INDIANAPOLIS (92.3 The Fan) – The Browns second half rally fell short at Lucas Oil Stadium and with that they fell to 0-3 with a 31-28 loss to the Colts.
And this was 1 of few games this season that they were supposed to be able to win, and they were almost blown out.
After the game head coach Hue Jackson sang the usual song and dance about trying to win, but it continues to be more of the same with a young football team that right now has no idea how to win.
Penalties, dropped passes, critical interceptions, blown defensive assignments and early deficits continue to plague this team and they led to their demise yet again Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis.
What To Like
Don’t Give Up – After falling behind 28-7 the Browns managed to regroup in the second half and outscore the Colts 21-3 down the stretch. Unfortunately it was too little too late. After getting blow-torched in the first half for 28 points and 260 yards, Gregg Williams’ unit gave up just 3 points and 75 yards of offense in the second half which gave the offense a chance to rally. But lets be honest, the moral victories are getting old already.
DeShone Kizer – The numbers don’t support feeling good about Kizer but Kizer can’t do anything about at least 6 dropped balls or receivers not being where they are supposed to be. Or penalties that wipe out big plays and kill drives. Both happened Sunday, again. Ricardo Louis, who was targeted 6 times, had at least 3 of the drops. Tight end Seth DeValve dropped a ball that hit him in the hands and Kenny Britt, who was targeted a team-high 10 times, was responsible for at least 1 drop and an interception. Kizer showed tremendous poise to hang in there in the second half despite throwing 3 interceptions, 2 of them that stymied the comeback attempt by ending drives.
Duke Johnson – It was a matter of time for Duke to bust loose but he did Sunday. Johnson led the team in receptions with 6 and receiving yards with 81. He also rushed for 23 yards and his first touchdown of the season marking the third time Johnson has totaled at least 100 yards from scrimmage in a game. Maybe he’ll get used more going forward.
What Not To Like
Stone Hands – Nothing kills momentum like dropped passes do and nothing stunts the growth of a young quarterback than a lousy supporting cast. Receivers Ricardo Louis, Rashard Higgins and Kenny Britt combined to be targeted 22 times and combined to catch just 6 footballs. Louis, who dropped 3 balls, was flagged twice for offensive pass interference as was Higgins, who also dropped 1 pass.
“I think the game would have gone a lot different if we would have executed every play,” Britt said. “I know (the receivers) can play at a higher level to tell you the truth. We’ve got to go out there and make plays for our quarterback.”
It should be noted that Britt hauled in a beautiful 38-yard strike from Kizer up the sideline and later in the second half he made a spectacular 1-handed catch while being interfered with in the end zone for his first TD as a Brown but it wasn’t enough.
“It’s very tough, man, because you’re just missing plays and leaving plays on the field,” Louis said. “But that just means we’ve got to get back to work. That’s all that means.”
The 4 OPI flags on the Browns had to be a first in history – and 2 of them wiped out big gains: a 25-yard completion to tight end Seth DeValve on their second possession and a 17-yard completion to DeValve on their second drive of the third quarter.
“I need to go back and see those,” Jackson said. “We run the same crossing routes as everybody else in the league does.”
DeValve also dropped a ball and caught 2 of his 5 targets for 29 yards.
The First Half Defense – 28 points, 260 yards. It couldn’t get much uglier for the Browns than that first half down 21 points. Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton had 5 catches for 145 yards and a touchdown, quarterback Jacoby Brissett carved them for 206 yards a touchdown and he ran for 2 more scores – all before intermission.
“It’s disappointing,” Jackson said. “That’s a guy we targeted. We want to shut [Hilton] down. We did not do that.”
Broken Angel Wings – Browns rookie safety Jabrill Peppers continued to play ‘angel’ where he lined up 25-35 yards away from the line of scrimmage and the Colts ran wild, especially in the first half. Gregg Williams’ philosophy of trying to prevent long balls and big pass plays with Peppers deep resulted in completions of 61 (TD), 34, 31, 25, 22, and 20 yards.
“We’ve gotta do a better job of covering their guys,” Pepper said. “I think [Hilton] had like 5 for like 130-something in the first half. Second half he didn’t have as big a game as he did in the first half, but you can’t have a half like that and expect to win the game.”
Peppers also whiffed on a tackle of Hilton that went for a 61-yard touchdown and he was called for a 34-yard pass interference on the next Colts possession that set up the fourth touchdown of the day and a 28-7 deficit.
More Of The Same – Vegas actually favored the Browns in Sunday’s game, and sure that has zero impact on the actual outcome but it was disappointing to see them boat-raced in the first half and trail by 21 before they came out of their coma in a game that was very much winnable.
At some point the Browns do need to start winning games, at least occasionally. Hue Jackson is now 1-18 as a head coach and based on the roster he’s been given, that’s not entirely on him. And it stands to reason it’s going to get worse before we get to January.
“I’m not throwing in the towel or anything,” Jackson said. “If anything I’m pissed off. We want to win, deserve to win but we gotta do the things that help you win.”
It’s hard to keep fans interested in a team that is 0-3 for the sixth time in 10 years with few signs of things getting better in the win-loss column anytime soon while young players take their lumps every week.