Cleveland actually isn’t in that bad of shape. They’re 2-3 whereas the last two seasons they never even came close to .500 ball. The defense is playing well and is improving. Even Colt McCoy has a 78 QB rating which, while nothing to brag about, is a big improvement over the single digit performances put up by Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn.
But let’s be honest, they have the look of a team that’s headed for another 6-10 or 5-11 season. A lot of fingers are being pointed but the blame falls firmly on the coaches.
Simply put they aren’t running the ball enough. Through 5 games Peyton Hillis has only 60 carries. Montario Hardesty has only 40. Head Coach Pat Shurmur seems to be allergic to pounding the rock. Look at this break down of each week and it gets worse and worse
Week 1 vs Bengals 68 Plays 26 Rush attempts.
Week 2 vs Colts 67 Plays 34 Rush attempts.
Week 3 vs. Dolphins 58 Plays 19 Rush attempts.
Week 4 vs. Titans 87 Plays 22 Rush attempts.
Week 6 vs. Raiders 68 Plays 21 Rush attempts.
Not surprisingly Cleveland’s biggest victory featured them running the ball slightly over 50% of the time. Since then the Browns haven’t rushed more than 35% of their plays.
That’s just bad coaching and worse play calling. Rich Gannon kept talking Sunday about the Browns having no offensive rhythm. Well unless you’re Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers you’re NEVER going to get an offensive rhythm throwing the ball 65-70% of the time. It makes less sense when you consider that McCoy is in his second year, pass protection has been a little shaky and the Browns receivers aren’t an explosive group.
It seems like just basic football, keep pounding the football, protect McCoy and wear down defenses in the fourth quarter. They did that in Indy and it worked. They haven’t gone back to it since then. It shouldn’t matter that Peyton Hillis has been hurt and/or in the middle of a contract dispute. The Browns should be planning to run the ball at least 50% of the time regardless. Even if you only average 2 yards a carry, 40 carries a game still gets you 80 yards which is about what Cleveland is averaging anyway.