Cleveland Browns: Grading Week 7 Loss to Indianapolis Colts

Nick Dudukovich@@DukeofNickContributor IIOctober 22, 2012

Cleveland Browns: Grading Week 7 Loss to Indianapolis Colts

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    Despite Jimmy Haslam's $1 billion purchase of the team earlier in the week, the Cleveland Browns failed to ride any momentum to a win over the Indianapolis Colts Oct. 21.

    With the defeat, the Browns tied the franchise record for its 11th consecutive road loss.

    Questionable play calling, the lack of a running game and Andrew Luck surgically dissecting the Browns' defense in the first half all played to the team's demise.

    Here's how the Browns graded out:

The Running Game

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    The Browns were supposed to run all day long against a beat up Colts' defense.

    Instead, head coach Pat Shurmur called 17 rushing plays for the entire game, against a team that was giving up 159 yards per contest.

    Starter Trent Richardson never got into a groove and left early because of a rib cartilage injury he suffered in Week 6. He managed only eight yards on eight carries.

    Back-up Montario Hardesty carried the ball seven times for 28 yards.

    Would putting Hardesty into the game earlier have made a difference? We'll never know, but it was obvious from the get-go that Richardson wasn't going to be the pre-injury back we've seen the last few weeks.

    What we can take away: A failure no matter how you try to explain it.

Brandon Weeden

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    A: The Browns' rookie signal-caller is looking a better pick with every week that passes by.

    He threw for 264 yards and two scores and showed he could lead a team just as good as No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck.

    Unfortunately for Weeden, the Browns got nothing on the running game, which put the team's offense right on the Oklahoma State grad's shoulders.

    Looking back, it's amazing he threw the ball 41 times without being intercepted.

    Weeden did everything he could to put the Browns into a position to win. If Josh Gordon would've hung on to Weeden's go-ahead touchdown pass with 6:45 to play in the fourth, all of the major television networks would be anointing Weeden as the "It" quarterback of the week.

    What we can take away: Brandon Weeden is the best quarterback the Browns have had since 1999.

The Defense

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    C: The defense was embarrassing in the first half, as the unit couldn't get off the field.

    Andrew Luck looked like he was back at Stanford carving up UCLA's defense.

    On the Colts' first two scoring drives, Luck and Colts ran 25 plays and racked up 156 yards. Both drives ended with Luck rushing for the end zone.

    Despite the poor effort, the Browns regrouped in the second half. Luck only ended up passing for 186 yards and a 74.8 rating.

    Sheldon Brown even made what should have been a game-changing play when he forced a Luck fumble in the fourth quarter.

    What we can take away: It's not how you start, it's how you finish.

Coaching Daze

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    Pat Shurmur may be the first NFL coach to be fired.

    Need proof?

    Check out Jimmy Haslam's face as the Browns decided to punt on 4th-and-1 with 6:31 to play. It was just after Josh Gordon dropped a Brandon Weeden pass in the end zone.

    Whether or not this was the right call is debatable because, after all, the Browns got the ball back.

    But there's no excuse to mask rushing the ball 17 times throughout the game.

    Shurmur and company knew Trent Richardson was banged up; Wasn't there a back-up plan that could be put into motion once it became clear Richardson wasn't going to help?

    Weeden was on mark with most of his throws throughout the day, but it was unfair to put the weight of victory in the 29-year-old's lap.

    What we can take away: Shurmur gets to the end of the season, but stay tuned because more gaffes are on the way.

Special Teams

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    Browns fans should've known how this one was going to end up after Reggie Hodges failed to control a perfect snap on extra point that came after the Browns first score.

    It's like the Browns were chasing that point all afternoon.

    And Hodges wasn't done. With the ball on the 41-yard-line late in the fourth quarter, Hodges failed to trap the Colts inside their own 10. Instead, he booted the ball out at the 20.

    The Browns were also awful on kick returns, as the struggling unit committed three turnovers on Josh Cribbs' four return chances.

    Special teams "superstar" Ray Ventrone committed two holding penalties.

    What we can take away: The Shurmur-era makes Browns fans yearn for the "Good Ole'" Mangini days.