Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday leftovers

The Browns have a play in their ground-game arsenal that needs to be looked at more closely. Don’t know what it’s called. Don’t care. It should be ripped out of the playbook and thrown away.

It’s a deep handoff from quarterback Colt McCoy to whoever the running back is. In Sunday’s victory over the Miami Dolphins, it was Montario Hardesty. It was attempted twice. It failed miserably both times.

In simple terms, it’s more like a sprint draw where the quarterback takes the snap, sprints (in this case) to his right before handing off to the stationary running back. It simulates a draw play, but the runner gets the ball a few seconds later.

The runner, who stays put until he gets the ball, ostensibly has a hole through which to run because the offensive line has given him several options by the time he secures the ball.

Considering how poorly the Browns’ offensive line blocks for the running game, that play is a drive killer and needs to be purged. It requires precise timing and this line is not capable of executing it.

To wit: Late in the second quarter against Miami, Hardesty rippped off a 14-yard gain on first down from the Browns’ 32-yard line. Next play, the sprint draw. A five-yard loss. Hardesty got the ball a split second before the Miami defense arrived. He didn’t stand a chance. Two incomplete passes later, the Browns punted.

Hardesty is not a wait-for-the-ball type of runner. He needs to be moving forward in concert with his line in order to have a chance at being effective. When he ran north on conventional dive and trap plays, he was fine.

All this play does is result in loss of yardage. Precious loss of yardage. All that play did was to put the team in a deep second-down hole.

It happened twice against the Dolphins, enough times for Pat Shurmur to open his playbook, remove that sheet, place it in a waste basket, then light a match and throw it in the waste basket.

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It also appears as though Shurmur, for whatever reason, chose to stay vanilla against the Dolphins’ defense. Nothing fancy. No reverses, no misdirection, very little play action.

Perhaps it was because Joshua Cribbs was limited in what he could do. Then again, it might be a sign the coach wants McCoy to become more comfortable with the basic offense before tinkering with his learning curve.

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If Shurmur is looking for a good slot receiver, he should look no further than No. 89 on his roster. At the risk of sounding repetitious, Evan Moore, at 6-6, 250 pounds with huge hands, has proven to be a playmaker whenever called on.

Sure, he’s not a very good blocker. But he certainly knows how to get open, hardly ever drops a pass thrown his way and is a playmaker on a team begging for playmakers.

Judging from his relative inactivity in the first three games, one has to wonder just what Moore did to be tethered to the bench so much. It’s not as though those in front of him on the depth chart are doing that well.

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