Reporting Daryl Ruiter
BEREA (923TheFan) – The Browns have moved on.
The team has officially put the debacle in the opener behind them and is now looking ahead to Sunday’s game at Indianapolis.
Much of the focus following the loss to the Bengals has been on the defensive gaffe; however the offense had issues of its own against Cincinnati.
Correcting those problems begins this week at practice for Coach Pat Shurmur.
“In practice what you work on is the general efficiency of your plays,” Shurmur said. “Everything from staying onside to the right usage of the snap count to the execution of the blocking scheme, the throw and catch and the run.
“The emphasis goes there and typically you get what you emphasize.”
It wasn’t all bad offensively Sunday – just three quarters of it was.
Colt McCoy and the Browns put up 14 quick points in the second quarter that included a 34-yard touchdown strike to Ben Watson and a 56-yard completion on a roll out to Mohamed Massaquoi that led to another score.
So what about the first, third and fourth quarters – why so discombobulated?
“You’re never going to play a perfect game and there’s always going to be mistakes,” McCoy said. “I think the big thing for us right now is nobody is in panic mode. We played a bad game. We didn’t play as well as we wanted to and we know we can play better and we’ve got a tough opponent in Indianapolis.”
One of the glaring imperfections last Sunday were penalties. 11 of them to be exact including several false starts.
“If you have penalties and long third down situations your percentage of making those third downs goes down,” Shurmur said. “You don’t get as many plays as you would if you’re moving the football like we did in the middle part of the game.
“We had efficient runs in that part of the game and I think that’s important. You’ve got to stay ahead of the downs and get into manageable third down situations.”
McCoy was an unimpressive 19-of-40 against the Bengals and spent the better part of the afternoon on the run or going 3 and out.
“There were some of those (plays) where you said ‘my goodness,’” Shurmur said. “He’s no different than anybody. What we’re trying to build here are guys that are willing to say ‘you know what I’ve got to play better.’”
Peyton Hillis ran for 57 yards on 17 carries and also led the team with 6 catches for 30 yards. It is a delicate balancing act with Hillis not to lean on him too much or revolve the entire offense around him.
“I think we need to establish that,” McCoy said. “Again, it’s collectively as a whole with offense, defense and special teams, we all watched the tape together and we see it. That is, in a way, good for us to know we are a lot better than the way we played, we just have to go do it.”
Hillis has help in the backfield with Montario Hardesty healthy – so we are told. Hardesty carried the ball just five times against the Bengals but his workload will increase according to Shurmur.
“Peyton Hillis is our starting runner,” Shurmur said. “You’d like to see that he gets the football a bunch of times. I think that Montario did some good things for his first real stretch back. Each day, in my opinion, he looks better and better running.”
One thing that Shurmur is trying to figure out is ball distribution to the receiving corps. Massaquoi, Ben Watson and Evan Moore were tied for second in team receptions in the box score with three catches each.
Two of them are tight ends.
“I think we’re learning about the receivers,” Shurmur said. “Even though you see them operate in practice and in preseason games I’m getting a better feel for those guys now that we’ve seen one real game.”
The offensive line is a major problem – especially the right side.
Shurmur said Tony Pashos likely will not play against the Colts so the rotation at right tackle of Oniel Cousins and Artis Hicks will continue. Neither did much against the Bengals to distinguish themselves in a positive way.
“You always want to settle on starters at all positions – same with the tackle,” Shurmur said. “I felt like that they both did things that it was about even in terms of their performance. Until we get a guy that’s going to become that guy, it could happen soon that this is going to be the starter, and I’ll make you aware of that when it happens.”
Hopefully that happens soon.