Browns offense getting reputation for predictability


Mike Holmgren and Pat Shurmur were supposed to bring a new era of offensive efficiency to Cleveland.

Instead, Colt McCoy has regressed this year and the offense is worse than it was than when Eric Mangini was the head coach. Michael Lombardi of gives a great example of Cleveland’s predictability.

Lombardi says each week, he calls a former coach on the phone and plays a game with him.

“I tell my friend the personnel group, the formation, where the ball is located on the field and what hash mark and describe the motion — if there is any — and ask him to tell me the exact play that will be run. He is correct about 95 percent of the time. No lie.

“The Browns are so integrated into the West Coast system that their predictability is becoming legendary around the league,” Lombardi writes.

The Browns are running the purest West Coast offense in the league.  Other successful teams run West Coast offenses, but they mix up their systems a lot more.

If a coach on the phone knows what play is coming from the Browns, you can be sure opposing defensive coordinators know what’s coming too.

40 responses to “Browns offense getting reputation for predictability

  1. 54 Yr old Browns fan here – sometimes it is truely hard to be a fan of this team..
    Why is it that Holmgren and Shurmer are the last to know this?? The fans know it!!

  2. Should’ve never fired Mangini, who had that team’s arrow pointing up.

    Holmgren couldn’t swallow his pride because he wasn’t “his guy.”

  3. I totally agree with this. I mean, what was their NEW HEAD COACH/OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR and NEW STARTING QB doing during this offseason. It’s like there was a lockout or something. This couldn’t have anything to do with their star player getting a big head and only showing up for 2 games this year.

    I love Mangini as a coach but to say “McCoy has regressed” is a real stretch considering at this point of the season he is still healthy unlike last season when every QB went down with a high ankle sprain and they actually HAD Hillis to fall back on. Plus weren’t they near last place in passing offense in 2010? The Brian Daboll “Give it Hillis” offense is really hard to reproduce without the whole “Hillis” part of it. Instead McCoy has had to play the Hillis part by being one of the teams top rushers. Basically they went from having no passing offense to a really really average one. That is the opposite of regression.

  4. “The Browns are so integrated into the West Coast system that their predictability is becoming legendary around the league,” Lombardi writes.

    That helps explain why Bill Walsh and the 49ers were always getting shut down by opposing defenses.

    People get paid to write this tripe?

  5. if I can guess the play about 75% of the time, something is really whacked out. Predictability = losses. Colt rolls out to the right with that sieve Pashos at tackle, it’s a wonder McCoy is alive.

  6. Browns Offense:

    1st down: sideways pass either incomplete, miminal gain or sack.

    2nd down: run for 3.

    3rd down: pass well short of marker either incomplete, sack or minimal gain

    4th down: punt.

    I want to formally apologize to Eric Mangini.

  7. “Of bigger concern for me is where is all the talent at the skill positions?”

    He’s got a bad hamstring.

  8. Michael Lombardi is the biggest hack in the NFL. He was certain the Browns would go after Kolb in the offseason. He always talks about all his friends he talks to in the NFL anyone wonder why he is no longer in the NFL ?

  9. to mrfrostyj:

    the other 31 teams also had a lockout, many of them with new coaches and personnel. that is not a sufficient excuse.

  10. And by the way I know the Browns are struggling on offense but they are on pace to have more first downs and yards than their opponents for the first time since 1989 and have 3 wins already after 5 last year. Some things are improving

  11. Long-time PFT follower. Never signed up to comment. I’d just read & give thumbs up/down for all you witty commentators. But this article was registration worthy.
    Yes, as name indicates, I’m a Rams fan–sue me. Accordingly, I have a little familiarity w/Mr. Shurmur and his play calling. In short–it SUCKS! Did you hear many Rams fans bemoaning his departure from STL? NO. Why? Because his offense was too (get ready for it) predictable. schweddyjabaals, you are spot on. See week 17 last year @ Seattle as an example of his ineptness. His inability to recognize that defenses had his play calling figured out was maddening. All they had to do was squat the routes, load up the box, and boom–3 & out. So you completed a 4 yard out–big whoop because it was 3rd and 8 (which, btw, your sucky play calling put us in that position). Now, did the system help protect Bradford? Yes and please take note McDaniels. But Bradford ultimately had a good year because he’s Sam Bradford. Shurmur costs us a playoff spot last year. Browns fans, I’m sorry about what you’re going thru.

