Another close fourth quarter loss. Part of me wants to blame someone, something for continuing to lose like this. The other half of me remembers how far this team has come in one season. Last season at this point in time, the Browns were 1-9 and fresh of a 16-0 beating at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens.
The record doesn't look much better (3-7), but this team is light years ahead of where we were last season. That fact is what gets me through losses like today. On to the five.
1. No more excuses. This teams wide receivers aren't getting it done. The Jags had the 29th ranked pass defense coming into Sunday. The Browns wideouts had a combined 8 catches for 77 yards. That's it. Starter Brian Robiskie would have been completely invisible if it wasn't for his offensive pass interference call. I guess he just wanted to get his name called.
The Browns have the worst wideout group in all the NFL. If WR isn't need number one this offseason, then it sure as hell is 1A. If the Browns plan on Colt McCoy continuing his growth as this teams quarterback, we better get him some targets. He needs some help, and he needs it soon.
2. The first point lends itself to this one, the Jags sold out to stop the run and it worked. Other teams have tried, but no one was as successful as Jacksonville. Hillis was unable to get anything going on the ground, 21 carries for 48 yards. He had a nice day on the receiving end of things, six grabs for 95 yards and a TD, but the bread and butter of his game was null and void. The Browns struggled all day with the front four of the Jags and were unable to spring Hillis to the second level of the defense.
The Jags were daring the Browns to use the outside of the field and loaded up the middle. With the Browns not having a serious threat on the outside, the Browns were powerless to make Jacksonville pay.
3. Injuries are starting to catch up to the Browns. We aren't a very deep team, and the talent we have have we need to keep on the field. Today saw the loss of Eric Wright and Ben Watson. Watson was able to return, but after his replacement Robert Royal dropped a key conversion. As much as Eric Wright has struggled this season he is still a member of the secondary. If he is out, that forces Ray Vetrone and newcomer Eric King into service.
Vetrone has been victimized twice over the past two seasons. I have said it before, Vetrone is a nice special teams player, but we can't have him in on defense. He is a liability that opposing offenses have had no problems taking advantage of.
A unfortunate bright spot to the Eric Wright injury was the continued growth of Joe Haden. I'm starting to run out of things to say about him. His late pass break-up of a Mike Thomas bomb was a thing of beauty. Haden was beaten deep, yet kept his composure, and when the pass was underthrown, didn't draw the PI call, and broke the pass up. Fantastic.
4. Colt McCoy is at his best when we need him. Here is a stat in case you are still wondering about Colt. When he is trailing, his stat line is 27-41 318 yards (7.75 YPA), 2-1 TD-INT. How about them apples? When the Browns need Colt McCoy the most, he is at his best.
4th quarter? 18-27, 213 yards (7.89 YPA), 2-1 TD-INT. Remember, he is only five starts into his career. You can say a lot of things about McCoy. He doesn't have the strongest arm and seems to be wary of throwing to his far left (11 attempts all season), but this kid sure as hell isn't scared of the moment in this league. Think the Titans wish their former Longhorn QB wasn't scared of the NFL?
5. As much as I love Colt McCoy, a NFL should never lose when their opponent turns the ball over 6 times. Never. The Browns stubbed their collective toes on some really short fields. You have to tip your hat to a Jaguar defense that played with no room for error all game.
The Browns defense played well, allowing only the second 100 yard rusher this season. They forced David Garrard into poor throws and made Maurice Jones-Drew earn every yard. The only struggle continues to be a lack of a consistent pass rush.
Today was a tough loss to take, but somehow I have the feeling that the Browns didn't get beat, Colt McCoy just ran out of time.