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

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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

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  You can catch any interviews you missed on

News, Notes and Rumors for Week 8 of the NFL Season

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Bill Smith


What have we learned so far this NFL Season?

The current leaders for a bye week in the playoffs in the AFC are the Steelers and the Bills.
The Steelers got the top spot after the win over the Pats Sunday.  They have a HUGE game this week with the
Ravens in Pittsburgh.  Beyond that they have an easy schedule the rest of the way.
They face the Browns and Bengals twice.   The only games that seem to be a challenge now are road games at the
Chiefs and the 49ers.

The Bills have a tougher schedule ahead of them.  But their win last week over the
Redskins is a good sign for the D.  They face the Jets twice and close with a game at the Pats.

The other playoff teams at this point of the season would be Texans (AFC South), Chargers (AFC West) and the wild cards Bengals and
Pats.  Despite being ranked 5th overall in the AFC, the Ravens would be out of the playoffs if the season ended today.

In the NFC things are just as surprising.

The top team is the Packers which will not surprise anyone.  But the 49ers are 2nd overall at 6-1.  The Giants and Saints
would be the other division winners and the wild cards would be the Lions and Bears.

While the 49ers have the toughest schedule they are also in the easiest division.  They will face the Steelers and Ravens from the AFC and the Giants out of the NFC East.  The 49ers will win their division easily.

The Lions have to face the Pack twice as well as the Saints and the Raiders.  The Lions will be a playoff team IF they can keep QB Stratford healthy.  Otherwise the WC will go to the Bears.  The Bears have already lost to the Pack once and face the resurgent Eagles, the Lions and the Pack once in their remaining games.

The Cowboys are again struggling at RB because they are using a light Felix Jones too much.   He is hurt again and they cut RB Choice before their game Sunday.

The Cards have discovered what most of us have known for a while—QB Kolb is not an NFL quality starter.  He has really struggled
in the last couple of games and they are considering going back to Skelton.



Teams that want Stanford QB Luck were rooting for the Rams to get the top pick.  That is the only team that would be inclined to trade either the pick or their current top pick QB Bradford.  The win by the Rams over the Saints hurt their chances of getting the pick.

Right now after week 8 of the season the Dolphins are leading the race to Luck.  They have not had a quality QB since Dan Marino retired and would love to “suck for Luck.”  The Colts are in 2nd but they will not get Luck even if they get the top pick.   To find out why check out my article WhyStanford QB Luck will not be a Colt in 2012 on the subject right here on

The Colts have kept QB Manning on the active roster.  However, he should not even think about coming back to the team this year.
The season is lost and the offensive line is … offensive.

The NFL Player Safety Committee will study the situation with Charger G Dielman who suffered a seizure after having a second
concussion Sunday.  It was a very scarysituation to see him stagger and fall to the ground after a hit.



Former HC Cowher denied rumors that the Dolphins had talked with him about becoming their HC.   Thank heavens for Caller ID.  He
avoided the call by seeing it was the Dolphins on the line.

The Saints loss to the Rams was a major upset but also indicates an issue with the team.  They have struggled to protect the QB and with their O so totally dependent on Brees passing, it puts doubt in the minds of many that the team is a serious contender for the title.  The
Rams won without their starting QB Bradford.

The Madden Curse strikes again.  This time it is RB Hillis that is the primary victim although the entire Browns’ group of RBs have also suffered from the Cover Curse.  Backup Hardesty is now down with a torn calf muscle and they are looking for anyone that can run the ball.

The chance of Hillis being on the Browns next year is said to be close to 0 but he may have to come back because no one else will
make him an offer.  He has said he does not want to be distracted by talking more about a new contract.  He will get very little interest unless he
gets back on the field and has a solid last half of the season.

The rumor is that the Texans are a dirty team.  HC Kubiak defended his team Monday in his news conference.  The truth is that Kubiak
started the rumor himself to make his team look tough.  Anyone that has seen this team over the last couple of years knows it is anything but tough in either their minds or physical play.  The D is doing better this year but the only reason the Texans may stumble into the playoffs is the
injury to Colt QB Manning.

Sometimes a big payday can make a player soft and he will fail to ever regain the performance that got him the check.  That is not the case with Titan RB Johnson.  While he has suffered from a lack of conditioning because of the lockout and his holdout, that is not the issue.  The fact is that the O line of the Titans has not opened holes like they it has in the past.  With a passing game that is among the worst in the league, teams are putting 30 guys in the box and making sure that Johnson cannot get outside.  RB Ringer is a better inside runner and will split time with Johnson.