  12. The mistake was keeping Mangini the extra year. Holmgren didnt want to fire a guy that he liked.

    Browns have no skill position players. Thank you Phil Savage and Eric Mangini. The offensive line has been beaten up all year.

    They have a new coach, new system, and lack talent. And they were hurt by the lack of OTAs and training camp. They also have one of the youngest teams in the NFL.

    For the first time in a long time, they have leadership and a plan. Will it work? No one knows. But give them a chance.

    Funny–the media hawks arent whining that Sam Bradford has regressed? Oh yeah, who was his coach during that break out year? Pat Shurmur!

  13. maybe hillis is a headcase, but it kind of looks like they are putting him out there so they can blame it on him.

  14. Lombardi, no relation to Vince in any way shape or form, was working for a nominal wage as a consultant with Mike Shanahan and the Broncos after he was jettisoned by Al Davis and the Raiders and was so divisive within the organization that the Broncos asked him to leave. Anybody can sit at his or her desk on a Wednesday or Thursday after studying the tape for several days and polling the rest of his or her unemployed buddies and come up with the perfect game plan. Unfortunately, that is not the way the game is played. The play clock is ticking, but you don’t have until Wednesday to come up with the perfect play after the fact.

    The key is to have the answers before the game not 3 days after it is played.

  15. @stlouisramsdomination

    I’m a Pats fan and I feel sorrier for you that you have McDaniels.

    Maybe predictability is THE issue for Cle, or maybe it’s just that their players can’t handle more plays than they have already execution wise so they stay basic. I think we need more than a half year sample to determine.

  16. Sorry browns fans I feel your pain. I am a long time seahawk fan so I know what Holmgren is like. I see your team finishing 6-10. Pray your management doesnt trade away those draft picks. Instead, get another running back, offensive guard, and some receivers. Hey, what’s wrong with some change?

  17. not a browns fan but how has colt “regressed”? his rating is higher for 2011 than it was for 2010… let’s look at facts first boys. he also already has more wins this year (3) than all of last year combined (2). cant argue the facts!

  18. I believe this is why Holmgren has already stated that they WILL be bringing in an OC in 2012. BUT, they have a great one in house, named Gil Haskell….. Not sure why you have to wait until 2012 & demote Gil from the pressbox without a headset to the pressbox or sideline with a headset?

  19. Pretty much holds to Holmgrens track record. When Hasselbeck joined Seattle the team regressed a bit in his second season. Things didn’t really take off with him till he hit his 3rd year starting for the team.

  20. I guess Shurmer really isn’t so great. I defended him a lot, saying his offense was to protect Bradford. I think he’s a smart guy but maybe he should just stick w/ being a QB coach?

  21. Wow, Lombardi. Thanks for stating the obvious. Of course, I’m sure your well-known disdain for the Cleveland organization helped fuel your obvious story.

    But then again, what else are the Browns to do? They lost Eric Steinbach. They have a rookie playing left guard, a 2nd year guy who is always injured at right guard, and the terrible and always injured Tony Pashos at right tackle. Greg Little is the only receiver that is any good. They just cut Robiskie (who was a 2nd round bust) and Massaquoi is more of a 2nd or 3rd reciever (thanks Mangini for that terrible 2nd round in 2009.) Brandon Jackson got hurt in the preseason, Montario Hardesty is an injured mess, and Peyton Hillis has apparently gone Delonte West, sans artillery.

    So, while the front office has been building up the defense the past 2 drafts and via free agency, the offense has taken a beating because of it. I’m certain the next 2 years will be spent rebuilding the offense. Until then, Lombardi and anyone else that feels the need to state the obvious should just stay quiet. We all know.

  22. It doesn’t take a NFL exec to figure out the Browns offense. Holmgren is playing for the draft pick and hoping the Falcons don’t get it together for another year. He built up the D but has done nothing for the offense in the first two years. Joe Thomas, Alex Mack and Ben Watson are the only players that would start for almost every other team. Other than that you have a kick returner and a backup QB as your stars. He can thank Phil Savage and Mangini for them Thomas and Mack. Makes me wonder why someone would pay to go watch them score a TD every other week. Ticket holders are the dumb ones.

