BEREA - The quick-snap play that caught the Browns by surprise last Sunday drew plenty of attention, which proved to be good and bad.
It brought to light an embarrassing mistake that can't happen again if coach Pat Shurmur wants to conduct post-game press conferences without a red face. The attention was bad because it overshadowed other problems that surfaced, including the absence of the offense in the first and fourth quarters.
What happened in the first period should be easy to correct - cut down on all the penalties. The Browns were penalized seven times in the period and were whistled 10 times for 67 yards in the first half.
The fourth quarter was a different story. The Browns couldn't advance beyond their 46, ruining any chances of chalking up a win in week one.
"We obviously have a lot of room to improve," Browns quarterback Colt McCoy said. "We learned a lot from that first game. After looking at it and getting the bad taste out of your mouth and coming out here and starting to prepare for Indianapolis, we'll be okay."
The Browns are a surprising favorite to win on Sunday against the Peyton Manning-less Colts. That would seem to be a stretch coming off a 27-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, who aren't on anyone's mind as a Super Bowl contender.
The first step would be a more efficient performance by McCoy, who was 19-of-40 for 213 yards and two touchdowns against the Bengals. McCoy settled into a groove in the second and third quarters, but there were times he wasn't quick in making decisions.
Part of the problem was that McCoy wasn't given great pass protection. A reshuffled offensive line that has rookie Jason Pinkston starting at left guard and a rotational system involving Oniel Cousins and Artis Hicks at right tackle had some breakdowns.
Coach Pat Shurmur, who doubles as offensive coordinator, saw areas in which McCoy could be better.
"Just in terms of general efficiency," Shurmur said. "There were some of those where you look at it and you say, 'Oh my goodness.' He's no different than anybody. What we're trying to build here are guys that will say, 'You know what, we have to play better.' "
McCoy wasn't far off from Shurmur in assessing his play.
"I think me specifically I can be more efficient," McCoy said. "I think collectively as a group we can be more efficient. The thing we harped on in meetings is you can't play behind the chains and expect to convert on third-and-long every time.
"Efficiency starts on first and second downs. What do you do to stay ahead of the chains? One yard is better than a 2-yard loss. If you can get third and 5 or less, then you give yourself an opportunity to stay on the field and score more points."
McCoy seemed tentative at times. The key in running the West Coast offense is for the quarterback to get the ball off quickly and hit receivers on stride so they can gain yards after the catch.
"In the passing game I think we have to get the running back involved a little more," McCoy said. "We have to understand the coverages a little better, and I have to make the throw. There's a lot of work to do in all those areas."
Team president Mike Holmgren was mildly critical of McCoy during the offseason for shouldering the weight of the team. McCoy seemed to do just that after the loss to the Bengals.
"I felt like we had an opportunity to win, and we didn't do it there in the second half," McCoy said. "We had the momentum, and we were at home. What do you have to do to put this away? We didn't do that."