Browns' second-half woes are very real

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
11:17
AM ET
A common theme in the Cleveland Browns' locker room after Sunday’s 31-17 loss to Detroit was that the Browns came out “flat” after halftime when they were outscored 24-0.

“Mostly our energy wasn’t there,” tight end Jordan Cameron said.

“We just came out slow after halftime,” linebacker Paul Kruger said.

With respect to two very wise men, it’s more than just being flat.

Because the Browns have led every one of their games at halftime, but are 3-3 and have played poorly in five second halves.

The proverbial proof is in the proverbial numbers:

The Browns have outscored their first six opponents by a score of 78-43 in the first half.

But in the second half they have been outscored 82-40.

When Brandon Weeden starts, it’s worse. The first-half edge is 30-7, but the second-half deficit is 55-3. That number is especially troubling, because when the plays matter most, Weeden has not led the Browns to a second-half touchdown in any of his three starts.

Of course there is Buffalo. But ... even if the second half of the win against the Bills is added -- Weeden played because Brian Hoyer hurt his knee early in the game -- the Browns' deficit is still 55-23.

Which is not pretty.

The details are equally not pretty -- though they should be because individual stats will not be good if a team is being beat like a drum.

Consider:

--- First half rushing yards per carry: 4.5.

--- Second half: 3.2.

--- First half touchdowns: 8.

--- Second half: 3.

--- First half quarterback rating: 84.4.

--- Second half: 63.5

It’s the same defensively. The defense gives up 3.0 yards per carry in the first half, 3.9 the second. Yards per pass attempt goes from 4.9 to 5.9, and touchdowns from four to 10.

Clearly the issue is more than a team coming out flat, and just as clearly there could be a lot of reasons for the disparity.

The opposition might decide to crank it up. The Browns may put too much pressure on themselves. The Browns might lack the maturity or the talent to finish a game. The opposition might make changes that the Browns did not foresee. Or, simply, the other team might just be better.

Detroit’s Reggie Bush said the Lions saw the Browns playing man coverage in the first half. So at halftime offensive coordinator Scott Linehan decided to exploit a matchup with him and the tight ends against inside linebacker Craig Robertson. It worked. And the Browns never seemed to go away from asking Robertson to make some tough covers.

These kinds of points are always made after wins. Nobody ever talks about the adjustment that went swimmingly in a loss, and many adjustments aren’t even noticed by the public at large.

Browns coach Rob Chudzinski called halftime adjustments “overrated.”

But he also admitted: “We’re going to look hard with what we’re going to do at halftime and if there (are) some things procedurally that we may change.”

Because he recognizes that six games is a trend, and something needs to change.

Pat McManamon

ESPN Cleveland Browns reporter

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