  23. @mr.frosty…. see the bengals they REALLY had a new qb 5-2 ? there goes that argument your team has no one to fear on offense draft some weapons get cribbs the ball in space skill positions do matter mr. holmgren

  24. Die-never Browns fan here (and sometimes I don’t understand why). Over the past several years, the Browns have not been explosive. They are afraid to go long, relying on short dump off stuff. If this stops, they may win a few more games.

    Seriously, watch this week’s game… they have a solid line, so they should go long. My guess is that the the will 1-3 times, but one will be a Hail Mary pass.

  25. I’m just not sure what people are expecting from a front office that so obviously doesn’t care about bringing in a quality coaching staff and free agents.

  26. Whats all this “I’m sorry Mangini” crap? He took the Browns to two 5-11 seasons after bringing half of the Jets practice squad to Cleveland with him. Crennel never should have been let go. With him the Browns went 10-6 and missed the playoffs. the next season their schedule was tough and they had injury problems. That year the Bengals went 10-6 and won the division and Crennel was let go. Just another ridiculous chapter, it’s actually opened my eyes as a Browns fan and a football fan in general. How am I supposed to keep rooting for the guys on the field when the front office is a disaster and shows no signs of improving. Sure pay Cribbs the money, let Hillis go, keep McCoy around, keep running slant routes and five yard hitches and every once in a while sneak a twenty yarder to a tight end. Don’t forget to fire Shurmur after two years of less than mediocrity and get the fans all excited for a new coach. Im not sick of the Browns as a team, I’m sick of the Browns as an organization.

  27. The predictability makes the whole offense look bad. All 11 players are handicapped when the other team knows the plays.
    Maybe our line and receivers are at least average….if given plays that the other team can’t predict.
    With a young team trying to rebuild and learn their way in the NFL….picking a rookie head coach did/does not provide a mix for optimum success.
    One thing about Shurmur. Bill Bilichick would not have to have the Browns video taped. Everyone knows what’s coming with Shurmur calling the plays.
    I do have to say that McCoy is an enigma. I know the play calling isn’t helping him. I know many of his colleagues are less than average. But, I can’t understand so many bad throws and late throws this year. That part of his play is a regression. A young quarterback can become shell shocked. It’s ruined budding careers. I hope Shurmur has not done that to McCoy with his predictable offense.
    Shurmur might think he’s helping McCoy with such a basic offense when in reality he’s not. Franchise quaterback or not….I have to pat McCoy on the back for his toughness in hanging in there.

  28. Yeah its getting kinda sad that as a 21 year old browns fan i can call out what colt is going to do before the snap. It was 3rd and 10 and my brother in law was like do you think they are going to run it to throw them off. Im like not initially, colt is going to hike the ball to pass but he will find no one and run and get the first down………..i hated being right that time.

  29. Growing up in pittsburgh. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a brownies fan! That would be bizarro world. I feel bad for you lenke08. 21yrs old & dont know what its like to celebrate anything! You were dealt a bad hand sir. You will see a real team in about 3 weeks….Enjoy!

  30. steelersownyou says:
    Nov 6, 2011 7:27 AM

    Growing up in pittsburgh. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a brownies fan! That would be bizarro world. I feel bad for you lenke08. 21yrs old & dont know what its like to celebrate anything! You were dealt a bad hand sir. You will see a real team in about 3 weeks….Enjoy!

    No need to wait 3 weeks. Anyone can watch a “real” team (like the Packers) on any given Sunday.

    You guys (Steeler fans) remember how real the Packers are, right? 😉

  31. Td40….count real super bowls. Not fake ones from the 50’s when there was 7 teams in the league! No team has won more games. More championships & been greater than the pittsburgh steelers. You know it. I know it. The world knows it. Deal with it. Plus packers will lose to chargers tonight! You just been hit with a hard dose of reality son!

  32. Weird how a browns fan like td40. Aka hillis. Who is an absolute mess by the way. Comments and says a real team is the packers because his browns team is so awful he has to refer to another team that got 3 turnovers & lucked out to beat us! Now thats comedy! Only in cleveland ladies & gentlemen!

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