Browns @ Ravens Live game notes and final thoughts


It is not a good idea to come to play the Ratbirds on the day they unfurl their championship banner.

The Browns deferred the choice to the second half.  They must be confident that the game will not be beyond reach at half time.


Penalty on Taylor is not a good start.  First and 10 vs. 3rd and 13.  They don’t need the help.

Nice pass defended by Haden

Great run by Rice.

Skrine drops the pick.  There is a reason some are DBs.

The Browns LBs are dropping too far and the Ratbirds are completing passes under them for first downs.  Must be a little more aggressive than that.

Mingo with the sack on his first play

Blitz fails to get there and the Browns are lucky the pass was a little long to the endzone.

50 yard FG attempt NO GOOD.

Good vision by Weeden to find Cameron wide open for 53 yards.  There are holes in the Ratbird DB group.  Greco should have been flagged for holding on the play.  Weeden got out of the rush effectively.

No blocking by the O line.  Two runs by TRich get just 4 yards.  Cousins pulled and got stuffed in the line.

Browns are slow getting the play and personnel in and have to call TO.  Not looking so smooth on O.

Weeden does not trust his protection to hold the ball long.  He saw his primary receiver doubled and threw it away.

CL 3 BA 0.


Browns are holding the running game to small gains but not the pass.

On 3rd and 6 Flacco misses the wide open receiver.

Nice return by Benjamin for 18 yards.

Again Weeden stares down his receiver.

Nice YAC by TRich.

Barnidge had a nice block

3rd and 2 goes to 3rd and 7 with a delay because the personnel doesn’t get in quick enough.

The Browns blow a 3rd and 2 again.  Bad coaching and execution.  That is inexcusable.


Crossing routes continue to baffle the pass defense.  Not sure why.

Mingo fails to bring Pierce down behind the line and he gets 4

Flacco has some pressure and throws long for Smith.

Bryant forces Flacco to run.  The pass in incomplete.

Browns get the ball back at the 4 after a holding penalty on 24.

Two good runs brings the ball to 3rd and 3 at the 11

Good call pass to Bess gets the first.

Immediate pressure on Weeden so he threw it away.

3RD 6 pass short of the LTG again.

Browns miss 4 tackles on the punt return.


On 3rd and 2 good pressure by the Browns.  Sheard finally gets Flacco for a sack.

Benjamin with a nice catch and run for a 1st.

Weeden extends the play and Little comes back to the ball on a nice catch vs. pressure;

Bess catches the 3rd down play for a 1st.  Good drive.  It did flip the field.

Suggs gets the sack.

Dumerville sacks Weeden because Schwartz is NOT a quality OL. Dum ran right around Schwartz.  This O line is bad.

Week punt only 29 yards from the 50.  That is not acceptable.


Groves gets Rice behind the LOS for a loss.

Mingo uses his speed to get Rice on the screen

Skrine nails Smith short of the LTG.

I wonder if Weeden is allowed to audible.  The LBs crept into the line and TRich ran the ball right at them.  That can’t happen.  When the backers are up the play needs to be changed to a slant or flair pass.

TRich catches the pass and works hard to get 4 yards.

Dumervil sacks Weeden and the Browns will punt again.

Lanning gets just a 36 yard punt.  The D is playing well enough to win but the O is “Owful.”


The Browns are not containing Flacco.  He runs for 9 yards. 1:03 left.

Smith W I D E  open because the LBs are way off.

Pass to the endzone is doubled and incomplete.

Gibson gets Rice for 3 yards on the pass.  The ball is on the 26 in easy field goal position.

44 yard FG attempt NO GOOD.

Weeden to Cameron for 12.

Good throw by Weeden and great catch by Little on the Ratbird 36.

Weeden avoids the blitz and throws to Little for 2

51 yard FGA Cundiff Kick is GOOD

Great job by the O to go 33 yards in 23 seconds.

CL 6 BA 0.  Half time.


Good run by TRich for 8

Cousins laying on his back from being pushed down.

