Revisiting the Cleveland Browns' 25-15 loss to the Baltimore Ravens:
As a coach, you want to be unpredictable. But you want to avoid being confusing. This is where Browns coach Pat Shurmur is getting himself in trouble.
In the fourth quarter, the Browns just had a touchdown pass by Brandon Weeden nullified by an illegal formation penalty. When the Browns lined up again, Shurmur called a running play on third down-and-11 from the Baltimore 23-yard line. This tells me that he didn't trust his rookie first-round quarterback. Weeden had been erratic all game, finishing with two interceptions and a 54 percent completion rate.
On the Browns' next series, after the Ravens took back the lead, Cleveland faced a fourth-and-2 from its own 28-yard line. This time, Shurmur put the ball in the hands of Weeden, who wildly overthrew Greg Little. Trailing by a touchdown with 3:53 remaining, the Browns could've easily punted, especially with two timeouts left. Instead, he gambled with a quarterback who he feared was going to make a mistake in the red zone just a few minutes earlier in the fourth quarter.
"Had we converted it and we moved forward, then it would have been talked about on what a gutsy move it was,” Shurmur said. “Right?”
Shurmur is getting increasingly defensive when asked about his decisions because they all seem to be backfiring on him. It was two weeks ago when Shurmur chose to punt the ball at Indianapolis, where he had fourth-and-1 from the Colts' 41-yard line with less than seven minutes remaining. That's why it seemed strange that Shurmur went for it on fourth down Sunday when the ball was on his side of the field.
Asked if going for it on fourth down was "against his nature," Shurmur said, “What do you mean? It’ll be a fun thing for everyone to talk about this week, just when we lost the game [in Indianapolis] and I didn’t go for it. I don’t know what you’re talking about, my nature? I don’t know you that well. You probably don’t me that well."
When it was brought up that he punted in Colts territory and he went for it on his side of the field, Shurmur said, “You know what, in both situations, the decision didn’t lead us to a victory, did it? So that’s why we talk about it."
STAT THAT STICKS: 1,814 -- Days since the Browns last beat the Ravens. It happened on Nov. 18, 2007. Cleveland has lost 10 consecutive games to Baltimore, its second-longest losing streak to one opponent.
OVERHEARD: "That’s been the tale of the season so far. We get so close, and we start the week off with so much confidence, and for whatever reason when the game’s on the line, whether it’s defensively, offensively, we can’t seem to make that play. You come so close. I’m tired of coming close and not getting over the hump. I’ve had my fair share of close ballgames and not pulling them out, just being fed up with it.” Middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson on the team's average margin of losing being 7.5 points this season.
WHAT'S NEXT: The Browns are the last AFC North team to go on their bye. After a week off, Cleveland plays two of its next three games on the road (at Dallas and at Oakland). The only remaining home game in November is against the Steelers.