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. Steelers game in Cleveland.
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.
- PFF ranked all 32 offensive lines again heading into Week 11. Can you guess where the Browns ranked? They were ranked 9th, which goes to show you what two really good linemen (LT Joe Thomas and RG John Greco) and one surprisingly stable one (RT Austin Pasztor) can get you in today’s NFL.
9. Cleveland Browns (74.4)
If the memory of Thursday night against the Ravens is still fresh in your mind, rest assured that the Browns’ offensive line has been better than that most of the season, despite being stressed significantly by the QBs it has been protecting. Cody Kessler has shown promise as a rookie, but holds the ball too long much of the time, and is the league’s most-pressured QB largely because of his own failings, and not those of the line. That being said, this is where the grades begin to fall off and O-lines look seriously flawed. C Cameron Erving has been a major disappointment as a center, struggling to run block or pass protect, while even LT Joe Thomas has shown signs of being mortal.
- PFF ranked the top 10 potential free agents after the season, and Browns OLB Jamie Collins came in at No. 3. They’d better sign him before the end of the season.
3. Jamie Collins, OLB, Browns, 83.2
Despite reports to the contrary, Jamie Collins was not playing poorly before his trade from the Patriots. He’s currently the 14th-highest-graded edge rusher in the league, and would be the 13th-highest-graded inside linebacker if he was still playing that position. Collins possesses the athletic ability to excel in any role he’s put in, whether that’s coverage or pass-rushing. His coverage grade of 84.2 ranks near the top among all linebackers. However, Collins can also rush the passer when asked, as evidenced by the five QB pressures he has in Cleveland since being moved to the edge. He’s arguably one of the most athletically-gifted defenders in the league, and if he decides not to stick around in Cleveland, he’ll be highly coveted.
- Not only does ILB Christian Kirksey lead the NFL in tackles, he leads it in run stops at his position:
Browns LB Chris Kirksey has recorded 29 run stops, the most for inside/middle linebackers. In his first season as an every-down player, Chris Kirksey has had multiple big games where he’s been very involved with the defense. He is coming off of a game against the Ravens where he had 13 tackles, with six of them being stops. The Browns have six games left this season, and two of those games are against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns will need their star defenders like Kirksey to stop star running back Le’Veon Bell in order to secure their first win of the year.
2.Injecting a Little Humor Into the Year: LT Joe Thomas had some fun with WR Terrelle Pryor on Twitter this past week:
There was a little spat that occurred on Twitter between Thomas and one of Pryor’s former Raider teammates, punter Marquette King. You can read all about it here.
Speaking of Pryor, here is a bold prediction I have for this week: remember how much we saw Pryor at quarterback against the Dolphins? I think we’ll see him there for 20% of the snaps this week.
3. Should RG III Play This Season? We’ve already talked a lot about the fact that QB Robert Griffin III should be able to play again this season, perhaps in the next two weeks. Should he, though?
It’s a really tough question to ask. If we’re just talking about talent evaluation, I’d say “yes.” Remember that Griffin spent all offseason as the Browns’ top quarterback. Much of the Browns’ success this preseason came on the deep ball, and that’s probably what Griffin excels at the most. It’s also been the source of frustration this year for head coach Hue Jackson, because it’s the skill that Cody Kessler lacks the most. I think Jackson wants to evaluate the rest of the offense with a big-armed quarterback in there. Griffin is also under contract for next year and could be the starting quarterback.
At the same time do we want to go through this whole entire process again? Everyone knows that Griffin is just an injury waiting to happen with his build. Sure, it wasn’t a knee that he busted in Week 1, but look how long a simple sideline hit took him out for. Can we invest so much time in him for a second straight offseason, knowing that we could see him suffer another injury in 2017?
So, should he start to end the 2016 season? I guess I’d say “yes,” but then I have no idea what to do for 2017.
4. Quotes from the Browns’ Coordinators: Here are some quotes from the Browns’ coordinators this week:
Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton:
On the Browns’ defensive struggles in the second half of games, given the young roster:
“It is really, obviously, we know the elephant in the room – What is going on in the second half? I don’t know. I know coming out of the locker room at halftime, I know they are ready. I really do. We have studied obviously all of our games. I think the comment was made that somebody – the other team obviously – is doing something different. I don’t see it. Obviously, you can see a different play here or there, but very seldom do you go, ‘Wow, they are really changing what they did to adjust.’ What is it? I wish I… It is one of those things we have studied, we have looked at it. You can say on this play it is this, on that play it is that. You look at your calls, are you calling more of something, less of something, something different. I wish I could say it is X or it is Y, but right now, it is not something you can put your finger on and say it is definitely that or them or me or us or something. It is just a combination of probably not making enough plays in the second half to turn the tide somewhere.”
