Browns, WFNY Roundtable

WFNY Roundtable: Taking Points Off the Board

Rick: Without turning this into a Shurmur discussion, I am interested to know everyone’s opinion on the Browns accepting the penalty on the made field goal today. The adage “you never take points off the board” is a fairly old and conservative one. It is exactly what went through my mind when I saw the flag fly on that play. For the sake of discussion, let’s use today’s game situation as our base.

The field goal is good, making the score Browns 10, Jaguars 7. There is 8:02 left in the third quarter. Accepting the penalty gives the Browns a first down at the 11 yard line.

Here is why I am more inclined to take the points. First off, it gives you the lead guaranteed. Points were hard to come by in the first half, The Browns have also struggled to get a lead in games lately. Factor in the Browns’ deficiencies in the red zone, and I think I would have stuck to the adage and kept those points on the board.

Jacob: With this team, with this offense and with these running backs – no offense to Ogbonayya after his 15 minutes of fame – you have to take the points. It’s as simple as that really. We knew from the start this was going to be a race to see whoever got about 14 points first just to win. A close call, and one that’s dependent upon this current offense, but yeah I’d take the points too. Give me MJD and I’d take the penalty.

Scott: Taking the points would have shown an insane lack of trust in a young, developing offense. I think whether or not Shurmur had faith in them is one thing; to not even give them the chance to fail on their own is another.

Sure, in this case, worst-case scenario happened. Nine other times out of ten, they either score a touchdown or settle for a field goal with one of the most accurate kickers olin the history of the game.

A minute left in the half? Maybe take the points. Any other scenario, I think Shurmur didn’t just make the right call, it was the only call.

DP: I think when your team’s 3-6 and there’s nothing at stake, you take the points off the board and try to punch it in. At the 11 yard line, the chances are better than average that you’re going to get at least another crack at a (one would hope) pretty makable field goal. I don’t put the INT on Shurmur. I put it on Colt for making a horrible read/throw. I never hesitated in wanting them to take the first down and keep driving. It was only after the INT that people in the bar I was at starting complaining about the decision. Hindsight has a way of making everyone experts.

Andrew: In my opinion, the ineptitude of the Browns offense is precisely why taking the points off the board was exactly the right thing to do. Having the ball at the 11 yard line is a luxury to this team and any time they have a chance to have a first down from the 11, I’m all for it. Sure, a turnover or missed FG is always a possibility, but when taking risk vs reward for a 3-6 team going nowhere with nothing to lose, I think the risk was worth it. I personally would have been shocked and outraged had the Browns declined the penalty and would have seen it as Coach Shurmur giving up on this team, and that’s unacceptable no matter how bleak things can get.

Craig: It didn’t even occur to me that it should not be an option to not take the first down. Unless they were going to be up against it with the clock as Scott said, I don’t think there really was any other option. Even if you don’t have the offense to do it, it is the right way to play. In order to develop a team, you have to be willing to put them in the right situations even if they fall flat on their faces.

When people mention the record, they usually want the team to do something outlandish like go for it on 3rd and 14. “What do they have to lose?” That is silly. Equally silly though, would be not going for a touchdown when gifted the opportunity because you don’t believe in your offense and “You’re 3-6. Take the points!”

Kirk: The only thought I gave the decision was “this will probably backfire”. I think it was the right call though. The onus is on Colt not to make such an ill advised throw. Scoring was at a premium but a three point lead in the third quarter wasn’t going to be something insurmountable. This offense above all needs confidence and keeping the three there would’ve squashed it. Worst case, Phil should’ve been re-kicking three plays later.

Rick: I think a little too much is being made about showing confidence in Colt, or the offense in general. The Browns didn’t run the ball three straight times up the middle to set up field goal attempt. They drove the ball down the field, (albeit aided by a big pass interference) and then stalled. They were even attempting to throw for a first down or touchdown when Colt got sacked on third down.

Colt has been around football his whole life, with his dad coaching. If you turn to him on the sidelines and say “I’m not taking points off the board”, I bet that’s a concept he’s heard of before. The offense moved the ball and got a lead. I don’t think they’d be scarred.

Scott: In a vacuum, yes, too much is being made about the confidence issue, but you have to almost take a step back and realize that this season is about development more than it is winning. If it was about winning, the team wouldn’t have been rid of all 30-plus players.

You have to see what you have. Sure, one play wont exactly move the morale needle, but the macro decision to give him three more tries speaks volumes.

So how about you WFNY readers? Would you have taken the points off the board?

  • EZ

    Regardless of record, regardless of how we’ve been playing, regardless of our need to develop young players/build confidence, I think taking 1st down at the 11 was a great call. I’m not saying you make that decision every time you’re in that situation, but I love the aggressiveness of it.

    I also thought Sean Peyton on-side kicking to start the 2nd half of the Superbowl was awesome, and Belichick going for it on 4th down rather than punting to Payton Manning was correct.

    Can’t always play conservative. Sometimes you need to just go for it.

  • Harv 21

    As one of our former coaches once said, “you learn to run the ball by running the ball.” In other words, you learn to score TDs in games by trying to do that in games.

