Last Sunday’s game was another loss for the Cleveland Browns. But it kinda felt like a win. Hey, at least it was a positive performance considering the debacle that was the season opener.
Now, at 0-2, the Browns need a win as they play host to the Buffalo Bills (0-2) at 1 p.m. Sunday. Pat Shurmur said what we’re all thinking a day after his team lost to the Cincinnati Bengals 34-27.
“We have to win this game,” he said.
For all the good the offense did last Sunday, it was another loss, which was the team’s 48th loss in their last 68 games dating back to the beginning of the 2008 season.
Like the Browns, the Bills looked bad in their opener, but rebounded for a much-improved second week. Unlike the Browns, the Bills won their Week 2 matchup beating the Kansas City Chiefs 35-17. Running back C.J. Spiller keyed Buffalo’s victory with 123 yards rushing and two touchdowns on only 15 carries.
The Browns inability to stop the run is well documented. In two games, Cleveland has allowed 230 yards rushing on 55 carries for a 4.2 yards per carry average. Well, at least it’s better than last season’s yards per carry average — 4.4.
In two games, Spiller leads the league with a 10.1 yards per carry average, as he has 292 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 29 carries.
“When you get stats like that so quickly, that means he’s got a lot of big plays, which he has,” Shurmur said. “You have to limit the big plays, you really do. When you have an explosive guy like Spiller, he’s going to make some yards, it’s just going to happen. What we need to do is eliminate the big plays, and then make them have to go the long way.”
“They’ve done a really nice job scheming their offensive football team and they take advantage of (Spiller’s) abilities,” Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said on Thursday. “He’ll run inside or out and he gets through a hole quickly. He’s very fast down the field. They they’ll get him out of there and they’ll throw him the ball, too. He’s a very good receiver. There are a lot of issues involved, obviously.”
In other words, there are a lot of chances for Spiller to have another dynamic game.
In the opener, the Browns allowed LeSean McCoy to rush for 110 yards on 20 carries. It could have been more, but Eagles coach Andy Reid pulled an Andy Reid and didn’t stick with the running game. Last Sunday, the Browns run defense was much better against BenJarvis Green-Ellis, who had only 75 yards on 21 carries.
For all the concerns about the run defense, the Browns need to score points. They did last week. The 27 points was the most Cleveland scored since a Week 2 win at Indianapolis a season ago.
The key last week? Quarterback Brandon Weeden threw for more than 300 yards and running back Trent Richardson rushed for more than 100 yards.
Rinse and repeat, as necessary.
“Confidence-wise it was good for me,” Weeden said. “Now, I just have to build off of it, be consistent and do it two weeks in a row.”
Consistency has been lacking in Cleveland. Last Sunday’s outing was encouraging, but you can’t afford a step back in performance now. In Week 1, the Bills allowed 48 points to the New York Jets. Mark Sanchez finished 19-for-27 passing for 266 yards with three touchdowns and one interception and Shonn Green rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.
The Browns would love for similar numbers from Weeden and Richardson for a second consecutive week.
As Weeden said, it is time to “do it” two weeks in a row. If that happens, there is a good chance this Sunday night will feel like the Browns won a game because, well, they actually won a game.