Thoughts on Browns-Raiders, Harbaugh-Schwartz and today’s
I’ll be stunned if Browns’ running back Peyton Hillis is
playing for someone else tonight. No. 1, because he’s got a hamstring injury.
Since he’s in a contract year, I don’t know who would give up a
draft choice for a player who might be with them for half the season or less.
Two, Montario Hardesty has issues with pass protection and
catching the ball, two areas where Hillis excels. Hardesty has done nothing to
show he’s ready to take over as the feature back.
Three, cold weather is approaching and if the Browns can
ever get an early lead, they’re going to have to adopt a run-first mentality, or at least a Hillis-first mentality. Yes, I know this is a passing league and they’re running the West Coast
offense, but that's still what they do best.
Other tidbits from the Browns’ loss at Oakland:
- What struck me most was the speed factor. The Raiders have
it everywhere (i.e. Jacoby Ford, Darren McFadden) and if the Browns have any,
it’s sitting on the bench or playing special teams. McFadden (especially in the
first half) looked lights years faster than anyone wearing a Browns jersey.
- Browns special teamers and the coaching staff should be
totally embarrassed for allowing two touchdowns. And after bringing one back
101 yards in the second quarter, Ford returned another kickoff 37 yards in the
fourth quarter. And why the Browns would go all out to block Sebastian
Janikowski’s 53-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter is beyond me.
Janikowski is deadly from 60-plus and the Raiders were just looking for the perfect
time to use the fake.
- I thought accuracy was Colt McCoy’s strength, but he
completed 21 of 45 against the Raiders. The throw that bothers me most is the
one to tight end Ben Watson on the Browns’ next-to-last play. McCoy put the
ball behind Watson and on his hip on third and 3 from the Oakland 42. McCoy is
averaging just 5.5 yards per attempt.
- The Browns have only eight plays of 20 or more yards in five
games. It’s no wonder they’re averaging only 3.3 yards per carry. Players need
to make more plays and coach Pat Shurmur needs to call more passes of more than
15 yards to open things up for the running game.
- Linebacker Chris Gocong has 11 tackles in five games. You
can see why Hillis believes he deserves a contract extension.
On Hillis’ hamstring injury:
I blame the Browns and CBS for the Internet frenzy over the
running back’s inactivity in the third quarter Sunday. If Hillis suffered a
hamstring injury in the first half, the Browns should have made that
announcement at the start of the third quarter, not in the final minute of the
third quarter. (I marked on my notes that the announcement came two plays after the fake
field goal, which happened with 1:23 left.) When Hillis was standing on the sideline without a
helmet, reporters asked the Browns’ public relations department what was wrong
with him and the answer was that Hillis wasn’t injured. That’s where the
“coach’s decision” part came from. Either you’re hurt or you’re not playing
because of the coach’s decision. The Browns’ press box telephone (presumably
linked to the CBS booth) didn’t start ringing until late in the third quarter,
so Marv Albert and Rich Gannon apparently began
speculating without adequate information.
Considering this, most of the drama surrounding Hillis has been the Browns’ fault. It was president Mike Holmgren who went on ESPN's “Mike and Mike in the Morning” radio show and talked about a contract extension for Hillis and how impressed he was with the running back’s abilities. Shurmur contributed to Strep Throat Sunday by not being emphatic enough about Hillis' illness that kept him out against Miami on Sept. 25.
About the Jim Harbaugh-Jim Schwartz incident:
I’m shocked the NFL didn’t fine the coaches for their lack
of professionalism. It looks like a double standard for coaches and players,
who can be fined for wearing their socks at the wrong height.
But I don’t agree with those who said the post-game dustup
gave the league a black eye. Yes, it took away from Sunday’s best game. But I
can’t wait for San Francisco and Detroit to meet again. What if it happens in
the playoffs, with Detroit getting in as the NFC wild card? It will be more highly
anticipated than Bill Belichick and Eric Mangini after Spygate.
Also, if I’m playing for the 49ers or Lions, I love it that
my coach is that passionate after a game.
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