Browns guard Wyatt Teller frustrated by lack of 'execution at the right time' in loss
CLEVELAND — The game the Browns played on Christmas Eve against the New Orleans Saints was the kind of game right guard Wyatt Teller lives to play.
It was cold. It was a game in which every yard was going to be a fight. It was a game that should've played right into the Browns' hands with how they're constructed, at least on offense.
Instead, it was the Saints, a Southern team that plays its home games inside a dome, who were the ones who rallied from a 10-point deficit for a 17-10 win. Not only that, they beat the Browns in many ways at their own game, by patiently running the ball.
It's why Teller couldn't help but feel the emotion bubbling up just under the surface as he spoke some 30 minutes after the game.
"It is frustrating, it sucks," Teller told the Beacon Journal after the game. "We play hard, we try to execute. It's just execution at the right time. I feel like we execute, we have all the right plans, and then it's just being able to change and change with the game, the flow."
One could understand a certain level of frustration with some of the Browns' offensive play calls, especially in the second half when it was obvious the weather conditions were making the passing game a relative non-factor. Although the Browns ran the ball 34 times in the game — including 24 carries for 92 yards by Nick Chubb — for 124 yards, they threw it 21 times over the first 54-plus minutes before their final possession.
The Browns ran it a combined 13 times out of 22 plays (59.1%) over their two scoring drives that helped them build up a 10-0 lead with 4:07 remaining in the first half. On the other 28 plays before their last possession of the game, they ran it 15 times (53.6%).
On the final possession, which started with 5:16 remaining, the Browns attempted 10 of the 31 passes they tried for the day. Deshaun Watson was 15-of-31 passing for 135 yards with an interception, including 5 of 10 attempts for 49 yards on the final 18-play possession.
“Just obviously each time trying to put our guys in position," coach Kevin Stefanski said after the game. "Couple of times you had the wind, you are trying to throw possession throws. Felt like there were some opportunities both in the run and the pass. We just didn’t come through."
New Orleans, meanwhile, attempted just 15 passes in the game. It attempted eight of those passes in the first quarter.
The Saints, though, lined up and ran it 39 times, including on 18 of 23 plays over their three scoring drives. Both of their touchdowns came on the ground on runs by Taysom Hill, who lined up at quarterback on multiple plays, and Alvin Kamara, who often took direct snaps in sets when Hill came into the game.
"I think that the defenses we've gone against, they're not stingy defenses, and the end of the game and the cold, where you're throwing a damn near brick around, it's hard to catch," Teller said. "It's sucks. Our defense played hard, held them to 17 points. Everybody was slipping out there, their team, too. Our run game, their run game, but they executed. They got the holes, got to run through 'em and we didn't."
Teller wasn't necessarily calling out one individual as he spoke. However, he wouldn't be the first to point out how the Browns have, be it merely perception or actual reality, seemed to go away from the run at inopportune points in games.
There was a stretch in a Week 7 loss at Baltimore when the Browns went from the 10:05 mark of the second quarter until the 7:39 mark of the third quarter — 13 plays — without a running play, going from a 10-6 lead to a 20-10 deficit.
Other times, it's been due to game situations — vs. New England and in road games against Miami, Buffalo and Cincinnati — that the Browns have abandoned the run. The game situation certainly dictated they needed to throw it once it got to the two-minute warning against the Saints and they were still at their own 47.
Before the two-minute warning, though, the Browns ran it on six of the first eight plays of their final possession. They also had a pass play negated by a defensive hold in that span, turning a third-and-13 into a first down at their 45.
"I mean, I feel like a lot of teams, they sell out to stop the run," Teller said. "Now, when that's your identity, you just gotta stick to it and sometimes it's a luxury of staying in the game when you're down. It's not as easy to run the ball."
The loss on Saturday assured the Browns (6-9) of yet another losing season heading to Sunday's game at the Washington Commanders. The fact they've had three home games they've lost when they've led by double digits at some points only adds to a level of frustration.
What Teller isn't going to do, even while acknowledging the frustrations and disappointment, is allow himself to give up on those in the locker room with him.
"I still love this team," Teller said. "I still love these guys on it. There's no doubt about that. But it is frustrating. It sucks. We fight hard and we've come up short way too many times this year."
Contact Chris at email@example.com.
On Twitter: @ceasterlingABJ
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Wyatt Teller frustrated by latest Browns loss