In this weekly series, I break down the three best and three worst Browns of the week, according to Pro Football Focus. A couple notes before we get to it. First, PFF isn't perfect, these ratings aren't supposed to be the final word. But they do represent the view of impartial observers who watch the game a lot more closely than most of us. For more information on exactly how these ratings are produced, see the PFF website, linked above. Second, ratings don't really compare between positions. A wide receiver with a +2.5 ranking isn't necessarily better than a +2.1 linebacker. So with that in mind, don't assume that the guy with the highest rating necessarily had the best game. These articles are just here to give you a general idea of who played well and who didn't. So let's get to it.
- Joe Thomas: +4.9 Joesus was tired of letting other people take this spot on the list, and decided to assert his dominance. It was another day at the office in pass protection, where Thomas didn't allow a single pressure. It was his run blocking though which pushed him over the top this week, coming in at a +3.5 rating. Tate and Crowell should buy Thomas a watch or something.
- Brian Hoyer: +3.8 Hoyer finally gets in on the fun himself, coming in at number two this week. PFF apparently isn't worried about the low completion percentage, and instead loves his ability to find the open man deep down the field. He also had a +0.5 run block rating, in case you were wondering.
- Karlos Dansby / Mitchell Schwartz: +3.4 (tie) Dansby has been consistently good all year, but this game might have been his best. He was well above average against both the pass and the run, and his signing looks better every week. Schwartz continues his good season as well, giving up just one QB pressure while posting a great run block rating of +2.5, so maybe Tate and Crowell should buy him something nice too.
- Paul McQuistan: -3.1 This was kind of surprising to me, since it didn't feel like the line fell off much when McQuistan came in. PFF has both his run and pass blocking as well below average. This is one grade I'm skeptical of though, because such a bad result should have jumped off the screen, and it didn't.
- Ben Tate: -2.6 Tate is lucky his line is so good, because this week he was not. This actually seems to match up with what I saw on the field. Tate looked like he missed some reads and didn't have quite the burst we're used to seeing from him. PFF also had bad things to say about his pass blocking. Given his history, I think this was probably just a bad week, and he'll be back to normal against the Jaguars.
- Isaiah Crowell: -2.1 I've got to wonder where this rating would be without the ball security issues. A fumble and two botched pitch attempts are probably dragging down an otherwise great performance. Crowell looks like a perfect fit for the zone scheme, and will hopefully excel in a Browns uniform for years to come, but the young fella needs to take care of the rock.
The defense finally game through with a respectable performance, but there's definitely still room for improvement. The Browns were bailed out to some degree by the poor play of the Steelers offense. The only player on the roster with a good pass rush rating was John Hughes, of all people. That needs to change if the defense is going to pull its weight against better teams. The offense was predictably awesome, led once again by phenomenal offensive line play. Losing Alex Mack will hurt, but this team seems to have enough talent to pull through.
Season best: Joe Thomas +11.9
Season worst: Joe Haden -8.7