There were some things that happened in the Browns' loss to the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday that you'd expect to see in a Friday night high school game.
Actually, that would be insulting to some of the fine high school coaches in the area. They know how to put the correct personnel grouping on the field in time to huddle up and get to the line of scrimmage before the play clock expires.
Granted, there are far more personnel groupings and player substitutions in the NFL than in high school, but it shouldn't be as difficult as the Browns made it seem to be against the Ravens. On one occasion, the players coming on the field didn't reach the huddle until there were 10 seconds showing on the play clock. By then quarterback Brandon Weeden knew it was time to call a timeout.
Weeden had to burn off three timeouts because of personnel problems, including twice in the first half. Those lost timeouts proved costly when the offense didn't have enough time to finish off a drive with a possible touchdown late in the second quarter.
Cynics would say the Browns would have kicked a field goal even if they had enough time, but that doesn't change the fact that the coaching staff didn't even give the offense a chance to score six points.
There's no question that the process of calling a play and getting the proper personnel on the field is more challenging than the old messenger system, when usually a guard would enter play to bring in the call. Back then there weren't all the complex personnel groupings and formations that exist today.
In the Browns system, coach Pat Shurmur makes the call with assistance from offensive coordinator Brad Childress. During that time someone on the sideline either calls out or makes a hand signal to inform the proper players to get on the field.
The Browns use west-coast terminology when making personnel changes. If "Tiger" is the call, the offensive formation will include two tight ends, two receivers and one running back. If it's a "Zebra" call, it will be three receivers, one tight end and one running back.
It's really not that complicated, but Shurmur and his staff have made an ordeal of it. Not just three days ago, but all season. There should be an official statistic named in honor of the Browns that determines how many times a team breaks the huddle with less than 10 seconds remaining on the play clock.
Weeden, who's been pleasant to deal with since his welcoming press conference last April, was clearly perturbed by the events of last Sunday. He wasn't happy with his performance, but two terse "no comments" after questions about the sideline problems spoke loudly.
It's common knowledge that Shurmur has to go all out to impress owner James Haslam III in order to save his job for a third season. Powerful men that are used to getting their way don't stick with the status quo when losses pile up like dirty laundry.
Shurmur may well have sealed his fate last Sunday. The cascade of boos each time a needless timeout was called had to reverberate loud and clear throughout the owner's loge.
Haslam is on record as saying he won't make any changes until after the season. Unless the Browns do the unthinkable and reel of seven straight wins to close out the season, it's hard to imagine a way Shurmur will be asked back.
Clearly, the play-calling system isn't a smooth process. Where it's breaking down hasn't been neatly laid out to the media, but you can bet that Haslam has investigated it thoroughly.
As the owner, he had to be embarrassed by what he saw last Sunday.