TRich breaks 4 tackles and gets 8.

Little gets to the LTG for the first.

Sweep to the left is wiped out for a loss of 3

Bess catches the ball but wipes out the Gatoraid.  Browns punt.


Haden makes a saving tackle after Rice gets 13 yards.

Rice up the gut for just a yard.

Rice up the gut again for 3.  D line doing a good job.

Pass to Smith good to the Browns 40.

Blitz fails to get there and Flacco passes for the 1st to the 26.  Sheard was on coverage tailing the play.

Blitz fails again and Stokely beats Skrine to get the first.

Pierce runs for 9 on a cutback against the grain.  And scores on the next run.

BA 7 CL 6 Bottom of the 7th  80 yard drive with 3 for 3 in 3rd down conversions.

Suggs gets TRich behind the line on a 2nd and 1.  Cousins failed on a trap block.

Chris Ogbonnaya wide open and Weeden missed him.

Third time the Browns fail to get the play in and are penalized.

Little drops the ball on 3rd and 12.


Leach gains 12 on a pass.

Kruger solves the Rice cutback for a 2 yard gain.

Rice fumbles and Bryant comes up with the ball.  Robertson punched it out.

Schwartz gives up another sack.  Loss of 8.

Ogbonnaya catches a ball after Weeden is hit as he throws.  But it is short of the LTG at the Ratbird 39  4th and 4.

The throw is short of the 1st Ratbird ball.  Browns challenge the spot of the ball.


Holding on the Ratbirds takes them to 1st and 20

Sheard read the play and caught Pierce for a loss of 2 on a pass

Sheard and Mingo get good pressure on Flacco on 3rd and 22.  Sheard hits the passing arm and the ball fell incomplete.

ILB Darrell Smith just misses a ball that bounced off of Little.

Browns receivers are not getting open.  Weeden throws the ball away.

Again no separation of the receivers and Weeden is sacked.  RG Cousins is the culprit but others would have been blamed as well had D Smith not gotten him.

A special teams breakdown gives the Ratbirds the ball to the Browns 45.


Rice is hurt on a run because Yanda runs into him.  No gain.

Mingo bats the pass back and almost got to it for the pick.

Blitz does not get there yet again and the pass gets the first down to Stokely against Skrine.

Flacco to Brown against Ownes to the 6.

Rub pattern to Brown for the TD.

BA 14 CL 6 8:57 left

Ratbirds back off and Weeden gets Cameron for 24.

Little drops another pass.

Little drops the ball for the 3RD TIME.

Another delay loss of 5

They throw short of the LTG due to pressure again.  This line is not getting the job done.

Touchback on the punt is a 30 yard net.  Why can’t the find a punter?=


Defense is tired.  Pierce gets 7.

Pierce for the 1st.

Pierce sweep for 5.

Sheard and Kitchens make the play holding Pierce for 2 yards.

Stokely beats Skrine again for the first. 4:13 left

Punt dead at the half yard line.  THAT is a punt.

334 left Campbell replaces the injured Weeden.

PI gets the Browns out of the hole.  Ratbirds challenge.  Rulling upheld.

Pass is high to Bess Inc.

The backers gets to Campbell and it inc.

The 4th down play is a mess.  Mack was 8 yards down field as Campbell was flushed out and underhanded the ball to Cameron well short of the LTG.



Offense??  The bad O wasted a good effort by the defense.  The offense is not working and the addition of WR Josh Gordon next week is not going to solve the problem.  Weeden was not as bad as it looked.  He suffered from an invisible offensive line.  But except for Bess and Cameron the receivers were a disgrace to that word.  Weeden is still staring down his primary receivers.  But he seldom had time to even look for a second guy due to the rush.  His accuracy is hurt by his inability to step up in the pocket as he delivers the ball.  There is just no pocket to step into.  The team does not have O linemen that can get out in a screen pass and the draw play did not work at all. The best part of Weeden’s game was the lack of interceptions.  But again penalties and a lack of protection held the team to 6 points.  Passes completed short of the line to gain on third down do not help either.


