Browns vs Ratbirds (RB) Week 4 in game notes.


Nice run on the first play but the O died due to a bad play call and no blocking against the blitz.

Again a weak punt gives the RBs nice field position.


Got some pressure on Flacco and the pass was wide

Jauron has a plan to cover Rice. It worked on 2nd down.

Skrine with good coverage on the WR

A great job by the front 4 so far against the run and the pass.  Stopped Rice on 3rd and short.

The ruling on the Cribbs fumble is WRONG.  The play is dead when the helmet comes off.  It is impossible to recover a dead ball.  The ball should have been given back to the Browns because they were the last team to legally possess it prior to the ball  becoming dead.

The new helmet rule has confused both the rule makers and the “real” refs.   The rule may have to be updated to prevent a fumble being caused by a legal hit recoverable.  Again, you can’t recover a dead ball.

Great pick by Robertson.  He saved the league and the refs.  He should be the starter because he has the speed and instincts to do the job.

Thomas has had a tough season.  There have been WAY too many holding calls.


DQ is playing better this year.  Nice read on the run.

—– end of the 1st Quarter

Brown gives up 39 yards because he is S L O W.

Skrine gives up a 34 yard pass because he is short.

DT Winn is really playing well.  I predicted he would beat out Hughes and he did.

The zone D broke down on the TD pass to Smith.

But because they missed the EP we are only 2 Dawson FGs behind.

-BA 6 CL 0

Weeden has small hands.  That is an issue in rain.

Richardson is running very hard.  When you carry Nota on your back for 3 yards, you are running VERY hard.

Weeden misses again and the Browns are 3 and out.


Another special teams gaff and the game is getting away from the Browns.

Patterson is solid in covering Smith in the endzone.

Long FG is good.  Now we are 3 field goals behind.

–BA 9 CL 0

No blocking on a great 3 yard run.  TRich is outstanding.

The right side of the line collapses for a sack and the Browns go 3 and out again.


Our O does not work in the rain, or the sun, or the snow, or …

Little with a nice catch.

Then Weeden throws into triple coverage.

Two more nice throws take the team down to the goal line.

Richardson shows his speed getting to the corner for a TD.

=BA 9 CL 7

The new Ratbird O is built for quick strikes.  The Browns need to stop this drive to have a chance.

The D got the stop but then 3 and out.

Hodges punts the ball 32 yards again.  Another special teams gaff.


Second half

Great run by Rice.

The Ratbirds use Bolden to drive down the field and score.  That is what half time adjustments can do.  Of course the Browns spend half time giving orange slices to the players.

–BA 16 CL 7

The Browns OGs are getting pushed around by the D.  Pinkston shows some potential but Lauvao is hopeless.  In my opinion he does not have the feet to play at this level.

Richardson is a weapon.  Nice throw and great YAC .

TRich is also a great blocker.  On the long pass to Watson, TRich leveled the blitzing LB.

The second throw to Norwood was way too hot.

51 yard FG by “Mr. Automatic” Dawson.

=BA 16 CL 10

The D front line is starting to wear down.  It will be much better when we get Taylor back.  We will be able to rotate more often.

The sack by Hughes was due to coverage.  Flacco had nowhere to throw.

Again coverage is so good Flacco had to hold the ball.

The penalty for hands to the face was caused by coverage as well.  The RB O line is struggling to keep Flacco upright while he looks for a target.

The zone D of Jauron is holding up well.

The 47 yard FG is NG.

Cameron with a great catch.

The RBs had seen the reverse and reacted to it well.

The pick was due to Weeden not throwing the ball on time and throwing behind the WR.  Williams was sitting on the route and had time to get to the ball.

=BA 23 CL 10

The Browns throw another 2 yard pass.  THAT is not going to get it done.

A swing pass to TRich netted 20 yards all yac.

Weeden was 4-4 as the Browns moved the ball down the field but missed an open Cameron on 1st down.  Then the Ravens ran 2 blitzes and the drive stalled.  Another great kick by Dawson for 50 yards.

=BA 23 CL 13

Quick slant to Bolden has been open all game but now the RBs are using it.

