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Cleveland lacks talent for coach’s offense

Shurmur’s West Coast offense isn’t producing points

October 23, 2011
B.J. LISKO - Salem News Sports Editor (bjlisko@salemnews.net) , Salem News

I said it years ago, and I'll say it again. Phil Dawson remains the Cleveland Browns' most valuable offensive player.

I'm not joking. I wasn't then, and I'm certainly not now after he split the uprights twice from 50-plus yards to give the team a 6-3 win Sunday over Seattle.

Maybe every time Cleveland gets into field goal range they should just line him up and let him kick. Forget going for touchdowns. If they don't score from beyond 40-yards out, kick the field goal on first, second or third down as soon as you're in range.

It seems to give the team more of an option to win right now then what head coach Pat Shurmur is trying to do.

I understand the Browns are installing Shurmur's West Coast offense and it's going to take time for it to supposedly work. But if the Browns don't ever have the players or the talent to run that offense, what's the point?

The team never addressed its wide receiver problem, which is sort of a big component in the new system.

Right now the Browns have got Colt McCoy running around trying not to throw check downs because the idea is to spread the field. But again as we saw Sunday, when he did throw to his running backs and tight ends, the Browns moved the ball. When he tucked the ball and ran, again positive things happened. When he tried throwing to receivers who couldn't get open if there was no defense on the field at all, the results were interceptions, near interceptions or stalled drives.

Browns fans, myself included, have zero patience for rebuilding. We want the team to do whatever it can to win right now. If that means throwing the ball to our running backs 20 times a game, then so be it.

I get why Peyton Hillis and Joshua Cribbs are complaining about not being used. Right now they give the team the best chance to win. The Browns strengths are to use Hillis and Cribbs as much as possible. Let McCoy check it down to the pair out of the backfield, and keep the tight ends a big part of the game plan to keep the chains moving.

Shurmur has come into Cleveland with all the appeal of a Butch Davis or Bill Belichick when he fronted the Browns - his guys, his way, or no way.

He almost did it his way right into a loss Sunday.

Cleveland's defense was seventh in the league headed into Sunday and after giving up just three points and holding the Seahawks to under 150 yards of total offense, they're continuing to keep the Browns in games. If the offense just manages mistake-free football, or at least can put together some semblance of normalcy, the team could pull off more wins than most people predict.

What's unfortunate, and what I ultimately think is going to happen this season, is Shurmur is going to West Coast the Browns to death.

He doesn't have the players for it, and he can't make guys who are incapable of big plays make big plays.

You're not going to win many games only scoring six points. Not to mention, those six points came when the Browns offense was improvising its way down the field.

Browns fans, and even this Browns fan, will have the patience to let Shurmur install his offense if he just relents enough at times to let the team play to the few offensive strengths it has.

Cleveland got away with one Sunday. That's not going to happen against better teams.

If Shurmur keeps insisting on coaching the way he is and calling the plays the way he does, Browns fans will call for his head long before he ever gets his offense in place.

And if Shurmur's offense keeps resulting in failed drives and turnovers, that Dawson idea might not seem so far-fetched.

E-mail B.J. Lisko at bjlisko@salemnews.net

 
 

 

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