Live Game Notes Week 8 Browns vs Chargers

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CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 23: Wide receiver Jo...

CLEVELAND, OH – SEPTEMBER 23: Wide receiver Josh Cribbs #16 of the Cleveland Browns is tackled by wide receiver Brad Smith #16 and and strong safety Da’Norris Searcy #25 of the Buffalo Bills during the second half at Cleveland Browns Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Bills defeated the Browns 24-14. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

Live game notes Week 8 Browns vs Chargers

Marecic is a healthy scratch.  Maybe the coaching staff is finally waking up to the fact he can’t block, run or catch.

The only way deferring on the coin toss helps is if the D can stop the Chargers and get good field position for the O.

JMJ is playing well but Maiava is too slow to be a starter on a good team.

Three straight runs give the Chargers a first down.

Haden missed the tackle on Floyd but the WR went out of bounds anyway.  THAT is why he will not be a top WR.

The first drive is right down the Browns throats.

The Chargers got greedy and it cost them.  TJ Ward is much more valuable at the LOS than in coverage.   He came in unblocked to stop the 4th down play.

The play calling by Shumur is no better.  The 1 yard pass was stupid.

The Browns got bailed out by the penalty.  Otherwise it would have been 3 and out.

TRich is running hard and the bigger WRs are doing a nice job blocking down field.

The O line is not punch blocking to allow the quick slant to get through.  That is a coaching issue.

Weeden did a great job finding Ogbonnaya with the pass on 3rd and long.  Weeden is keeping his eyes down field under pressure which is critical to his future development.

The wind is playing havoc with both passers.  It knocked down the pass to Gordon in the endzone.

TRich showed why they drafted him with the 3rd pick.  Great run for the TD.  Lauvao helped a lot by rebalancing him as he broke free.

=CL 7 SD 0

 

Bad challenge by Shurmur.  You don’t challenge a 5 yard pass.  Challenges are way too valuable.

Good defensive effort to get the punt.  Stevens is out with a neck injury.

After an 8 yard pass the Browns go 3 and out failing to get 2 yards in 2 tries.

=

Weddle is an outstanding S and got a great punt return.

MLB Jackson got a good hit on the ball and the Browns get the TO.  DT Winn is having an outstanding year.  He recovered it.

The Chargers are weak on the edges and the Browns need to attack them more than the middle.

The double reverse blows up in Shurmur’s face.  Too cute by a half.  Why would you call a double reverse between guys that had not practiced together in this kind of weather?

The team ended up wasting the TO.

=

Bad punt followed by a sack by Winn and a tackle for loss.

Young knocks down the pass and the Chargers go 3 and out.

The Throw back jerseys are perfect for Pitts.  They all should be wearing prison stripes.

A bad punt by SD gave the Browns good field position.

A penalty gives the Browns a 1st in SD territory.

Ogbonnaya took his eyes off the screen pass on 3rd and 7.  Browns drive ends with a decent short punt OB at the 12.

=

Two runs give SD a first.

Ward is playing too close to the LOS.  Watch for a long pass to TE.

Young takes the RB out of the screen pass and 2nd down pass fails.

DQ Jackson struggles in coverage.  He failed to get Brown in time to prevent the 1st down.

Young covered Floyd well preventing the long completion.

Ward gets to Rivers and the pass is incomplete.  SD got some yards and a couple of firsts but did not get past their 40.

The Browns commit yet another special teams penalty and lose field position.  This happens WAY too often.

TRich is again sent up the gut for no yards.  All his best runs against SD have been on the edge

Nice catch by Cameron.

Gordon gets open again.  Makes the first and YAC.  Weeden is showing much stronger arm than Rivers.  I wonder if there is something wrong with Rivers’ arm.

TRich’s runs show his patients and vision.  Outstanding 2 runs in a row.

Greco has proven he is an OK backup but he struggles to get the outside blitzer across the formation.  The O line is playing better now than early in the season.

=

Browns fail to jam on the 1st down throw.

Rivers has thrown a lot more this year to the RBs than to either TEs or WR.  I do think he has an arm issue.  You would expect that the D would be paying a lot of attention to the RBs but they don’t seem to be.

Brown runs to the Browns’ 33 for a 1st .  SD is driving right down the field.  The Browns tend with 2 minutes left to play too loose.

The Chargers get a FG to cut the half time score to 7-3 CL.

=

Another good return called back by a penalty.  When will special teams coach Tabor get canned?

Again the Browns are trying to run up the gut rather than going to the edge.  Bad choice

Little with a catch.  He did much better last week than he had earlier in the season.

Another unnecessary batted pass.  TE Watson was open but the ball was blocked down by the DE.

Just as I complement Little he drops a 3rd and 10 pass.  I should know better than to give him some love.

=

OLB Robertson is doing a good job covering TEs.  He was on Gates for the 3rd down pass.  Gates dropped it.