    In a playoff hunt year, or in a game where my team might pull a big upset and get a shot of confidence I take the points. This year, if you’re developing, teaching, trying to figure out what players can do, if you’re a coach in the first year of your contract, go for it.

  • ben

    Take the points off the board. We aren’t playing for anything but pride at this point, and it is more shameful to walk away with 3 points when you have a great opportunity to score 6 presented to you on a silver platter.

  • Lyon

    i’m with the above posts. Go for the TD. Hell, the worst situation happened & we still pulled it out. It even allowed Colt to make a terrible play, learn from it, and lead another TD drive afterwords. That might be the biggest factor of taking points off the board; it oculd lead to a better Colt.

  • Swig

    Except at the end of the game (or maybe end of a half after making a long FG) I would always take the points off the board.

    Aggression is generally the right decision, you just have to deal with the variance and hindsight analysis when things don’t go your way.

  • Andrew

    So we should kick field goals on first down in the future if we are close enough, that way we can for sure score? This is the worst debate I’ve heard in a long time.

    No team in the NFL would take the field goal in that situation. It’s literally a no-brainer.

  • Swig

    From last year, but almost the exact situation (with the same result)

  • Yes Andrew, that’s exactly what I said. If we earn a first down near the goal line we should just automatically kick it.


  • Matt

    What is the point expectancy? My assumptions here are only of the educated guess variety, but kicking nets 2.95 points on average while going for it has to net considerably more. Even the lowly Browns probably get the TD 10% of the team, successfully kick 85% of the time and fail to score 5% of the time. That’s 3.25 expected points, .3 more.

    No idea where to find the real data, but I would guess with average matchups, the TD likelihood is much higher, increasing the value of going for it even more.

  • BrownsFanSF

    @ Lyon – Couldn’t have said it better. 100% agree

  • 216in614

    It seemed like a no brain-er to me. You take the first down. The fact that browns fans are trying to criticize Shurmur for it just shows Clevelanders have it out for him.

  • 216in614

    In football the point is to score touchdowns. Field goals are just consolation prizes.

  • Eric D

    As soon as the penalty happened, my friend sitting next to me leaned over and said “we are going to regret taking points off the board” I wanted to punch him in the nose when Colt threw that pick.

    But really, you absolutely have to take the penalty and try to punch it in. I hope that there wasn’t more than half a second to decide on the sideline. I’d like to see Football Outsiders or somebody crunch the numbers, but you’d imagine that first down from the 11 (or any first down for that matter) is worth the risk of taking the points off.

    Unless it’s the waning moments and you are taking tying or go ahead points off, you put your foot on the gas and go for the throat.

  • jimkanicki

    i’m with rick on this. did not want points taken off the board.

    i’d love to see a statistic on this but it seems like the probably up turnover goes up 10x after taking points off the board. makes no sense, but that’s how it feels to me.

    moveover, i dont know but suspect that the ‘i dont want to be crucified by fans and media’ aspect overrode shurmur’s coaching instinct. seemed (to me and maybe me only) to be a bit of a c-y-a move. im probably reading too much into this.

  • David

    (Editor’s note: comments like this could get you banned. Blatant name-calling is in our comment terms. Read them.) You are an idiot. You have to take the penalty. 1st & goal at the 11!!!! For you to decline that penalty shows that you have absolutely no faith in your offense whatsoever. What team in the NFL doesn’t want first down at the 11? If you think this team as degenerated to the point that we should kick field goals on first down whenever we get close enough, QUIT WATCHING! YOU ARE NOT A FAN!!!

  • Bill

    I know people will say that you can’t take into account the record, building confidence, that the decision is the same regardless. I politely disagree with those people. All last week we talked about how Shurmur didn’t trust Colt and the offense to put the game away. We complained that he was too conservative. Now some are on the other side saying to stay conservative. I agree with the call made, and especially considering we are a full 3 games back in our division, still needing to play Pittsburgh and Baltimore twice, if there is any chance (and personally I don’t think there is) you have to gamble and do everything you can to win. If the same situation arises next week in Cincinnati, or even in Baltimore or Pittsburgh, I hope Shurmur does the same thing. Have confidence in your team and your offense. Our Browns may not be a top ranked offense, but if the coaches call the game like a team that can’t put the ball in the endzone, they never will.

  • jimkanicki

    aw man.
    and ive been trying really hard to be a fan for so long too.
    this is a bummer.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    It was definitely the right call. The only way you don’t get points out of 1st down at the 11 is a missed/botched FG or a turnover. Both of those are pretty unlikely. (This is coming from a fan of a team that has managed to do both in the past two weeks…hahaha.)

  • B-bo

    The decision was the right one in a season where we aren’t playing for anything beyond pride and experience. But, like Kirk, my immediate reaction was, “Nothing good can come of this”. McCoy has to be smarter with the ball in that situation and at least get Dawson another shot at it.

  • I’m glad most people are for taking the points off the board. You have to believe that you can score a TD and if you can’t you settle for another FG try. They’re not going to the playoffs, so they might as well go for it.

    And, I know for a fact that if Shurmur had declined the penalty and settled for the FG he would have been skinned alive for the decision.