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Browns vs. Redskins - The Sunday Five

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Cleveland Browns v Miami Dolphins Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images

Each week during the regular season, I take a look at five general bullet points about the Browns, either about this past week, today’s game, or fan-related news. Here is what we have for you heading into today’s Browns vs. Redskins game in Maryland.

The Sunday Five

1. PFF Notes of the Week: Each week, we’re going to start The Sunday Five off with some bullet points provided by Pro Football Focus.

  • I’ve said that Joe Thomas, Joel Bitonio, and John Greco remain a solid trio, and they proved it in the running game last week. PFF said that all three of them had run block grades of 80 or better against the Dolphins, as Cleveland’s running backs had 2.7 yards per carry before first contact.
  • We haven’t noticed the pass rush of rookie OLB Emmanuel Ogbah very much, but PFF credited his work against Miami, saying he logged 2 QB hits, 3 hurries, and 1 batted pass on his 36 pass rushing snaps.
  • One of the problem points I noted about QB Cody Kessler last week was how much he kept throwing to the right side of the field. Per PFF, Kessler attempted just 3 passes outside the left numbers. On passes short or between the numbers, he was 8 of 10 passes for 103 yards.
  • Want to know a surprising reason for the Browns’ improved running game? It’s how well TE Gary Barnidge is performing as a run blocker.

TE Gary Barnidge had one of the best games of all the TEs in the NFL this weekend as his run blocking struggles of 2015 seem to be a thing of the past as he has now graded positively in the category each week of the season.

  • The Browns might have found something on the defensive line with the tandem of NT Danny Shelton and DL Stephen Paea. Below is a piece about Shelton’s performance last week, followed by a key match-up on Paea vs. his former team.

NT Danny Shelton continues to shines in his sophomore as he has recorded half the number of pressures as he did as a rookie while also surpassing the halfway point in tackles and run stops. Against Miami, Shelton recorded 2 pressures and 5 run stops and now leads the NFL among all defensive tackles in run stop percentage and run stops with 18.1% and 13 respectively.

Since moving to DE, Stephen Paea has recorded the best pass-rushing productivity mark among 3-4 defensive ends with at least 10 pass rushes.

In Week 1, Paea primarily played nose tackle, but since then, he’s played almost exclusively as a 3-4 defensive end, and has done very well as a pass-rusher after the move. Over the last two games, he has one QB hit and five hurries on 24 pass rushes. He has been by far Cleveland’s best interior pass rusher on the season. Washington has been one of the best teams in pass protection, so it will be difficult for Paea to get a lot of pressure on Sunday. Washington’s offensive line has a pass-blocking efficiency of 84.5, seventh-best in the league this season.

  • PFF says the best one-on-one matchup in the Browns-Redskins game is WR Terrelle Pryor vs. CB Josh Norman. After three weeks, Pryor is the NFL’s No. 4-ranked receiver, while Norman is the NFL’s No. 3-ranked cornerback. PFF also gave kudos to Pryor as one of the toughest 10 receivers to cover in one-on-one situations.

Last week, Terrelle Pryor put on a show in Cleveland’s loss to Miami, earning the third-highest grade of the week among wide receivers (behind only Doug Baldwin and T.Y. Hilton). In Week 4, he’ll hope to continue that connection with rookie quarterback Cody Kessler, but faces a tough test in Redskins CB Josh Norman. While Norman is coming off a down week against Odell Beckham Jr. and the Giants, he’s still among the league’s highest-graded cornerbacks this season.

  • PFF agrees with me that the Redskins have a favorable match-up with TE Jordan Reed this week:

Redskins TE Jordan Reed has forced five missed tackles on his receptions this season, the most for tight ends.

New teammate Vernon Davis is tied for second, at four missed tackles forced. Tight ends have been a big part of Washington’s offense, and they should remain so against Cleveland. Last week, the Browns allowed Dion Sims to have four catches for 46 yards, and the week before, Dennis Pitta recorded 102 yards on nine catches. Washington’s tight ends could have their best game yet on Sunday.

2. The Decision to Keep K Cody Parkey: Here are a few special teams notes from coordinator Chris Tabor, with an emphasis on K Cody Parkey. Tabor might be tempting fate when he said he hopes Parkey is in position for a game-winning field goal this week:

On K Cody Parkey’s first full week of practice with the Browns:

“He has had a really good week. He really has. I am excited for him to go into this game and have a lot of confidence in him. To be honest with you, selfishly, I hope the game comes down to a game-winning field goal because I believe when we trot him out there that he will make it. I really do. He has had a great week of practice.”

