Browns Bye Week – Week #10
With no game this Sunday, the team (and fans) gets a chance to break from their routine. The staff will not have their regular practice schedule as well – per the new CBA. There are two important things for this team going forward; the first of which is getting the roster as healthy as possible.
Two impactful players who have missed the past few games are Athyba Rubin and Dimitri Patterson. Both of these athletes need to return as soon as possible, to not only provide depth, but also to help the front office evaluate both the players and position groups. The defense has had its issues this season and there’s a good chance the Browns will focus heavily on drafting that side of the ball. Will they need to take a linebacker or defensive back early? Seeing what the roster can do over the remaining seven games is extremely important in making offseason decisions.
Additionally, let’s remember that rookie Trent Richardson’s ribs are still not completely healed – rest will help this. He has been playing very well as of late, and many want to see how he performs following some extended time without contact. Josh Cooper was held out of last game as well; he is not a full-time starter but can be an important cog of the offense. If the rookie comes back and has a few receptions (including key ones like in Indianapolis) each week, he could be a keeper in 2013. Also, Mohammed Massaquoi’s rookie contract expires after this season. In determining whether to re-sign the oft-injured wide receiver, the Browns must factor whether he is one of the top three or four targets on the team. Greg Little and Josh Gordon appear to be the two primary receivers, and the remaining slots are (currently) up for grabs.
Another essential aspect of the bye week is making the necessary changes to improve the team’s chances for success. This relates to multiple decisions on Sundays – which personnel to use, eliminating mistakes, and how conservative/liberal to be in play calling. The coaching staff has made a couple of changes in personnel already (i.e. Usama Young over Eric Hagg, Alex Smith over Owen Marecic, etc.), but with the team going 2-7 in the first part of the schedule, more changes may follow.
As evidenced by many outlets (and admitted by Pat Shurmur), the team has committed a couple errors on game day. This includes clock management (forcing the Browns to use ever-important time-outs) and not being completely prepared for the upcoming opposition. Outside of the Giants game, the team has fallen behind and been forced to play catch up, while the opponent is dictating the game. The Browns in turn, have had to adjust their game plan in order to try to reclaim the lead. I hope Shurmur and his staff figure out the best way to employ their playmakers in order to attack defenses and prevent opposing offenses – from the start. Getting a lead early precludes the team from having to rely on the passing game, as well as opening up the defensive playbook with multiple rush and blitz schemes.
It’s become obvious that the head coach struggles whether to be conservative or liberal while calling plays. It remains to be seen if its Shurmur’s own doing or if he and Childress are in continual debates, but the offense seems sporadic at times. I recall a few instances where a type of play (i.e. rushes up the middle) is successful, then a couple downs later Weeden throws several deep incompletions and ends the drive. The third down and ones are constantly giving fans headaches, the team must execute these well and continue drives – be it by run or pass. Shurmur is being second-guessed because, more times than not, the Browns punt the ball the following play. I hope the time off gives the team an opportunity to sit down and finalize a solid foundation for administering the offense – it should have happened already, but it appears that more work needs to be done.
The last point I wanted to look look at, were the trends of how the team has fared following bye weeks: (The team did not play a game following a bye week during the 1999 and 2000 seasons, so they are omitted)
– 2001 – Loss at Chicago – 27 to 21
– 2002 – Win at Cincinnati – 27 to 20
– 2003 – Loss at Kansas City – 20 to 41
– 2004 – Loss at Baltimore – 13 to 27
– 2005 – Win vs Chicago – 20 to 10
– 2006 – Loss vs Denver – 7 to 17
– 2007 – Win at St. Louis – 27 to 20
– 2008 – Win vs NY Giants – 35 to 14
– 2009 – Loss vs Baltimore – 0 to 16
– 2010 – Win vs New England – 34 to 14
– 2011 – Loss at Oakland – 17 to 24
From these stats, the ratio of games played at home versus away is relatively even (six to five); the team will travel to Dallas following their bye this season. The same can be said about the win-loss probability, with the franchise going just under .500 after a week off. I would have liked to see a more positive outcome for the Browns during the past twelve years, but this is not the case. It seems the chances of a victory are that of a coin toss – they have not won a game on the road this season and are definitely due to get off the schnide next week.