Cleveland gives critics ammo in latest loss

You could hear it in Bernie Kosar’s voice as he provided commentary during the Cleveland Browns’ 27-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts last Saturday.

There wasn’t much that Kosar saw of the Browns to be in a complimentary mood. Brutally honest and unafraid of criticism about his analyses, the former Browns quarterback didn’t hold back much. From quarterback Brandon Weeden’s shoddy performance to the rest of the 90-man roster, the Browns gave Kosar ample ammo to fire away.

Kosar was criticized in many corners for his biting criticism of St. Louis Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens and the team’s receiving corps a few weeks ago. He said nothing that will come back to bite him this time, unless someone has a problem with accurate, constructive criticism.

The third preseason game is billed as a rehearsal for the regular season, but for the Browns it looked more like the first day of offseason training activity (OTA) practices. Weeden looked confused by the Colts secondary, compiling a 59.6 passer rating on a 12-of-25 showing for 125 yards.

Weeden didn’t receive much help from receivers that seemed to suffer from jet lag despite the up-and-down flight from Cleveland to Indianapolis. Sensing a hit from a charging safety, Josh Gordon short-armed a decent throw by Weeden. Greg Little hauled in a pass for what would have been a first down in the two-minute offense late in the second quarter, only to fumble the ball away.

It would be presumptuous to assume that Weeden is no different from last year, when he regressed from midseason on and looked less than mediocre at times. From a coaching standpoint, coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner need to take the positives from stellar showings in the first two preseason games and build off that as the regular season nears.

One of Kosar’s comments that stood out came after Weeden threw a high pass for tight end Jordan Cameron. Kosar noted that the Colts showed blitz (which often means man coverage), but that Weeden should have read zone because both safeties were deep. Kosar didn’t like Weeden’s decision on the throw, saying, “He could have gotten him (Cameron) killed.”

Weeden will undoubtedly study the tape closely and work on the mistakes he made. While he’s doing that it’s probably a good thing for fans to avoid pushing the panic button and give him more chances.

There’s a lot to like about Weeden’s game, starting with a big-time arm. There’s a clear need for an expansion of his ability to read defenses and make quick, accurate passes.

Weeden still has a look of panic on some third-down plays. The result occasionally results in an inexplicable decision and an interception or the near interception we saw against the Colts.

A positive from the loss was the showing of running back Trent Richardson, who took snaps into the third quarter. Richardson had seven carries for 31 yards and one reception for 10 yards.

You can’t stress enough how important it is for Richardson to have a big year. If the offense runs successfully through Richardson, Weeden won’t be asked to carry the load.

The Browns aren’t as good as they looked in wins over the Rams and Detroit Lions, and they aren’t as bad as they looked in Indy. Does anyone think the Lions, who roughed up the Patriots, 40-9, are 31 points better than the Patriots?

There was plenty of talk about a 10- or 11-win season on the radio airwaves last week. That’s as foolish as predicting three wins after last Saturday.

In all likelihood the Browns are probably somewhere between those numbers.