Browns Fall Back To Earth With Loss To Colts
By Steven King
Fans of the Cleveland Browns didn’t like the fact their team lost 27-6 to the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium in the third game of the preseason.
As evidenced by the score, it was a tough thing for those fans to watch. But if the truth be told, Cleveland coach Rob Chudzinski loved every minute of the debacle, for it allows him to get the attention of his young team once again.
The Browns were feeling pretty good about themselves after handily defeating the St. Louis Rams 27-19 and the Detroit Lions 24-6, both at FirstEnergy Stadium, to open the preseason. The one-sided loss to the Colts in the so-called dress rehearsal for the regular season let them know that they’ve still got a long, long way to go.
Cleveland was not good in any phase of the game. In fact, it was overwhelmed in most aspects.
Following two impressive performances that provided encouragement that he was taking steps toward being the franchise quarterback the team has long sought, Brandon Weeden had a chance to prove what he could do playing in a dome on the road on artificial turf for the first time this year. He failed miserably, falling flat on his face. He looked rattled, frustrated and out of sync all evening.
But to be fair, his wide receivers – especially starters Josh Gordon and Greg Little – did not do him any favors with the way they ran routes and caught the ball. The running attack with Trent Richardson looked average at best. TE Jordan Cameron, who played well in the first two games, went back to looking more like Irv Smith and less like Ozzie Newsome. And the offensive played more like what it is – that is, a team struggling to find a starter at right guard because of an onslaught of injuries there.
Defensively, there have been questions all along about how the Browns would play against the run. Would their desire to go full-bent after the quarterback open themselves up to getting gashed by the run? Yes, based on how successful the Colts were. The linebackers were just OK and the secondary performed like the work in progress that it is.
Preseason games provide the first looks at a team each season. But these contests don’t count and neither do most of the impressions they leave. A club is never as good as it looks sometimes in the preseason nor does it look as bad as it appears. It is somewhere in between, which is exactly where Cleveland finds itself as it gets ready to play Thursday night at Soldier Field in its annual preseason finale against the Chicago Bears.
The problem is the starters on both sides probably won’t play much, if at all. As such, it will offer Chudzinski and his coaches one last opportunity to view the players battling for spots on the bottom half of the roster. But the myriad of mistakes made by the players at the top half of the roster against the Colts will have to be corrected in practice over the next 12 days leading into the Sept. 8 regular-season opener against the Miami Dolphins in Cleveland.
Based on how badly the Browns played in Indianapolis, it doesn’t seem as if that will be enough time to cover everything.
But Chudzinski would rather have that problem than one where he’s trying to re-focus a team that is using preseason games to start believing it’s better than it is. He doesn’t have to worry about that now, and for that he is grateful.