I told you we would have more about the Browns whether you liked it or not. Believe it or not, there is statistical proof available to show just how badly the Browns’ offense played in the second half. Apparently no matter what we do, it will turn into a raging debate about how hot Mangini and Daboll’s seats are. I will just remind everyone that this is a complex game. There are no easy answers. I will remind you that when Maurice Carthon
was fired had his resignation accepted the Browns were scoring an average of 14.67 points per game while going 1-5. After he was fired, the record was 3-7 the rest of the way as the Browns averaged 14.7 points per game. Do I regret the firing of Maurice Carthon mid-season? Not even a little. He should have been fired prior to that season starting. Anyway, on with the numbers.
The Browns ran the ball for 73 yards on 26 carries for a 2.8 yard average. At halftime that number was 57 yards on 19 attempts for a 3 yard average. In the first half, Peyton Hillis ran the ball 6 times for 34 yards. That is a four yard average and includes an average killing 1 yard touchdown run meaning that Hillis was even more effective than his yard per carry average would indicate. At the end of the game he had run the ball 8 times for 35 yards.
Meanwhile, Jerome Harrison had 11 carries for 28 yards in the first half and finished the game with 16 carries for 33 yards. Maybe at halftime the Browns should have decided to come out in the second half with the guy who was more productive carrying the ball rather than pump up Jerome Harrison’s attempts to start the second half? Harrison ran three out of the first six plays, and four if you count the pass to him. I like Jerome Harrison and I know what he is capable of after watching him a year ago. Still, after Harrison failed to gain any traction on the Browns’ first drive (not to mention the first half,) they went straight back to him on interior runs on first and second down from their own 20 yard line with a one point lead during the second drive of the second half.
Harrison goes five yards in two plays and finally the Browns go to Peyton Hillis with less than three minutes to go in the third quarter. Hillis converts on a 7 yard pass play on 3rd and 5. He then runs for 7 more yards on first down. The drive is stalled on a Vickers holding penalty during Seneca Wallace’s first down run. The Browns go incomplete to Cribbs, Hillis commits a false start penalty and then gets 8 yards on a checkdown reception on 3rd and 18. The Browns had adjusted and made some decent calls here. Seneca Wallace makes a nice play, but Vickers and Hillis kill the drive with penalties.
It is series like this that make the game so complex. Up until that point, the playcalling seemed wrong and the Browns had come out of halftime with a bad plan choosing Harrison over Hillis. All wasn’t lost though and they seemingly adjusted. Then when they had the right personnel on the field and might be getting something accomplished the players shot themselves in the foot with poor execution. Can you honestly blame Mangini and Daboll that Hillis and Vickers put the Browns in 3rd and 18? Do you think Hillis and Vickers think it is the coach’s fault? Anyway, after that, there is no play in the playbook that gets you 3rd and 18 a high percentage of the time. There is no play of this magnitude especially when you don’t have a true #1 receiver on your roster.
On a positive note, the Browns seemed to be looking for Ben Watson after his big first half of 4 catches and 62 yards. Unfortunately they didn’t find him and he finished the game with that same number of catches and yards. I do think they tried to hit him, but it was in the face of increased pressure on the QB and probably an increased focus by the Chiefs on knowing where Watson was. I would have to study video to be sure, but that is my suspicion. The Browns were smart to target Evan Moore who had a good look at a Seneca Wallace pass before he got laid out and knocked out of the game some 15 yards down the field if I remember correctly.
After the Browns finally yielded the lead 16-14 the Chiefs out-performed a pass heavy Browns team. Joe Thomas commits a holding penalty that Seneca Wallace contributed to by breaking the pocket that Thomas had contained. That put the Browns in 2nd and 20 and they eventually punted. Their last attempt with 3:41 remaining was unlikely at best after Wallace took a sack on 2nd and 6.
In summary, I would say Mangini and Daboll chose poorly between Harrison and Hillis to start the second half. I would also call them out for not attempting a screen pass in the second half that I can remember. Finally, Mangini and Daboll have already acknowledged that they should have probably gotten the ball to Josh Cribbs at some point in the second half via wildcat. He had one carry in the first half and none in the second half. Again, we know that the Browns’ offense isn’t an unstoppable juggernaut with All-Pro players all over the field. With a smart gameplan and better execution the Browns can still find ways to compete and win some games this year. There are no easy solutions and simply putting Daboll’s head on a pike in Berea won’t fix the Browns’ issues. The players need to execute their part of the plan better too by not committing stupid penalties.