The passing game was affected by drops primarily by Little.  Little was tiny in the game.  He could not get open and could not catch a ball right in his hands.  He has been the most targeted WR on the team in the first two games but is allowing the ball to get to his body rather than using his hands to snatch the ball out of the air.  It is time to bench Little in favor of Bess.  Another issue is Weeden has very little confidence in his WRs.  The team needs to put Weeden’s A&M team mate Josh Cooper into the lineup as the 3rd receiver.  Weeden needs a security blanket he can depend upon beside Bess.  He knows Cooper and they have shown they have chemistry.  This offense needs all the chemistry it can get but not the chemistry that has cost the team suspensions to Gordon and last year to Haden.


The O line was nearly as miserable as it was last week.  Weeden suffered five sacks, a large number of hits and a sprained thumb late in the game.  Whatever is causing Cousins’ inability to block is contagious because the rest of the line has caught it.  Cousins is getting beaten on nearly every play.  He lacks the footwork to anchor correctly.  Schwartz was horrible.  He was slow off the ball and let OLB Dumervil get the sack before Schwartz got his hand off the ground.  LG Greco is lucky he got his extension before the season because he has played like the walking dead in the first two games.  He does not get low enough and is pushed back into the QB on a regular basis.  He is not a starting quality OG.  Even all pro LT Thomas has not played up to his normal level this year.   The team is waiting for Shawn Lauvao to return from injury.  That is not going to help much.  Lauvao is at best a backup quality OG.


The running game is missing totally.  The lack of blocking has caused Richardson to dance behind the line.  This is not unusual.  He is desperate to the smallest crack to run through.  He averaged only 3.2 yards per attempt.  The O line is not getting to the second level of the defense.  Even if they move the front 3 or 4 the linebackers are clean to attack the run.  If the lack of blocking continues Richardson may never become the back the Browns wanted.  He is not only the best runner on the team he is also the most consistent receiver in the backfield.  Before he is ruined by the lack of blocking the O line has to be improved.


Four times the team either was flagged for delay or had to spend a time out because the O was not able to snap the ball in time.  That too is not acceptable.  The injury to Weeden is going to be an issue next week.  Campbell is a decent backup QB but does not succeed when under a lot of pressure.


There is a number of quality OGs available in free agency.  The team needs to spend some of the 26 million plus dollars under the cap and bring one in.


Defense:  An NFL team that holds the opposition to 16 or less points expects to win.  That does not apply to the Browns.  The D held the Ravens scoreless in the first half with a lot of help by K Tucker missing 2 field goals.  In the second half the Browns offense could not sustain drives leaving the D to handle the onslaught.   They did not handle it well.


The front 7 shut down the run effectively.  The Ravens averaged 2.8 yards per rushing attempt.  But again the lack of an NFL quality CB opposite Haden hurt the team badly.  While Haden held WR Smith pretty much in check, the Ravens abused both Skrine and Ownes consistently.  The safety play was also an issue.


The key statistic is the third down conversion.  The Ravens were 8 of 16 on third down.  The Browns were not able to figure out the crossing patterns and the linebackers were playing too deep in zone coverage to prevent the first down.  The D struggled to get off the field on 3rd down.  That has to get better if the team is going to win consistently.



The Bottom line:  This team is not going to get any better until the talent is upgraded.  This team needs four veteran NFL quality players to compete.  Now that the week 1 is played, they can sign a player without having to guarantee his salary for the season.  The Browns need 2 guards, a corner and a safety.


On the radio version of NNR last Monday I listed names of players that could be signed and improve the team.  Frankly the team owes the fans better ball than has been played this year.  The fan base has waited far too long to be subjected to yet another 4-12 or 5-11 season.  The way the offense is struggling, that record may well be out of reach for this team.



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  He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at  Follow him on twitter @NNRonDSN to get the schedule of Special News, Notes and Rumors broadcasts. 

You can hear the previous shows on and the live show Mondays at 6 PM Eastern time on The Bill Smith Radio Show.  

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