Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday leftovers

Back from a short jaunt out of town, but taped the latest Browns loss and watched it late last night. Some observations . . .

Let’s get one thing straight right. Seneca Wallace is not an every-game quarterback in the National Football League. Not now, not ever.

So get the notion out of your thought pattern that the Browns have a quarterback controversy now because Wallace played reasonably well Sunday in Glendale, Ariz. The only controversy will be whether Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert Jr. decide their future quarterback is not on the current roster.

After watching how well Wallace ran the west coast offense in the first half against the Cardinals, they have to wonder whether Colt McCoy will ever pick up the nuances of the scheme. He has his moments, but they are too few and too far between.

Wallace has a distinct advantage, having run the west coast when called upon while a backup with Holmgren’s Seattle Seahawks. He looked comfortable from the opening snap as the Browns jumped to a 17-7 lead late in the third quarter.

But the nine-year veteran from Iowa State is (a generously listed) 5-11 and short quarterbacks do not succeed in the NFL. Unless, of course, your name is Drew Brees. Don’t for a minute think Wallace is the answer to the Browns’ problems at the position. He’s a stopgap at best.

When Wallace sets up under center Saturday in Baltimore, the Ravens should have no problem disarming anything he hopes to throw against them. The Ravens most certainly will be in a nasty mood after getting spanked by the Chargers Sunday in San Diego.

* * *

Another more important dilemma is what the Browns plan to do with Peyton Hillis. The 2011 season’s bad boy is starting to run like he did last season when he romped for 1,117 yards and scored 13 touchdowns.

The Browns all but begged him to sign at the beginning of the season, but Hillis and his agent of the moment thought he should be paid like he was Arian Foster or Chris Johnson or any other elite NFL running back. That wasn’t going to happen.

Now that Hillis has been humbled, it’s possible the Browns might retry to get the big guy’s name on a contract, particularly after it appears that Montario Hardesty has become the club’s new Mr. Fragile. With the emergence of Chris Ogbonnaya and the expected return of Brandon Jackson from injured reserve next season, Hardesty could become an afterthought.

Here we are nearly two seasons into Hardesty’s NFL career and all he has to show for it is nine games played, four as a starter, 268 yards gained and no touchdowns. He has spent much more time either on injured reserve or the sidelines due to some ailment.

Perhaps it’s time for the Browns to cut their losses and release him so some other team can find out what Browns fans already know. He’s an injury waiting to happen.

* * *
Did anyone notice how nonplussed Pat Shurmur looked when Larry Fitzgerald made that game-altering catch in overtime in Sunday’s 20-17 loss? It was no different than the expression on his face during a routine dive play.

Show some emotion, coach. If only a slap on your play sheet to show some anger. Let us know you have feelings. Let us know you can get angry or upset or happy or whatever. At least Mona Lisa had a smile on her face.

If you believe in the trickle-down theory when it comes to emotion in football, then a team is a direct reflection of its coach. But if that coach resembles a statue on the sideline, it has to have some sort of deleterious effect on the team.

Its one thing to be in control at all times. It’s quite another to act like something more than a robot.

* * *
The Browns’ three linebackers totaled 29 of the team’s 69 tackles against the Cardinals with D’Qwell Jackson accounting for 13, 12 of them solo. Chris Gocong added a couple of sacks and combined with Kaluka Maiava on five tackles for loss.

Gocong and Maiava were extremely strong during a goal-line stand late in the fourth quarter when a Wallace fumble gave the Cardinals a first and goal at the Cleveland 5. Jay Feely ended up kicking a game-tying field goal after the Browns’ great red-zone defense stiffened.

If there’s any one area that Shurmur and defensive coordinator Dick Jauron can point to with pride, it has been the defense’s terrific showing whenever the opposition crosses their 20-yard line or creates a turnover deep in Cleveland territory.

* * *
Stream of thought and some stats: Jabaal Sheard continued his late run for all-league rookie honors with a two-sack game. He has been the lone bright spot along he defensive line in the last six weeks. . . . Hillis was held to only 30 yards in 11 attempts in the second half after ripping off 69 on 15 carries in the first 30 minutes. Almost a third of his first-half yards were gained on his first two carries (18 and 12 yards). . . . Wallace’s showing Sunday in Glendale, Ariz., was no fluke. In his previous game there on the final weekend of the 2008 season, he threw for 250 yards, a pair of touchdowns and a couple of interceptions in a 34-21 loss. It was also Holmgren’s final game as the Seahawks’ coach. . . . A statistical juxtaposition for the Browns in the loss to the Cards reveals the weak run defense limited Arizona to just 74 yards, while the high-ranked pass defense surrendered 289 net yards. . . . The Browns did nothing to stem the tide in the dropped-passes department with another four, raising their season total to a league-leading 43. . . . Once again, the Cleveland secondary was burned by tight ends. Todd Heap caught seven passes for 69 yards and Jeff King grabbed one for 24, accounting for 93 of the Cards’ yards through the air. Heap used to abuse the Browns while a member of the Ravens.

No comments:

Post a Comment