Created on Monday, 26 August 2013 Written by Jeff Schudel JSchudel@News-Herald.com @jsbrownsinsider, writer
Rob Chudzinski is proving to be one of those even-keel coaches — not the kind, to use the words of former coach Sam Rutigliano, to swing from the chandelier when the Browns win, and crawl under the rug when they lose.
No worry or panic was in Chudzinski’s voice Sunday after dissecting the tape of the Colts dissecting the Browns, 27-6, Saturday night in Indianapolis.
It was Chudzinski’s first loss as a head coach.
The starters on offense and defense from both teams played the first half and one series of the third quarter. The Browns starting offense got an extra series in the third quarter because they were so stagnant in their first six possessions. While the starting offense and defense from both teams were on the field, the Colts outscored the Browns, 17-0, made 19 first downs to the Browns four and outgained them 250 yards to 109.
“As I mentioned the first two preseason games as well as after last night’s game,” Chudzinski said. “I want to make sure we put this in perspective.
“It was a preseason game. It was a real good learning opportunity for us playing against a really good team — a good offense, a good defense and good special teams. It’s a good chance for us to evaluate ourselves and evaluate our personnel. I do believe as I looked at the tape and we went through it and talked as a staff that the things we can address are correctable.”
The Browns did not turn the ball over against the Rams or Lions. Greg Little lost a fumble at midfield in the second quarter Saturday and third-team quarterback Brian Hoyer threw an interception late in the game that was returned for a Colts touchdown.
Starting tackles Joe Thomas and Mitchell Schwartz each committed costly penalties.
Thomas was called for holding on the Browns first possession, turning a third-and-5 at the Colts 39 into a second-and-18 at the Browns 42. The Browns did not make a first down and had to punt.
Schwartz was flagged for unnecessary roughness on the Little fumble, which meant the Colts with Andrew Luck at quarterback started their drive on the Browns 35. Starting free safety Tashaun Gipson slowed the punishment inflicted by Luck with an interception at the Browns 2.
Brandon Weeden avoided throwing an interception for the third straight game, but not much else went right for the second-year quarterback. Weeden completed his first five passes, but only seven of his next 20.
Weeden’s passer rating Saturday night was 59.6. He carried a 139.8 rating into the game after completing a combined 72 percent of his passes against the Rams and Lions.
Chudzinski disagreed when a reporter suggested Weeden played the way he did as a rookie last year.
“I don’t see it as any sort of comparison toward 2012,” Chudzinski said. “I think it was a combination of things; we had some protection breakdowns. There were some pressures and he got hit a couple times when he was getting rid of the ball. Early in the game, he was going through his progressions and hitting mostly shorter passes.
“They covered very well. There were a number of times there really weren’t guys open. We had some drops and we did have some missed opportunities. He can play better and he has, and we can continue to help him.”
All rosters have to be down to 75 by 4 p.m. Tuesday and down to 53 by 6 p.m. Saturday. Normally, teams scanning the waiver wire build from the bottom up.
Chudzinski, as all coaches do, said the Browns are looking at all positions, but they might not be as desperate for a right guard as they were last week when they traded defensive end Brian Sanford to the Seahawks for John Moffitt. The Browns voided the trade because Moffitt failed his physical.
Oniel Cousins started against the Colts and rookie Garrett Gilkey also took some first team snaps at right guard. If nothing changes, Cousins will start against the Dolphins in the season opener Sept. 8.
“I’ve been comforted by Oniel’s performance in the game and Gilkey’s development,” Chudzinski said.
Shawn Lauvao, normally the starting right guard, is recovering from arthroscopic ankle surgery and could be out until mid-September.
Normally the starters do not play in the final preseason game, but Chudzinski said he is thinking about having them play Thursday night in Chicago.
“Obviously the two things you’re weighing are putting them out there and exposing them in a preseason game to injury vs. learning a new system and wanting guys to get reps,” Chudzinski said. “We’re playing a lot of young guys that haven’t played a lot of football in the NFL.”
Chudzinski is considering using the starters, even briefly Thursday, because otherwise they will go 15 days between games.
Graham moves ahead
Shayne Graham kicked field goals of 50 and 44 Saturday and is 3 for 3 in the preseason. Chudzinski said Graham is ahead of rookie Brandon Bogotay to replace Phil Dawson as the Browns kicker. Bogotay has a groin injury and did not kick in Indianapolis.
Returning to practice
Linebacker Jabaal Sheard (knee), wide receiver Davone Bess (knee), tight end Gary Barnidge and wide receiver Jordan Norwood (hamstring) will return to practice Monday.
Wide receiver David Nelson missed the first three preseason games with a knee injury. He will play Thursday, Chudzinski said.