The Chargers get a 59 yard punt.  Sign the guy next year for the Browns.

The Browns are 2 of 9 on 3rd down.  Make that 2 for 10.

3 and out for the Browns and they punt from the endzone.

At least Hodges got a good punt off for 50 yards.

=

JMJ again on the tackle.  He is playing well.

Meecham was WIDE open and he dropped the ball.  Again Ward was late on coverage in a blitz situation.

But another great punt puts the Browns on the 8.

Good run by TRich for a 3rd and 2.

The Browns fail to covert and give the ball back inside their territory.

=

The Chargers are running right down the throats of the Browns D.

A brain cramp by the playcaller allowed the Browns to stop them.  They tried to do a reverse that lost 6 yards.  That was the only thing that prevented a TD.  I wonder if the Browns’ game plan blew over to the Chargers like it did against the Bengals.

CL7 SD 6

After another pass that is knocked down (and almost picked) the Browns get a 1st down on a 22 yard complete to Little.  He is showing more FB IQ.  But then he holds a LB and you know he is not getting smarter.

Gordon gets the 1st on a crossing route.  Nice pattern.

Browns are forced to call a TO because the play was late getting in.  In a one point game that is ridicules.

Weeden gets sacked which takes them out of FG range.

Good punt and great ST play gets the ball down to the 3.

=

Another pass to an RB gets the ball to a 3rd and short situation.

A tough run goes for the 1st at the 13.

The supposed weak O Line of SD steadly pushes the Browns back on runs.

Miava fails to cover the WR and SD gets another 1st.

Ward makes a tackle but after the hit Mathews gets 4 more yards.  Ward does not rap up.

Good coverage by Haden allowed a stop.

Shumur was too busy arguing with the official to call the play and the team had to call a TO.

Hardesty fumbled but got the ball back.  That would have been the end.

The Browns move the ball a little but had to punt.  Now is when we see the BIG screw up that costs them a game.

=

The Chargers continue to throw to the RBs and move the ball from deep in their territory to the Browns’ 40.

DQ Jackson is just too slow recognizing a RB release and lacks the foot speed to cover effectively.

Rivers missed on a wide open TE at the 20.

Skrine makes the play of the day by tipping the ball away from the receiver on a 4th down pass.

The Browns hold on to get the win.

 

Analysis

A win is always better than a loss.  But this game was won more by luck and a couple of good plays by the team than by planning of the coaching staff.  The Charger staff is as good as gone.  Turner should have been fired a couple of years ago when they still had a top D.  It is too late now to get a good coach and take the team to a title.  That ship has left the dock.

This win will not change the decision on keeping Shurmur by the new owner.  Jimmy Haslam realizes that it was due more to luck and a bad opponent than skill by the coaching staff.  The only thing that can save Shurmur would be to win 4 of the 8 games left on the schedule.  There is very little chance that will happen.

The win does hurt the chance for the Browns to get a top 2 draft pick.  That would be very valuable for a monster trade like the Rams got.  There will be several teams desperate to get a top QB prospect in the 2013 draft.  Two extra first and second round picks would help fill the holes in the roster.

Conclusion

This win is not a turnaround.  As I said after the win over the Bengals, this team is not ready to turn around.  It is getting better.  Weeden is improving more because of his game play rather than coaching.  He is a smart guy and seldom makes the same mistake twice.

The WRs are beginning to improve.  Gordon is emerging as the number one guy for the Browns.  He has a long way to go to become a legitimate NFL #1 guy but is developing.  He has the speed and athleticism to achieve that.  The O line is also improving.  One sack in the last 3 games is a vast improvement over the first 5 games.  The line has a long way to go blocking the run but it was no accident that the running game was better with Smith at H-back rather than Marecic.

The D is suffering with the injuries to the DTs.  Having both starters out hurt the team against the run.  Winn is going to be a star as I predicted before the draft.  The 3rd round pick Hughes has played better than I expected.   But any team needs to have quality players to rotate into the line.  With the starters hurt the team lacked rotational players.

The LBs are playing better as well.  I am not a big fan of Maiava because he is too slow to cover in the zone effectively.  I do like both the young guys JMJ and Robertson.  Both show real potential.  Jackson is fine but is not getting any faster.  He lacks the speed to cover the new fast TEs down the seam of the 2 deep zone.

The D backfield is also improving somewhat.  Brown is doing his best but lacks the speed to play man coverage much.  The young guys are showing a little improvement.  Skrine has the speed but often struggles to make the tackle on big WRs.  The one star is Haden.  One of the top draft needs of the team is a top CB across from Haden.  That would have a huge impact on the pass coverage.

Overall the win was nice but it doesn’t mean a whole lot in terms of the season record.

That’s what I think.  Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He edits http://fryingpansports.com.  He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/.