On if he agrees with Head Coach Hue Jackson’s statement that it is tough to ask rookies and younger players to play great football for a large number of snaps:
“I am looking at everything. Is that a plausible reason? Well, sure it is. There has to be a reason somewhere and just we have not been able to… I put it back off of study of making enough plays because somebody is on too much, not enough or the call. There is no one answer because we would obviously change or do something different. I know emotionally we are ready to go in the second half. It is just one of those things that has not come to fruition.”
On DL Emmanuel Ogbah and if he is now in the right spot playing DE:
“I think he is very happy. It gives him a chance to grow and understand NFL football. We always talk about the young guys, and Chris (Kirksey) and Danny and finding, ‘Oh I can play in this league.’ Obviously, where he is playing at now there is a ton of double teams. It is a big man, it is a strength game, it is a power game and you have to learn how to play that in the NFL. He is becoming more comfortable in every – not every day, but every week I challenge him to play faster and faster. He is starting to understand the speed of the NFL game and getting more comfortable. Obviously, we think he has a really bright future, and as Jamie, we will move him around because now he is athletic enough and he is smart enough and he has been in the system where moving him to a different position, meaning schematically, won’t bother him.”
Special Teams Coordinator Chris Tabor:
On being interested to see how K Cody Parkey does in his first weather inclement game in Cleveland:
“No question, yeah. They are calling for some weather. If you are worried about your hair, you probably don’t want to go to this game (laughter). They are talking about maybe gusts of up to 50 (miles per hour) I just saw this morning. He was cold-weather kicker in Philadelphia. With any player, you are always interested to see how they handle the elements. He has to hit his ball and strike it well, which I think he will. You have to play Mother Nature, and you hope that you are kind to her and she helps you out.”
“Yeah, if you have a guy that is in your back pocket. The rules states this: the guy that is hurdling the player, he can’t be at the heels of the down linemen as he takes off before the ball is snapped because if he is at the heels and the ball hasn’t been snapped, he is considered covering up the long snapper, which is illegal. The next thing is when he goes over, obviously, he can’t put his hands down to propel himself up or over so he has to be clean, kind of like what the Denver guy did the other night. Those are kind of the things. If you don’t get it, that is a big penalty on you. The other thing with guys going, guys in the front used to go down so the offensive linemen would drop down so it would make it easier for the guy to hurdle. Now, you can’t do that. The upfront guys, they can only – like the Denver game the other day – with open hands put their hands on the offensive linemen and kind of push them down. You can do that. You are taking a chance that somebody is popping up and then you have a blown knee and you lose your player right there. Guys that can do that, there is a lot of timing that goes into it – do you have snap key off of the holder? The timing has to be just right so you try to figure those things out as you are studying the field goal team.”
Run Game Coordinator Kirby Wilson:
On RB Isaiah Crowell and how the Browns can get the rushing attack’s early success back:
“It is about opportunities. To have that kind of success that you want and the efficiency that you want, you have to have opportunities. What that is saying is that you have to convert third downs to get more opportunities to do what you want, which is control the line of scrimmage and run the football more and efficiently. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened for us lately. We are all not happy about it, and Crow deserves to be frustrated. We are all working hard to fix it. Hopefully, those results will start showing on Sunday.”
On the forecast for inclement weather and if the run game looks forward to those conditions as it may increase opportunities:
“We like to think in our room there are no bad runs ever, whether it be in the first quarter or the fourth quarter, because halfbacks, all they ever think about is their last run and their next run. We are really just excited to try to get the run game back on track and see what results we get from this, but the guys are not happy. They are working really, really hard. They think that this game presents a challenge just because it is not only a division game, but it is an opportunity at home to show your fans that you are capable of playing at a high level and getting back to where you were early in the season. The guys feel very confident about that rolling into this game.”
On how big of a loss Steelers DL Cameron Heyward to injury is to Pittsburgh:
“That has to hurt them because anytime you lose a starter of his quality and his ability, the backup is going to be good but he is not going to be as good or he would be a starter. It is unfortunate for him personally and professionally, but from our point of view, we are excited about going against his backup.”
5. Predicting the Browns’ Week 11 Inactives: I predict the following players will be inactive for today’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers:
Projected Inactives: QB Kevin Hogan, QB Joe Callahan, WR Jordan Payton, OL Jonathan Cooper, OL Gabe Ikard, OLB Corey Lemonier, and CB Tramon Williams.
The only injury question this week is Williams, as he did not practice all week. As stated earlier, I think Pryor will see some work at quarterback, negating the need for both Hogan and Callahan to be active.
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.