If the Cowboys don’t make the playoffs, look for big changes in Big D.  Owner Jones is not patient and the coaching staff is not the only change that might be made.  QB Romo is going to have to become a consistent guy particularly in the 4th quarter.

Cowboy DC Rob Ryan is confident he will be a HC soon.  He indicated that his brother Rex got his chance already.  Rob, here is
some advice.  Not only do you have to have your own charges play better but unless Rex gets his act together he may
be an ex-head coach soon as well.



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 He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at

He edits .




What to look for in the Saturday Divisional round games.

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Cards @ Saints

Cards QB Warner had just another day at the office. Against one of the most improved Ds in the league he went 29-33 for 379 yards and 5 TDs without a pick. The Pack had no answer for Warner. They blitzed him and he picked man to man coverage apart. They rushed 3 and kept 8 in coverage and he found holes in the zones. The O line protected Warner for the most part and sub WRs did well to make up for the loss of WR Bolden.

On D, the Cards and the Pack allowed the score board to look like the something out of Pinball Wizard. Neither D could put consistent pressure on the others QB. The Pack was so focused on Warner that they allowed RB Wells 6.5 yards per attempt. They were lucky that their O was putting up so many points or Wells would have had more than his 14 carries. If the Cards are going to have any chance to stage the upset the D is going to have to play like they did last year in the playoff run to the Super Bowl. The passing game of the Saints is equally lethal. The Cards are 23rd in pass D. The D may be missing DE Campbell, LBs Davis and Hayes. If they can’t go the D will be in even more trouble. Get your popcorn ready, this could be a wild offensive show.


The Saint’s D coordinator Williams isn’t sleeping too well this week. He has nightmares of Card WRs running wide open through his D backfield. The Saints D had played much better this year than last but it has had a tough time against high percentage passing attack. The good news is that CB Jenkins is hampered by a hamstring but is expected to play. The bad news is that Boldin is optimistic about playing as well. The Saints are ranked 26th in pass D. The key to the game for the Saints D will be their ability to pressure Warner better than the Pack did.

The Saints O is outstanding. They are 1st in both yards and points, 4th in passing and 6th in rushing. The team stumbled into the playoffs with 3 straight losses. The O is going to have to play like they did early in the season and not in the last 3 games. They scored only 44 points in those losses. The 23-10 loss to the Panthers could have been explained by the team resting a lot of the key players but not the losses to the Boys and the Bucs. The problem was not rushing. They ran for 124 against the Bucs. The problem was not turnovers or completion percentage. The Saints may get RB Thomas back. That will help them get a running game going again.

The problem was they could not get the ball into the endzone. The game will depend on the Saints finding their scoring punch again. If they are forced to kick field goals to score, they will lose.

Both teams have a questionable D. But the Saints are struggling on O and the Cards are hotter than the sun. I will go out on a limb and pick the Cards in a huge upset.

Ravens @ Colts


The Birds did a great job pressuring the Pats D with the running game. The O scored 33 points but got a lot of help from the Pats. They won’t get that kind of help from the Colts.

The O is going to have to get more out of the passing game. They won 3 of their last 4 games but those wins were against the dregs of the NFL. Against a team that scores like the Colts, 4-10 for 34 yards and a pick will not get it done. QB Flacco has not stepped up to the challenge like most expected him to do. The O line isn’t the problem, accuracy and lack of game breaking receivers are the critical issues. The coaching staff doesn’t trust Flacco to win games for them and they shouldn’t. He has crumbled in big games like against the Steelers. The running game is solid but won’t score often enough to keep the Ravs in the game. They will have to depend on the passing game and it will let them down.

The weakest part of the Ravs D is the pass defense. They are 5th against the run and 8th against the pass. They depend on pressure on the QB to control the pass. They won’t be able to get enough pressure on Manning to stop the Colts passing game.


The Colt O is devastating but it is one dimensional. They are #2 in passing but dead last in the running game. They are going to have to run the ball a little to keep the chains moving. The one advantage they have is that they can play catchup really well. Manning is playing at a very high level. The team lost 2 games but in both cases Manning and company were pulled early.

The Colt D has played great in some games and lousy in others. They rank 24th against the run and will get a lot of practice stopping it against the Ravs. The key injuries on D are all probable. That should help as the D has suffered a lot of injuries during the season. The rest the wounded got will help them.

The key to stopping the running game has been S Sanders but he is on IR again. The Colts’ D will struggle stopping the run but will get the win due to their O.

Saturday I will discuss the Sunday games.

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.

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 He has also published several novels on and edits .

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