He edits . Also listen to the best Sports Talk anywhere on the Internet and hear his sports show Monday-Thursday 6-7:30 PM EST on or http://mooheadradio.com/2.5/?page_id=21.  You can catch any interviews you missed on http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/.

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What to look for in the Sunday Divisional round games.

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nfl

Cowboys @ Vikings

Cowboys

Prior to this season the Boys folded in December. When JJ issued his threat to blow up the team and the coaching staff this season unless the Boys got into the playoffs and did well, the team got the message. This team has played a lot better than they did in previous seasons but I am not on the Boy bandwagon yet.

The O has been solid but the last two games were played against an Eagle D that seemed to give up after being in a position to win the NFC East. In the upset win over the Saints, QB Romo had a QB rating of 104. In the two games against the Eagles he had ratings of 86.1 and 106. That is a great improvement over last year when he finished the year with ratings of 44.9, 66.2 and 55.8 in the 3 losses. The improved Romo is the key to difference in this years team. The Boys will need as much passing as he can generate because they will not be able to get much on the ground against the Vikes.

RB Jones ran for 148 yards but that is misleading. Take out the two long runs and he had a 4 yard average. That is VERY average. Starter Barber is probable but is coming off a knee and won’t be close to 100%.

The other key to the turnaround is the play of the O line. The line had been living on an undeserved rep. In the latter part of the season they started to play up to that rep. They will have to against an outstanding D line of the Vikes.

The Cowboy D has also had the habit of playing up or down to the competition. The key will be pressure on QB Favre. If they can pressure him, they will have a chance. The pass D ranked 20th giving up over 200 yards per game. Balanced offenses give them problems. The Vikes can be very balanced when they chose to be.

Vikings

The Vikes tend to throw too much on O. That habit tends to get them in trouble. QB Favre can light up the scoreboard but can also throw enough picks to kill the team’s playoff hopes. The Vikes ended the season just 2-3 in December including an embarrassing loss to the Panthers. Favre had a passer rating of 73.7 in that loss. The team ranked 8th in passing.

The running game is solid with the leagues best back Peterson. But he has 1 100 yard game in the last half of the season. The O line had not been opening holes for the running game and Peterson has gotten beaten up. Peterson has to get over 100 yards for the Vikes to win. That is going to require the O line to play at a higher level. G Hutchinson is probable for the game. He would help the O line a great deal.

The Viking D is solid as well. It ranks 2nd against the run but 19th against the pass. The key to the Vikes winning the game is shutting down the Boys running game and forcing Romo into mistakes. Given enough pressure, he will make errors.

This is a very hard game to call but I think the Vikes have just enough to beat the Boys. The Cowboys will not be able to run and will not be able to keep up with Favre and the Vikes.

Jets @ Chargers

Jets

The Jets beat a Bengals team that was inexperienced in the playoffs. That is not the case with the Chargers. The game will depend on how hot Jet QB Sanchez can get. The Jets took advantage of an easy schedule and even then needed gifts from both the Bengals and the Colts to get into the playoffs. The O has the top ranked running game. That is a good thing because in the last 3 weeks of the season, Sanchez had passer ratings of 49.7, 78, and 60.2 and threw just 1 TD with 9 picks. That is not going to scare experienced playoff teams. RB Thomas is their top guy but he had only 3 100 yard games in the last half of the season. He is 31 and they hope it is not an indication that he is showing his age.

The Jets are going to have to be able to throw better than that to win.

The Jet D ranked 1st in scoring D, passing D and yards. They are 8th against the run. They have been playing very well under Coach Ryan. However, they have not beaten an O like they will against the Chargers.

Chargers

QB Rivers has had an outstanding season. He has a passer rating of 104. The running game is ranked 31st which caused Rivers to throw a lot. The passing game is ranked 5th. He has a solid group of receivers WRs Jackson and Floyd and TE Gates. The running game has Tomlinson but he is a shadow of what he was a few years ago. Neither he nor RB Sproles has gotten the running going. The Chargers used the franchise tag on Sproles. That was a mistake because he will never be able to be a starting RB. The O line came together after recovering from early season injuries. It still can not run block.

The Charger D is middle of the road in terms of yards but ranks 11th in scoring D. NT Scott is their 3rd guy in that spot but has come on nicely. The loss of All Pro NT Williams has reduced the ability to stop the run and the team ranks 20th in that department. They are 11th against the pass and have a pair of pro bowl LB in Merriman and Phillips. They have not played up to their rep this season. The D backfield is led by CB Cromartie. The D can play at a very high level but is inconsistent.

Given all that, the Chargers should be able to score on the Jets through the air. I am not sure that QB Sanchez can keep up with Rivers. The Chargers win.

Your fantasy football doesn’t have to be over. Run a pro football franchise all year long for free at . Tell them Coach Smith sent you.

26-7.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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