Browns will be." -- garb

Cleveland Browns P.M. links: Streamlining of offensive 'skill position' personnel, plays and packages?

Pat Shurmur may have a better grasp of what the Browns have on offense after four games and the bye week.

WWBT: It's Offense, Really.

Browns head coach Pat Shurmur is true to his word. Following the bye-week, the Browns are incorporating WR's differently into the scheme, looking to get the ball out of McCoy's hands quicker, as well as finding some consistency.

Browns' Greg Little promoted to starter

BEREA Pat Shurmur said he was going to look at personnel groupings during the bye week and one of the first noticeable changes will be that rookie Greg Little is now officially a starting wide receiver. Greg Little has played over 200 snaps, but hes going to be the starter at the X spot, Shurmur said. Im optimistic about (Little) as we move forward. Little will replace Brian Robiskie...

Cleveland Browns A.M. Links: Break was good for Pat Shurmur; Greg Little shows promise; another curse; Dimitri Patterson is making a name for himself;

The bye week was especially good for Cleveland Browns coach Pat Shurmur.

Cleveland Browns react to Marcus Benard's season ending motorcycle accident (video)

Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur and players reacted for the first time to Marcus Benard's motorcycle accident which occurred Monday after practice.

Browns Rookie WR Greg Little Moved Into Starting Lineup Vs. Raiders

One of the most significant changes to come out of the bye week: Pat Shurmur will give rookie Greg Little a start as the X receiver. Little has played a lot, but has started only one game, catching 14 passes for 131 yards without a score. Now, he'll open games at the X -- split wide on the weak side -- and then move into the slot in three-receiver sets. "Greg has played...

Cleveland Browns – Greg Little-WR

Browns HC Pat Shurmur said rookie WR Greg Little will start at the "X" spot this week
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.