Progress is a Low Bar for Browns Fans

If yesterday’s win over the Jaguars proved anything at all it is that Browns fans are very reasonable.  I know I have been preaching patience all season, much to the chagrin of many.  I have been very critical of Pat Shurmur’s offense, but when my conclusion turns to, “But they still have time to figure it out” a lot of you would groan and get mad at me.  I understand why.  We were promised competent offense in such a way that in most of our minds it would render the last few years of video evidence obsolete.  Then, when it looked like a lot more of the same with short passes failing to convert on third down and a quarterback running for his life, it was only too easy to fear another extended stay in Stinktown for Browns fans.

And then the Browns finally started showing some competence.  Despite being derailed by injuries to Peyton Hillis and realizing that it wasn’t Brian Daboll’s fault after-all that Brian Robiskie is Brian Robiskie, the Browns started to play decent offense.  They didn’t explode the scoreboard and they weren’t exactly playing the greatest teams in the world.  Still, the Browns found some chemistry and a bit of a comfort zone moving the ball the last two weeks in a loss to the Rams and yesterday’s win over Jacksonville.

It wasn’t without compromise.  Colt McCoy was finally dropped into the shotgun a bit more.  Pat Shurmur had to run the play where Alex Smith motions back into the offset fullback spot half as much as he did in prior weeks (thank goodness.)  It just goes to show how low the bar is for Browns fans to perceive progress.

Browns fans would like nothing more than the disappearance of hack fake statistics that all the Browns beat reporters like to invent to talk about touchdown droughts.  It even got so bad yesterday that they were all tweeting about the Browns losing 10 coin tosses this season.  Talk about an unnecessary and silly way to “capitalize” on the fake curse story-line regarding Cleveland sports.

And by the way, did you know it has been 734 minutes of game time since the Browns scored a touchdown at home?  Yes, that is a fake stat, but reporters were only having all too much fun converting that to other units to try to make it funny or sad or interesting or something.  I’m still not quite sure what the point is.  It is football’s version of saying a guy who hits a home run in the first game of the season is on-pace for 162 homers this season! *** (Bwahahahaha!)

Point being that all it takes is two touchdowns in a game and some of the negative things become a distant memory because they are as unimportant as they should be.  Even without a win, the first quarter scoring drought wouldn’t have seemed nearly as important if the Browns were putting the ball in the end zone on occasion in their losses.  Or even just moving the ball consistently with legitimate looking plays.  So much of this is about passing the subjective eye test.  The Browns have been doing that for the past two weeks.  That is good enough for most fans right now.

*** Yes, I’ve probably done it too.  I’m not proud of it.  I won’t do it again.

  • MrCleaveland

    Factory of Gladness.

  • jimkanicki

    i say: LOAD UP.

  • Kevin Wagner

    Great article as always Craig… I told my brother on the way home from the game… “all I want them to do is look good”… 14 points wasn’t as many as I’d like but it felt like a lot more than 14 and that’s what counts to us

  • C-Bus Kevin

    I’m a little confused by this post. Are you saying the Browns are making progress? Are you saying Browns fans think the team is making progress?

    I would say that the team progressed, because they won. I’m still hoping for single digits in the loss column this year. To me, that would be improvement, especially because it would mean they beat a couple division rivals along the way. In the end, 0-6 against the division does not sound acceptable to me.

  • Chris

    I know it was probably because the Jaguar defense wasn’t very good, but they didn’t get to McCoy very much yesterday.

    That doesn’t make me feel good about the O-Line, but it gave us a glimpse of what McCoy might look like when the O-line is good enough to adequately protect him. Which, IMO, was entirely serviceable bordering on very good. Add some playmaking wide receivers, and I definitely like what I saw.

    So, here’s hoping we shore up our offensive line this off season.

  • C-Bus Kevin


    That’s great! But why not at least lay down $100 for the chance to win $500k? It’s the only sensible thing to do. Ha!

  • 216in614
  • I wouldn’t say they’ve made progress officially. Let’s be honest. J’Ville is not good. I’m saying all they had to do was look this good more times than not this season, which they haven’t.

  • jimkanicki

    @cbus-k, 6: i need to spread the action across multiple books so as not to affect the line. if word breaks that ‘kanicki is going heavy on browns super bowl’ all hell will break loose.


  • oribiasi

    The issue is between what was “promised” by the organization and what has happened on the field. A few days ago we all had a discussion that centered around what is said by the team and what we should “take it with,” i.e., a grain of salt, a bucket of salt, an ocean of salt, etc.

    Therefore, when I see that this offense was “supposed” to be competent, I struggle, because it was more or less decided a few days ago by the “calmer, smarter” fans here that we shouldn’t just take what anyone in Berea tells us truth.

    We can’t selectively apply this axiom, so should we also discount what we were told before the year started?

    It is also worth noting, I think, that the offensive progress we have seen over the past two weeks is (1) against weaker teams, although Jacksonville did perform rather well against a very difficult schedule and (2) that progress has come at the expense of 8 weeks worth of garbage game-planning/play calling from Pat Shurmur. The only instances of progress we have seen would seem to be exactly contra his original “game plan” that he tried to jam into the round hole for 8 weeks. When I, and many other fans I know, were livid about it.

