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Tony Grossi's Take: It just got a lot harder to argue against more change

Dec 16, 2012 -- 10:17pm


By Tony Grossi

Tony Grossi’s Take on Browns’ 38-21 loss to Washington Redskins

Offense: For the first time, Trent Richardson questioned what people have been questioning most of the season. Why get away from the run? He had only two carries the second half, though it began with the Browns leading, 14-10. Most of the good quarterbacks opposing the Redskins have thrown on them with great success. But Brandon Weeden struggled with batted balls, tips, misfires and two interceptions that turned the game against him. Bottom line: Weeden looked like a fourth-round draft pick making his first career start. Wait.

Defense: Can’t say this unit came out flat. It’s first four series produced punt, interception, punt, punt. But once Mike Shanahan switched to the play-action, bottleg passing game, rookie first-time starting QB Kirk Cousins turned into the reincarnation of Jake Plummer – with a better arm. Except for two sacks and a T.J. Ward interception off a Sheldon Brown deflection, the Browns made no plays. Bottom line: Gave up 25 first downs, 430 points and 38 points. Ouch.

Special teams: If this were the final home game in a Browns uniform for kicker Phil Dawson and return specialist Josh Cribbs, it was a unfortunately quiet farewell. Dawson, who appeared especially pumped up with three touchbacks on kickoffs, did not attempt a field goal. Cribbs had no returns of note, though he did set up a TD with a 16-yard run as a Wildcat quarterback. Reggie Hodges had a few underwhelming punts in 18 mph winds, but finished with a 35.7-yard net average on six punts. Bottom line: Ho-hum instead of ho, ho, ho.

Coaching: The offensive coaches took a hit when Richardson complained that the offense shucked its game plan too soon. The defensive coaches had a rough day adjusting to Cousins’ predictable, yet methodical, execution of the play-action bootleg passing game. Ultimately, this game did nothing to bolster the case for stability that had been built through three wins in a row. Bottom line: Need a win in Denver and Pittsburgh to avoid another 10-loss season.

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi


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