On the complexity of coordinating snap, hold and kick with a FG unit and how much that factored into Parkey’s missed FGs at Miami:

“It is hard, but at the same time, if you had an opportunity to talk with Cody, he is not an excuse-maker. The guy has been to a Pro Bowl. He is an excellent, excellent kicker. Tough circumstances for him. Those things can be tough because you are thinking snap, hold and kick, getting the rhythm, when is the ball coming out, when do I approach the ball and still striking it the way that you want to. It has obviously been nice to have this week to iron all those things out. What I have seen from him this week is the Cody Parkey that we know and watched on tape.”

On if he had to convince Head Coach Hue Jackson to give Parkey another opportunity this week:

“No, he is a good football player. In this league, you don’t go to a Pro Bowl and hit the ball the way that this kids does [if you aren’t]. It was tough circumstances, and he will be the first to tell you that he is ready to jump back on the horse again and go. I’m excited to watch him this weekend. In other areas, he played really well – six touchbacks and the one that they did bring out, I think it was 5 or 6-yards deep, it had a 4.2 (second) hang and we tackled inside the 25. People talk about the misses, but the other things that he was doing were outstanding.”

On the missed FGs going left:

“A little fast coming around the ball a little bit. That is a timing thing, also. If he hits them like he was this week, which I expect him to do, he has had a great week. I am looking forward to it. I think he has definitely fixed that.”

3. Terrelle Pryor’s Hall of Fame Performance: Although it won’t be up until Monday, for the second time in his career, WR Terrelle Pryor will have his game-worn equipment featured in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Last week, Pryor had 144 yards receiving, 21 rushing yards, and 32 passing yards. He was the first player to log at least 3 catches, 3 rushes, and 3 pass attempts since Billy Kilmer of the 49ers in 1964. Pryor was the first player to have at least 120 receiving yards, at least 30 passing yards, and at least 20 rushing yards in a single game since Hall of Famer Frank Gifford did it on December 6, 1959.

In recent years, Browns featured in the Hall of Fame included Brian Hoyer and Travis Benjamin (largest road comeback in NFL history) and Josh McCown and Gary Barnidge (their record-breaking stats against the Ravens last year). Pryor was featured in the Hall of Fame in 2013, when his 93-yard rushing touchdown was the longest ever by a QB.

Even though it might not seem right that Pryor has made it twice over a guy like LT Joe Thomas, fear not: Thomas will no doubt have a permanent bust in Canton one day.

4. An Interesting Rule for Kickoffs: In last week’s Lions vs. Packers game, I learned something new about kickoffs. Take a look at this clip:

The Packers return man lets the ball bounce back into the field of play from the end zone. Then, he runs out of bounds and touches the ball (which is sitting in bounds near the three yard line). The official throws a flag. The result? Green Bay gets the ball at the 40 yard line because it’s treated as a kickoff out of bounds.

It’s a play you won’t see often, but it’s also something that special teams coordinators should hammer in their guys’ heads: if the opposing kicker purposely kicks the ball short and it’s near the sidelines, take advantage of this.

5. Predicting the Browns’ Week 4 Inactives: I predict the following players will be inactive for today’s game against the Washington Redskins:

Projected Inactives: QB Josh McCown, WR Corey Coleman, TE Seth DeValve, C Cameron Erving, DE Carl Nassib, OLB Corey Lemonier, CB Tramon Williams.

There really was no prediction for me to make this year. McCown, Coleman, DeValve, Erving, and Nassib are already out. That’s five players. Lemonier and Williams are doubtful, completing the inactive list.

We’ll see CB Marcus Burley active, potentially in a nickel role. The team has decided not to go with an extra tight end, a move probably necessitated by them already making one more in putting OLB Nate Orchard on IR. After this week, I’d expect the just-signed Cam Johnson to be waived in favor of Armonty Bryant, who is coming off of suspension. CB Joe Haden will be active, but could potentially be an “active inactive.” In other words, the team could basically decide to rest him, but they aren’t going to put eight players on the inactive list.

Game Thread

Our game thread on Dawgs By Nature will go live at 11:30 AM ET on Sunday, which is an hour and a half before kickoff.