    Going forward, this will be a very rough upcoming set of games. We will play some incredibly difficult opponents who will not fall for trick plays and pin their ears back against Colt. If they knock him out (and Jacksonville almost did), we will be lucky to get back to 5-11 this year. I think a realistic record is 6-10 for us. I’d love for us to win one of the four games between Baltimore/Pittsburgh.

  • I shudder at the thought of getting into a long conversation about this.

    The point was that we fans are mostly a reasonable bunch. We were promised competent offense. The injuries struck and I think most of us adjusted our expectations accordingly. The point was that they only had to look this good or something approximating what they’ve done the last two weeks against weaker teams to give us positive signs.

    I’ve never once stated that the Browns have delivered enough so far this season. I’ve been critical of Shurmur and Heckert. I can be both critical and patient though.

    For me, the problem always comes with trying to draw hard, fast conclusions prematurely. I can’t stand when some conclude that Pat Shurmur is never going to be an NFL caliber head coach because he and his team stumbled out of the gate. Nobody knows right now and anyone who says they do from a similar vantage point to what I have is guessing.

  • jimkanicki

    what i think may be the case is that the patchwork o-line is getting their assignments squared away. ie, they know what theyre supposed to do.

    same on the d-line. i recall earlier in the year that taylor and mitchell were screwing up their stunts and taking each other out of plays. they were being blocked by one guard. also sheard was taking himself out of plays with some very wide passrush routes. i havent noticed this recently.

    in short, the line play shows progress. this might not translate into lots of points immediately. we’ll see this week against cincinnati if the is better or if its been the beneficiary of weak opposition. i’m curiously optimistic that it is the former.

  • stin4u

    I’ll take it. It’s a win, and Jacksonville is ranked 3rd in total defense. It’s not like everyone on the other side of the ball were schlubs.

  • I agree with Jim. I am encouraged by the last few weeks, but knowing it is weak competition I am waiting to see what it looks like this week against Cincy.

  • A stat that surprised me when I saw it yesterday was where the Browns ranked on 3rd down conversion %. I don’t remember the exact % or rank but it was in the top 8 in the league. Why local reporters aren’t throwing that stat out is also part of the problem with the media.

    I would also like to know how many games this offensive line has played together for an entire game. You see around the league O-lines coming together just from game repetitions.

  • Matt

    @jimkanicki #12

    I think you’re right about the O-Line. I noticed Mack pointing out assignments a lot more pre-snap than I have in the past.

  • oribiasi

    @ stin4u: Just remember, we were once ranked 4th in defense too.

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    They do look a little better, but 14 points is still 14 points. I am not convinced we can call it progress on offense until they play some better teams. Also, 14 points looks so much better when the defense only gives up 10. Give up 17, and the offensive “progress” is cast in a whole other light as perhaps a side comment in another depressing Browns game recap as baby steps, not progress.

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    Sorry, to get to the point Craig, I guess Im saying my bar isnt set that low. I’d like more and I think we should all expect the same. If we were going to start off this season this poorly, I wouldve expected this sort of progress 2-3 games ago, not 10 games in.

  • Hell, I’m still trying to figure out what happened between the Pre-Season and now. I know they’ve had some unexpected injuries. The games are hard to watch at times. Hopefully they can give the Steelers & Ravens some hell in the 2nd half of the season.

  • Joseph

    I am honestly shocked that we are about more than likely one missed FG away from being 5-5. As horrible as this team has looked at times that right there simply stuns me.

  • Big Z

    I have absolutely no problem with the Browns offense looking competent against a bad team. You have to start somewhere, and you have to find a way to win at home.

    I’m especially proud of Colt McCoy for making some sound decisions and strong throws in this game. I’m sure he mainly has “Oby” to thank. I realize he threw yet another red zone INT, but at least it wasn’t into double coverage as per the norm.

    Thank you Pat Shurmur for sticking with the run and not calling ridiculous plays.

    Although I’ve already written them off as backups, I’m looking forward to seeing if Pinkston and Lavao can have strong showings against any of the teams in the AFC North.

  • paulbip

    this game was one running play away from a loss.

  • TikiHat

    @Paul: We were also 2 inches from a 10 point lead at that point.

    Seriously, we did see improvement. Our O-Line opened up enough hole for Chris Oby to run for more than 100 yards. It certainly looked better than when Hillis and Hardesty were having to break tackles one step after getting the handoff in the backfield. Cribbs and Little are also looking much more confident and competent as receivers. Colt looks more confident in them as receivers. Lastly, Pat Shurmur seems to be growing more confident in the competence of our Offense as a whole. Many were complaining about his playcalling earlier this season; but realistically just how many plays could he call with a patchwork Line, a Rookie Lead Receiver, and a starting running back who had only seen the playbook for 5 days? You gotta learn to stand on skates before you try a triple toe loop.