This weekend, the Cleveland Browns hosted the Jacksonville Jaguars, in a game that had all the makings of a trap game. Unfortunately, it was not to be as the Jaguars beat up the boys in brown, 19-7. However, there were some really great moments by the defense, and even the offense showed some promise. So what went wrong? Here are this week’s Browns notes:
1. Shutting Up The Noise: All this week, the Browns faced heavy criticism from former Browns safety, and current Jaguars, Tashaun Gipson. Earlier in the week, he made the statement that the Jaguars would, “hang 40 points on the Browns.” This was followed up by rookie wide receiver, Dede Westbrook coming out and saying he’d get 200 yards receiving on the Browns. Neither would come true as Westbrook would finish the game with 35 yards. Meanwhile Gipson would have four tackles, one for a loss, as Jacksonville could only muster 19 points. Being able to humble someone is sometimes the best type of victory, though a win would still be nice.
2. Two Steps Forward, Four Steps Back: Browns’ rookie quarterback, DeShone Kizer looked to build upon two straight improved games against the toughest pass defense in the NFL. The key phrase there is “looked to”. He would finish the day with 179 yards passing with a touchdown, and 22 yards rushing. However, he was sacked five times and lost 45 yards from the sacks. The damage didn’t stop there either as two sacks resulted in lost fumbles, one of which was the game clincher for Jacksonville. He also threw two interceptions, one that was overthrown and another that was just poorly thrown. The biggest problem with Kizer, and this continues to be a theme, is that he tries to do too much when there isn’t much to do. Part of being an NFL quarterback is recognizing when you have rhythm on a drive and maintaining it. All this said, is it too early to start thinking about drafting a quarterback? Yes, it is. While it wouldn’t hurt to grab someone in the second through fifth rounds to have as competition or back up, to grab one in the first round could be costly. The only way you would grab a quarterback that early is if one of them really shows enough pizzazz to force the decision, which so far, none have. The Browns will need to build around Kizer and see if it works.
3. To be the (Cole)man: This week, wide receiver Corey Coleman came off the injured reserve list and went right to work. In his first game back he had a career high six receptions. He also had 80 receiving yards, the second highest single game production of his career. While it may not have been much, to come off the IR and do that is something that could give this a much needed spark, especially in a position that’s been littered with mediocrity.
4. Defensive State of Mind: During the week, the Browns announced that linebacker Jamie Collins’ season was over with an MCL injury. The Browns trekked on. They were able to sack the quarterback twice, record six plays that lost Jacksonville yards, and forced six fumbles. They allowed only 13 points on their side of the ball. The defense allowed one touchdown which is a step above what many expected. If the Browns can find a way to even out this offense, there could be something to work with. The defense has vastly improved, and that can be credited to this front office, as well as defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
5. “Then the bird said, “Nevermore””: Browns half back Isaiah Crowell has had an interesting season. One week after having a season high 90 yards on 16 carries, he followed that performance up with one so haunting, not even Edgar Allen Poe would dare write it. He ran the ball 11 times, for 18 yards. While Crowell should be getting the ball more, the biggest problem has continued to be that he doesn’t play to his strengths. Crowell is the type of back who should look more to the inside, rather than the outside, yet he continues to look outside. There are also some moments where he’s not looking for the hole, and he misses prime opportunities to gain good yardage. Considering that this draft is being said to have great quarterbacks and running backs, Crow’s time in Cleveland may be up.
6. A look to next week: Cleveland is going back on the road to face the Cincinnati Bengals. Earlier in the year, the Browns lost to Cincinnati 31-7. The Bengals this year are 2-2 at home currently. Once again the Browns will be facing a very tough passing defense, as the Bengals are in the top five in terms of yards allowed. Their biggest problem has been against the run, where they are in the 20’s in terms of rushing yards allowed. Coach Hue Jackson will want to get the run game involved early and often if they’re going to have any success. Cincinnati has the worst rushing attack in football, so the Browns should be able to eat up their running backs. The passing attack in Cincinnati is just A.J. Green, as they are 28th in passing offense. If the Browns’ offense can minimize mistakes and the defense can stop Green, there’s a slight chance they can win.