Second half is plaguing Cleveland
An alert system to inform football fans of northeastern Ohio that the Browns are missing should be activated in the second half of every game.
For reasons that probably keep coach Rob Chudzinski awake most nights, the Browns enter the locker room at halftime feeling like Superman, only to walk out looking like Clark Kent.
At least that’s the way it’s been in each of the three losses. The Browns have been outscored in the second half by a combined margin of 55-3 in defeats to the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens and Detroit Lions.
“It’s easy to sit back after the game is over and say, ‘We didn’t execute this well and didn’t execute that well,’ ” offensive tackle Joe Thomas said. “That’s what it comes down to. There’s no magic pill to swallow and say, ‘Alright, now we’re going to be better in the second half.’ It’s just a matter of executing the game plan better in the second half.”
Not all the blame can be placed on quarterback Brandon Weeden, although he was on the field in the second half of all three games. The anemic ground game was less effective in those situations, and the defense struggled to get off the field on third downs.
The Dolphins were 0-of-6 in converting third downs to first downs in the first half, but they were 8-of-10 in the second half. The Ravens turned a 1-of-7 performance in the first half to 7-of-9 in the second half, and the Lions went from 2-of-7 to 6-of-7.
“I don’t know what it is,” linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said. “First and second downs we’ve developed a reputation of stopping the run. We have a saying, ‘You earn the right to rush the passer, and that’s playing well on first and second downs.
“Third downs we have to improve in that area. I think if you look at us from top to bottom in terms of yards per play, we’re probably one of the top defenses in the league. We’ve been harping on it the last few weeks.”
Chudzinski will try to change the trend when the Browns play at the Green Bay Packers Sunday. What he doesn’t want to see change is the streak of having a lead at halftime in each of the six games.
“Obviously, there are a lot of different ideas and reasons that come up,” Chudzinski said. “From a coach’s and player’s standpoint it starts with me. We need to get better in coming out and playing in the second half.
“The thing I feel strongly about is it’s not a matter of emotions and energy coming out in the second half because that’s there. It’s a matter of being able to jump back into the game at the same speed you left it.”
Chudzinski will try to change up practice a bit to give the players more of a feel for what it’s like to emerge from the locker room after a short break and not leave anything behind.
“Chud has a couple of things up his sleeve as far as the way he’s going to set up practice,” Weeden said. “Whether it’s taking a break halfway through and say, ‘It’s now halftime. Now let’s come out for the second half.’ He’s good at putting us in game situations where we try to simulate as close as possible.
“It’s all a mindset. We have to come in and make whatever adjustments need to be made and go out and execute them. Unfortunately for us, Detroit did better than we did. We had a great plan. As players we didn’t get it done.”
INJURY NEWS: Linebacker Jabaal Sheard practiced and might be ready Sunday. Sheard practiced last week and was close to playing, only to be deactivated on game day. Offensive lineman Jason Pinkston, who’s on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) with an ankle injury, practiced. The Browns have two weeks in which to activate Pinkston or place him on injured reserve. Defensive lineman Billy Winn (quadriceps) didn’t practice.