BEREA – The Browns have been outscored 55-3 in the second half of their three losses, including 24-0 by the Lions on Sunday.
A lack of halftime adjustments isn’t the problem, according to first-year coach Rob Chudzinski.
“There’s really not a lot of adjustments. You do things as the game goes on,” he said. “So some of that’s overrated in terms of what you’re doing there. You put a plan together and then you talk to the guys about going forward what you need to do.
“We’re looking hard at that, at what we’re going to do at halftime and if there’s some things procedurally that we may change. But again, the guys are coming out, the energy’s good, their focus is good, they know what they need to get done. It’s a matter of just executing.”
The second-half struggles returned in the 31-17 loss to the Lions at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns had 6 yards on nine plays in the third quarter, failing to get a first down.
The defense was just as bad. The Lions gained 125 yards in the third quarter, 257 after halftime and went 6-for-7 on third down.
“Well, they’re a tough team to defend,” Chudzinski said. “They have a lot of guys that can make plays and I think you saw it (Sunday). If they get you one-on-one, those matchups one-on-one, there’s enough different guys that they don’t have to rely on one or the other.”
Running back Reggie Bush was one of them. After a 14-yard first half with no catches, he finished with 78 rushing yards and 57 receiving with a touchdown.
Linebacker Craig Robertson was beaten in coverage multiple times. He said the Lions used more empty-backfield formations in the second half, including splitting out Bush, which makes it difficult for a defense to match up with five receivers.
STICK TO IT
After a season-high 115 rushing yards in the first half on 16 attempts, the Browns had 11 yards on five carries in the second half. Chudzinski blamed the lack of attempts on the lack of plays from the lack of first downs. He noted coordinator Norv Turner called three runs and three passes on first and second down during the first three possessions of the third quarter.
“You have to look at it from that standpoint on run downs and real run opportunities — what’s the breakdown and what’s the balance?” Chudzinski said.
The first four rushes of the second half totaled 5 yards. The final rush was the lone one in the fourth quarter, a 6-yarder with 1:17 left.
Chudzinski was asked about switching to a run-dominated attack to try to grind out wins because the passing game is struggling and the defense is ranked in the top 10.
“What we need to do is really stay the course from a philosophy, strategic standpoint,” he said. “The run and the pass really go hand in hand of where we’re at right now, and I think we’re improving in the running game. Just to ditch the passing game and go 100 percent run, I don’t think it will be in our best interest. I think we need to continue to get better in both.”
ONE’S A LONELY NUMBER
Outside linebacker Paul Kruger has one sack through six games after joining the team on a five-year, $40.5 million contract in the offseason. He has been close to a number of sacks but hasn’t gotten one since the opener.
The Browns sacked Detroit’s Matthew Stafford once.
“Up front we needed to get to them a little more,” Kruger said after the game. “That’s something that I’m going to be focusing on big-time. I’ve got to get to the passer.”
“Obviously you want more and hopefully we’ll get Jabaal (Sheard) back this week,” Chudzinski said. “I think (when) we get a little more of a rotation where guys aren’t having to play so many plays, that’ll help.”
Sheard, a starter, missed his third straight game with a left knee sprain. Kruger played 60 of 74 snaps against the Lions.
Robertson took the loss hard and put much of the blame on himself. He missed a key third-down tackle and gave up a touchdown reception to tight end Joseph Fauria on the next play.
“I think Craig stood up (Sunday),” Chudzinski said. “You see what kind of guy he is. He’s really, really improved as a player, and I think he’ll get better from the experience.”
Chudzinski said the process of moving on is simple.
“Just like all of us, you learn from what you did, correct the mistakes and this is a new week and once this day’s over and we’re done looking at the tape, we’re moving on and it’s going to be about Green Bay,” he said. “You have to do that as a player. You have to do that as a coach. If you let things dwell or you carry them with you, you’re never going to be able to get better.”
TAKE A LOOK
Chudzinski will send the video of linebacker Quentin Groves’ fourth-quarter roughing the passer penalty to the NFL office for clarification. Many Browns felt the hit was legal.
“What it was explained to me was that he drove him into the ground on that,” Chudzinski said. “That was the explanation I got on the sideline. So he can’t do that.”
The officials also denied a challenge by Chudzinski on an incompletion to receiver Greg Little down the sideline.
“I think it was a call I would guess if it was ruled the other way probably would have stayed and wouldn’t have been overturned,” Chudzinski said. “I had a pretty good look at it. But obviously they didn’t have enough evidence to overturn it.”
Tight end Jordan Cameron played all 68 offensive snaps, joining quarterback Brandon Weeden and the offensive linemen at 100 percent. Receiver Josh Gordon played 65 snaps and Little 62.
** Chudzinski said the offensive line played its most physical game against a good Lions defensive line.
** Robertson was the only starter in the locker room during the 45 minutes open to reporters.