x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Point is, Browns can't score

The Cleveland Browns are having trouble scoring touchdowns and the solution does not seem easy to come by. Asked what they need to do to solve the problem, and Pat Shurmur, the Browns coach, simply states: 'Score touchdowns'.

Pat Shurmur, the Cleveland Browns coach, and his quarterback, Colt McCoy, continue to talk over the team's struggles to score touchdowns.
Pat Shurmur, the Cleveland Browns coach, and his quarterback, Colt McCoy, continue to talk over the team's struggles to score touchdowns.

There is a joke floating around Cleveland that goes: why is Browns Stadium a safe place to go during a tornado? Because there’s never a touchdown there.

It is not really that funny, but it has been accurate for more than a month. The Cleveland Browns have not scored a touchdown in their past two home games, and they have a 131-minute TD drought dating to October 2.

Since Colt McCoy’s touchdown pass to Benjamin Watson during “garbage time” of a 31-13 loss to Tennessee, the kicker Phil Dawson has accounted for all 18 points scored at home by the Browns, who have gone 25 consecutive drives without taking the ball across the goal line.

“It’s frustrating,” McCoy said.

“We spend a lot of time working on the red zone,” he said, referring to the area from the 20 to the goal line. “ We dedicated a whole day to it, so we’ve just got to find a way to get down there and punch it in.”

The winless Indianapolis Colts are the only team with a longer current drought (29 drives) than the Browns, who made four trips into the side the St Louis 20 last week but came away with just four field goals by Dawson.

It is almost as if someone has posted a “Dead end” sign near the goal line.

And it is not like the Browns (3-6) have had many chances, either. Cleveland have had only 18 possessions inside the red zone, the league’s second-lowest total.

The worst figure belongs to the Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6), who will visit the Browns today in what, on paper, is shaping up to be a colossal dud.

There are obvious reasons for the Browns’ scoring struggles.

A new offensive system, injuries, a young quarterback and few dependable playmakers have contributed to Cleveland’s inability to reach the end zone. There has been a trickle-down effect they cannot seem to stop or reverse.

“How do you bust free from the touchdown drought? Scoring touchdowns,” said Watson, doing his best to explain the deficiency.

“How do you score touchdowns? Execution in the red zone. How do you execute in the red zone? Execution in practice. How do you execute in practice? Pay attention in the meetings.

“It goes all the way down.”

Pat Shurmur, the Browns coach, also knows his team need to score to win, but he did not have much of an answer when asked how the Browns can end their touchdown drought.

“Score touchdowns,” Shurmur said, adding: “We’ve just have to go out and get it done.”

Said Watson: “We’re all disappointed with ourselves. … We all have questions why and we’re working on solutions, but I don’t have them right now.”