CLEVELAND — Make no mistake, there was more than one dumb thing the Cleveland Browns did Sunday afternoon against the Baltimore Ravens.
The debate on what was the dumbest could be held for days. There is no right answer, but plenty of candidates.
There were the game-changing penalties.
Chris Ogbonnaya lined up illegally on what looked to be a Josh Gordon fourth-quarter touchdown reception that would have given the Browns a three-point lead pending the point after attempt.
T.J. Ward was flagged on an illegal hit on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco on what proved to be Baltimore’s game-winning drive.
There was poor execution by Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden. He finished 20-for-37 passing for 176 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. He could not get the Browns offense in the end zone during a large chunk of the game where the Ravens offense could do nothing.
The Browns defense allowed two first-quarter touchdowns while the Browns offense could not score a touchdown.
Finally, the questionable play calling, game management and organization from the coaching staff was a glaring problem throughout the game.
Unlike the game in Indianapolis, Browns coach Pat Shurmur decides to go for it on fourth down in the fourth quarter. Only problem, it was fourth-and-2, it was on the opponent’s 28-yard-line, the Browns had two times outs plus the 2-minute warning, the Browns defense was playing well and, finally, the Browns lined up in shotgun on a day in which they averaging 4.3 yards per rush.
Incomplete pass. Ravens add a field goal to extend lead to 10. Good night and good luck, Browns fans.
Why go for it this time?
“I wanted to get a first down,” Shurmur said. “I felt we had a play we liked, we didn’t execute it.”
All those dumb things added up to the Browns losing to the Ravens for the 10th consecutive meeting. Cleveland enters its bye week at 2-7.
A lot of blame will rest with the head coach and rightfully so. The Browns looked disorganized Sunday, but despite the sideline bungling, they clawed their way back to a 15-14 lead in the fourth quarter.
There is talent on this team and it’s more than just the placekicker. For the Browns to be able to get back into the game shows that the roster features players who can do positive things at the professional level.
Yet they didn’t do enough Sunday, as evident by the inability to score a touchdown. What prevented the touchdowns? Mostly it was fundamental mistakes the Browns consistently made throughout the game.
“You got to do your job if you want to win football games,” Shurmur said. “There’s some sloppiness in there and I’ll take responsibility for that.”
Eventually, that sloppiness will probably cost Shurmur his job and lead to another poor record and coaching change in Brownstown.
Sunday’s loss to the Ravens proved that the Browns’ talent is improved from season’s past, but the leadership needs to improve in order for these young players to progress in the proper direction.
You know that. Shurmur knows that. Most importantly, Owner Jimmy Haslam knows that.