Reporting Jeff Phelps
Thoughts as I watch the Browns play the Colts in Indianapolis…
Sunshine on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. Can you say retractable?
I started Eli Manning over Andrew Luck on my main fantasy team today. Judging from the Colts opening drive, I believe I’ve made a colossal mistake. Luck throws. Luck runs. Luck scores. So much for the defense setting a good tone in this one. 7-0 Colts on a great opening drive.
Greg Little’s hands may be a work in progress. But he just caught a zippy pass from Brandon Weeden with his arms extended, nothing but hands. Nice catch. Sorry Little haters, but I think the guy is going to develop into a serious offensive threat. He’s big, fast and strong. He runs well with the ball. He’s in his second year, and just his third as a full-time receiver. All that doesn’t add up to a guy that Browns fans should be writing off already.
Weeden’s nice pass for a touchdown to Ben Watson called back because of an awful pass interference penalty on Josh Cribbs. I thought the replacement refs had all been executed by Roger Goodell.
Remember the earlier comment about Greg Little? Guys who can’t play don’t make catches like the one Little just made in the end zone for the Browns first score of the game. Sorry Little haters, but I think the guy can play. If you don’t want to be patient, and let the guy develop a little bit, that’s your loss, and you should also question your football intelligence.
Perhaps Little should hold for extra points. Reggie Hodges couldn’t handle the snap – no extra point. I know that punters handle snaps often because of practice time – they’re available when quarterbacks and other offensive players are busy. Always made sense to me to have the QBs or even the receivers handle the snaps. They’re used to having the ball. But what do I know. 7-6 Colts.
T.J. Ward just made a terrific play, knocking down a Luck pass intended for Reggie Wayne near the end zone. This is a critical year for Ward. He appears to have the physical traits that you want in a safety – good size, big hitter, physical presence in the middle of the field with good speed. But it’s time he becomes the defensive force the Browns need at safety.
Colts with a 14-play drive and Andrew Luck with his second rushing touchdown. Two possessions,s two touchdowns for the Colts. That’s not a good ratio for the defense, Browns fans.
Richardson looks like a guy who is still trying to figure out, “where is my flank, what is my flank, and why does it hurt?” Doesn’t seem to have a lot of spunk today.
14-6 Colts at halftime.
What a snazzy drive by the Browns to start the half. Weeden makes a very good throw to Josh Gordon for a 33-yard touchdown. Real nice grab by Gordon. Like Little, Gordon is young, developing and deserves a little patience from Browns fans, and Browns coaches for that matter. But he looks like he be good. Very good. Browns down 14-13.
Weeden looks like a guy who can make all the throws. He’s not John Elway, but he’s mobile enough, and he’s athletic enough. Those aren’t issues. He has to develop the ability to make big plays, especially in the 4th quarter. I think he has the chance to do it, and to become a Top 10 NFL quarterback.
Trent Richardson not in the game. Probably not a god sign, considering the injury and these stats – 8 carries for 8 yards.
Browns defense isn’t playing poorly – Colts aren’t lighting up the scoreboard. But the Indy offense seems to have been on the field an awful lot today. Colts put together another nice drive and get a field goal. 17-13 Indy.
Shot of Jimmy Haslam watching the game. He’s wearing yet another orange tie. If it makes Jimmy happy to sport team colors, good for him. I never cared if the owner was wearing team colors or not. Jimmy’s other favorite team – the Tennessee Volunteers – also wears orange. So I’m guessing Jimmy didn’t have to run out and add to the wardrobe when he bought the Browns.
I can only assume that the Browns Deep Thinkers don’t have much confidence in the running game today, because they aren’t running much. Yes, Richardson is out, but the Colts defense gave up 161 yards rushing to Shonn Greene of the Jets last week, and are 30th in the NFL in rushing defense.
Opportunity just knocked. Sheldon Brown just swiped the ball from Luck. Browns ball with 7:25 left.
Yikes! 3rd and 1, Weeden cranks it up deep and Gordon drops a perfect pass at the goal line. Complain about the play call on a 3rd and 1, but if Gordon catches the pass, Pat Shurmur is an aggressive, offensive genius. He made similar play calls last week and they worked.
After a timeout, Shurmur decides to punt on 4th down. CBS cameras show Haslam, making a face as if someone nearby just cut some very ripe cheese, if you know what I mean.
Now a replay of the Gordon drop, Haslam throwing his hands around in disgust. Oh boy, is this going to be fun.
Browns defense holds the Colts to a 3-and-out, and they punt the ball away. Shurmur makes the right call on the 4th down? Browns get the ball back with 4:08 to play. How’s that cheese now Jimmy?
4th and 6, 1:57 left. This time Shurmur goes for it. Weeden throws to a well-covered Josh Coper. Incomplete. Again, if it works, Pat is a genius. It didn’t. Since his defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown since the middle of the 2nd quarter, I would have punted.
But, the botched extra point early on put the Browns in the situation of needing a touchdown, not a field goal. Probably made a difference in Shurmur’s thinking on this one.
17-13 final. Browns go to 1-6. I thought they’d win this game, and they had every chance to get their second straight victory. Weeden had a pretty strong game, didn’t throw an interception and wasn’t sacked. But the Browns ran the ball just 17 times against the 30th ranked rushing defense in the league. Interesting.
The young wide receivers played very well, if we could only ignore the drop of what could have been a game-winning touchdown pass by Josh Gordon. Horrible goof. Can’t blame it on youth. He just dropped it. It happens, especially when your team has to play a near perfect football game to beat anybody. And the Browns didn’t.=