Rice continued to run well

Lavauo is really not NFL material.  He does not have the feet to play G.

More pressure on Weeden caused another 3 and out.


NFL NEWS flash —- Holding will no longer get called on the home team

Fuj actually chased down Flacco.  I didn’t realize Flacco was that slow.

On 3rd and 9 Skrine got a knockdown to force a punt

Great 38 yard punt return by Benjamin that was allowed by two nice blocks.

Another blown block by the O line caused the grounding.

Then the Bench got a penalty for another 15 yards. 2nd and Washington DC.

Another drop by Little after Weeden got the ball out against the blitz

Dawson gets a 52 yard FG.

=BA 23 CL 16

Bolden again hurts the Browns with another great catch for a 1st down.

After the holding penalty the rookie breaks out for 16 yards

A penalty against Skrine gave the Ratbirds the 1st

Good play by Sheard forced a punt and a chance for the Browns

Good job by norewood to prevent the pick on his slip.  We need more of that kind of effort to help out our QB.

Great effort by Weeden to get the ball down the field.  We had a shot but yet again came up just a little short.



The Browns played much better than they did against the Bengals.  If they had put out this effort last Sunday, we would have won.  That is not unusual.  Young teams lack the consistency that you want.


The O was better.  The RBs focused on stopping Richardson.  That allowed more single coverage on our receivers than usual.  Weeden shows a lot of guts standing in against the rush and keeping his eyes down field.  He took a lot of hits and threw for more than 300 yards for the 2nd time in 4 games.  Any rookie QB will make misreads like the pick.  But keeping him in will make him a much better QB for the next coach.


The O line is struggling.  RT Schwartz has yet to show he was worth the high 2nd round pick.  He has potential but has not shown as much progress as I had hoped.  Lauvao has to go.  The Browns need to bring in a RG to replace him or a UFA LG and move Pinkston.  The running game will never be what it should because our guards are not able to get to the 2nd level.

Thomas is playing hurt and it show.  He has a leg issue and cannot move his feet quick enough.  That causes him to hold.


The WRs are bad.  MoMass is at best a 3rd WR and is always hurt.  Neither Little nor Gordon can catch on an NFL level.   They also struggle to run accurate patterns like the WCO requires.   I like Norwood but he is thin as tissue paper.  The Cribbs experiment is over but the coaching staff has yet to realize it.  He is too slow and too small to be a WR.  Benjamin is 3 feet tall.  While he has great speed, he is used too often down the sideline.  He gets picked by a taller CB.  They need to keep him in the middle like Welker for the Pats.

The TEs are just OK.  Cameron has iffy hands.  Watson will be on IR soon.  He is as fragile as fine china.  Smith is a blocker but not much of a down field threat.  He also is not much of a running back.


The D has played well overall.  It suffers when the O goes 3 and out so often.  Jauron has put in two of the best game plans we have seen since 1999.  The Eagles and Ratbirds game plans were brilliant.  However, both Maiava and Fuj need to be benched.  We need to develop Johnson (when he gets healthy) Fort and Robertson.  They are the future at OLB.


No question that Haden’s suspension has really hurt the team.  He let his fellow players down.  We need a solid CB opposite him.  Skrine is a nickel at best.  Patterson is smart but does not have the speed to be effective.  Brown is 3 years past his expiration date.


The book is still out on Ward.  While he is a big hitter, he takes bad angles too often and struggles to cover in space.   The Browns do not have an NFL quality FS.  Hagg has potential but is green as baby peas and is athletically limited.  Young is a stop gap at best.


The special teams are horrid except for the star of the team Dawson.  If I was the GM or head coach both Hodges and Special Teams coach Tabor would have to find their own way back to Cleveland.  They both would have been fired on the spot.  Tabor would have lost his job after the debacle in Oakland last year.  We have not had a regular season punt blocked since the early 90’s.  It will happen this year if Hodges is not cut.


I will comment on head coach Shurmur in a separate article.  I will say that I would much prefer to see Childress call plays.  Shurmur as the OC is frankly offensive.


That’s what I think.  Tell us 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

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