By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
Photo/Getty Images via ESPN.com
Extra Points …
It’s not the plays or calls: Thursday being the first day of the week to check in with Browns coordinators, the topic of “halftime adjustments” was rehashed in the context of the Detroit game and the season in general.
The Browns have led every game at halftime.
The Lions’ 24-0 scoring spree increased the point-differential in second halves of six Browns games to 82-40 in favor of their opponents. In their three losses, the Browns have been outscored, 55-3, in the second half.
Both coordinators brought up the week-long discussion of halftime adjustments without being asked. You could tell neither was happy with the sentiment that they were outcoached in the second half by the Lions.
“In the second half, we did not do a good job converting third downs, particularly early,” said offensive coordinator Norv Turner. “We had two three-and-outs in the third quarter and they were able to keep the ball a long time. So people want to talk about halftime adjustments, you go into the second half, and all those things. We had limited plays in the third quarter. It wasn’t about adjustments, to me, it was about converting third downs.”
Defensive coordinator Ray Horton made a reference to post-game comments from the Lions that the Browns couldn’t handle their adjustment to an “empty” formation – the quarterback alone with no backs in the backfield -- which served the purpose of isolating Reggie Bush on linebacker Craig Robertson.
“I heard a story about Detroit said they made a great halftime adjustment,” Horton said. “I guarantee you the last thing I told our guys was ‘empty.’ They hadn’t run any, and they’d run it all year long. So we were ready for empty. They threw, I want to say, four empty passes, and one of them was basically successful. One play hurt us.”
Horton hinted strongly that he believes fatigue may be the biggest factor in the defense’s breakdowns in the second half.
There’s this: “Are you asking me do I think the calls are wrong? No, I know those aren’t wrong. But I have to get our guys to play faster. Nobody’s shocked us by coming out in Wildcat or empty or five wides. We know what’s going on. The first half has proved it and nobody has made a glaring, dramatic adjustment at halftime and adjusted what they do. It really comes down to focus. Are we out there too long? Have we changed calls? Do we need fresher bodies. All those things we have to look at.”
And this: “When you go yards per play, we’re the No. 1 defense in the league. We have 100 more snaps than the (overall) No. 1 defense.
“The model, the system, the players, it’s not broke. It’s not broke. We just need to fix finishing games.”
More on the back-handed flip pass: Turner continued the week-long effort to defend Brandon Weeden’s self-described “bonehead” throwaway pass that was intercepted and sealed the 31-17 loss to the Lions.
“I’ve coached this game a long time, so you see a lot of different things,” Turner said. “He’s not the first guy I’ve seen throw a ball like that. Obviously, when it happens, he feels worse than anybody. It’s a mistake that’s correctable.
“I’m not going to name them, but there’s some guys that have been to numerous Pro Bowls and won Super Bowls I’ve seen not only attempt that pass but had it intercepted for a touchdown. It’s not excusable for anyone and doesn’t make it right, but we’ve got to eliminate it.”
Committee update: I asked Turner if Willis McGahee still has the ability to run outside and he quipped, “He can get outside, but I think he has to go inside to get there.”
(McGahee was given a day off from practice to rest his aching knees. That will become a common occurrence as the season goes on.)
Turner then went into a revealing observation about the state of the Browns’ running game that no doubt is hampering efforts to “manage” Weeden during games.
“We have an unusual situation there and we’re making the best out of it,” Turner said. “McGahee’s giving us plays. (Chris) Ogbonnaya’s giving us plays. Bobby (Rainey’s) giving us some plays. Now we’re going to use Fozzy (Whittaker) a little bit and see how he does. No question it’s a group effort.”
Quick hitters: The Browns will not attempt to void the signing of receiver Charles Johnson, who showed up with a torn ACL, which apparently was suffered while a member of the Green Bay practice squad … Cornerback Joe Haden wore a Browns T-shirt with Weeden’s name and number, but he said it wasn’t necessarily a show of support for the embattled QB. “I got all my boys’ shirts,” Haden said. “Weed, man, that’s always been my dude.” … The Packers are wearing throwback uniforms Sunday from the 1929 season. They feature navy blue jerseys and gold pants navy blue socks. The Browns will be dressed in their normal throwbacks – white on white.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to email@example.comFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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