Browns Film Review: Mistakes O’ Plenty

By Will Burge

There is only one word to describe the Browns performance against the Tennessee Titans: Ugly.

After reviewing the film, it reminded me quite a bit of week 1 against the Bengals. The Browns had less than one quarter of quality effort from the offense and mental mistakes killed the defense.

Here are some quarter by quarter notes after re-watching the game multiple times.

1st Quarter

For the first time this season the Browns were able to move the ball in the opening quarter. Pat Shurmur set up the pass with a heavy dose of Hillis early in the quarter and Hardesty late.

The offensive line played unbelievable in the first quarter. McCoy had plenty of time to look down field and the only time the line was beat was on the 3rd down play of the second drive where Shurmur called for a Josh Cribbs sweep. On that play, Mack was beat which forced Cribbs to reverse field. The failed play made the Browns settle for a field goal.

The weak part of the offense in the first quarter was the quarterback. McCoy had opportunities to put six points on the board but was not able to take advantage. All the good plays he made were negated by the bad ones.

Good: McCoy steps up and hits Robiskie over the middle to pick up a first down on the first drive. The deep pass for 25 yards to Greg Little on the second drive. The 27-yard pass to Hardesty at the end of the 1st quarter which gave the Browns a first down in Titans territory.

Bad: The rollout throw on the first drive where McCoy tried to force a pass into Massaquoi on the sideline. The ball was intercepted but luckily the defender could not keep his feet in bounds. Also, the second play of the second drive where McCoy had all the time in the world and threw behind Ben Watson about 20 yards down field. If McCoy hits Watson in stride it is a touchdown. The safety had cleared and there was no pressure on McCoy.

The defense played well in the first quarter. The gave up one big run to Chris Johnson (25 yards) and a touchdown pass in the red zone but that touchdown drive was set up by Phil Dawson landing the kick-off out of bounds giving the Titans a short field to work with.

7-3 Titans lead

2nd Quarter

The second quarter is where things really fell apart for the Browns.

They started the quarter with a 2nd & 8 at the Titans 26 yard line. McCoy fumbled the snap on the first play forcing the Browns into a 3rd & 16 play. With the Browns in an obvious passing situation the Titans brought a blitz. McCoy did not recognize where the pressure was coming from, and he almost threw an interception into double coverage. The drive ended in a field goal but it was another missed opportunity deep in Titans territory.

The first play of the next Titans’ possession was an 80 yard TD pass to Jared Cook.  Former Browns head coach and Titans offensive coordinator Chris Palmer did a great job of recognizing the Browns’ weaknesses and exploiting them.

He isolated Jared Cook on Scott Fujita and Fujita had no chance. Once he was beat, the last line of defense was safety Usama Young who took a terrible angle and missed the tackle.

After trading possessions back and forth, the Browns got the ball back at midfield still only trailing 14-6. Tony Pashos, who was making his first start of the season, was flagged for a false start and that put the Browns in a 1st & 15 situation. This set of downs is where Pat Shurmur called the 4th & 1 play that had Armond Smith receive the ball on a pitch instead of running Hillis up the middle or a quarterback sneak. Whether it was the correct play call or not it didn’t work and that is the bottom line.

The Browns forced the Titans to punt but once again the offense stalled just inside Titans’ territory. With 1:34 second left in the first half the Browns punted back to the Titans and only trailed 14-6. This next possession won the game for Tennessee.

TJ Ward missed a tackle allowing a first down on a crossing route. Then, with 50 seconds left in the half, the Titans ran a “pick play” where the routes crossed on the outside and the receiver bumped Dimitri Patterson off his man. It resulted in a Nate Washington reception that got Tennessee all the way inside the Browns 5 yard line. There isn’t much Patterson could do about being moved off the route but the reason the play was so successful was that the Browns rushed six people and no one got to the quarterback.

Sheldon Brown was beat on a touchdown pass and the Browns were all but buried heading into the half.

The defense could not get any pressure on the quarterback all game long but the second quarter was especially bad.

21-6 Titans Lead

Second Half

The Browns were awful in the second half so there is no need to go quarter by quarter. Here are some second half notes from the film.

–        Greg Little set the Browns 1st offensive series behind with a block in the back on a punt return.

–        McCoy held the ball too long and was sacked stalling that drive.

–        McCoy’s interception was maybe his worst decision of the year. Jason Pinkston was beat which flushed McCoy from the pocket. Instead of throwing the ball away, which McCoy told the media he should have done after the game, he tried to force a pass where there were three Titans and no Browns.

–        Hardesty had a serious case of the dropsies and two of them would have kept drives alive.

–        Evan Moore’s one handed attempt in the end zone is one of the reasons people think he isn’t getting as much playing time as he would like. It’s the second time this year he has done that and some feel it reflects a lack of effort.

–        Peyton Hillis played much less in the second half than Montario Hardesty. Was it because Hardesty is involved in more passing formations or something else?

–        Colt McCoy stopped looking downfield toward the end of the third quarter. The Titans knew the Browns had to pass and all McCoy could do was try and get rid of the ball before the rush arrived.

–        The defense played the run well and gave the offense a few chances to get back into the game including a Mike Adams interception after cutting the lead to 31-13. They played better than in the 1st half but still could not get any pressure in the backfield.

–        Colt McCoy said it best after the game. “This was a total team loss”

Follow Will on Twitter @WillBurge



  1. Guys like Rizzo and Brindo continually whine because they are getting older and still have no titles. Fine, I am 54 and started following the Browns in ’65. But I do recognize their present problems are due to the most atrocious drafting since ’99 that have seen. We picked up a mountain of picks including another # 1 and # 2 for moving down and still getting Taylor. Mass picks DONE RIGHT is what is finally needed, not some flashy guy for instant gratification like Julio Jones who would get either thoroughly discouraged or injured because there is no one around him. We had 25 gaps and are now down to maybe 12. Since Joe Thomas we have done better but changing coaches and regimes have killed us because they draft like crap or have their own ideas on what types of players they prefer. Keep continuity up top and continue drafting well. We now have 2 solid rb’s, are OK with TE’s, at center finally, at left tackle, quite possibly both guards, the front four and two defensive backs. David Bowens and company was not going to fix this poor drafting mess quickly just because we are aging and getting impatient. Next year we have TWO # 1’s. Maybe we can start with a guy like Blackmon or Floyd for you needy FLASH fans ! Massive picks done right is what is needed. Look back to ’99 and you SHOULD see that !

    • I agree 100%. We need to quit changing coaches every 2 years, continue to gather picks and then make quality picks like Heckertt has been doing the last 2 years. We are finally building from the Off. and Def. lines first and then we can add our skill players. We have to give Holmgren and Heckertt time to assemble a team.

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