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. Bengals 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.
- The best one-on-one match-up this week features Bengals TE Tyler Eifert (ranked 6th at his position) vs. LB Jamie Collins (ranked 17th at his position):
Since playing more outside linebacker upon his arrival to Cleveland, Jamie Collins has earned average or above-average marks in each game as a Brown. In Week 14, he’ll likely be among the crew tasked with stopping Bengals TE Tyler Eifert, who, since his Week 7 return, has surged up Pro Football Focus’ tight end rankings.
- Pro Football Focus ranked the Top 25 offensive linemen this season. Browns LT Joe Thomas came in at No. 11 on the list, while Falcons C Alex Mack was No. 8.
11. Joe Thomas, LT, Cleveland Browns (87.8)
For years, Joe Thomas was as good as a left tackle could be when it came to pass protection in the NFL, and while this season hasn’t been quite as incredible as years previous, he has still been a very good performer on the line for Cleveland. Thomas has surrendered 27 total QB pressures, but has been blocking for a succession of quarterbacks—none of whom do anything to help him out in terms of getting rid of the ball, or even remaining calmly in the pocket. Thomas has been excellent this season, but it’s a slight drop on his previous untouchable standards. At his age (32 years old), the question of decline may be looming.
- Even though CB Jamar Taylor just received a contract extension, it is CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun who is getting big accolades from PFF:
Since Week 11, CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun has surrendered a 20 percent catch rate, the lowest mark among cornerbacks. Over his last two games, Briean Boddy-Calhoun has allowed just two of 10 passes thrown into his coverage to be caught. He also has four pass breakups in that time, which is also the best among cornerbacks. This week, the Browns faces the Bengals; in their last meeting, 70 of the 73 yards Boddy-Calhoun surrendered were to A.J. Green. With Green still sidelined, Boddy-Calhoun should be able to maintain his high level of play.
- It’s been a great season for Bengals DT Geno Atkins, but he did struggle against the browns the last time around:
Bengals DT Geno Atkins has recorded 49 QB pressures and a 10.1 pass-rushing productivity; both marks are second-best among defensive tackles. While the Bengals are having a season to forget, and Geno Atkins isn’t playing at the elite level he has at times, he remains one of the best defensive tackles in football. The Bengals and Browns last faced in Week 7, and that was Atkins’ worst game of the season. He was frequently blocked and held without a tackle. This time around, Atkins will look to record a stronger performance.
- Last year, former Browns RT Mitchell Schwartz made his mark with his “shutdown” performance on the Broncos’ Von Miller. This year, with the Chiefs, he’s earning props for his work in the two wins over the Raiders:
In 2 games against the Raiders this year, RT Mitchell Schwartz has not allowed a sack, hit or hurry, so far. #OAKvsKC— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 9, 2016
2. The Parade: On Twitter, Chris McNeil is always a fun Twitter follow if you’re in to light-hearted/deprecating humor related to the Browns. With that said, I am vehemently against him organizing a potential 0-16 parade for the Browns.
My instant reaction to McNeil taking this as far as he has was to tell him to get the hell of our city (i.e. don’t associate yourself with the Browns any more). To me, if you’re a true fan of any team, you’re with them through the good times and the bad times. I then read McNeil’s interview with Waiting for Next Year, where he described his motivation:
“The point of the parade is that it’s supposed to be a fun thing. It’s supposed to be a positive experience. There’s a component of it poking the bear. I’m obviously a huge Browns fan and the team has given us absolutely nothing since they’ve been back. This is just a way for us to blow off some steam and have some fun with it and maybe needle the Browns a bit. It’s not meant to embarrass our fan base locally or nationally. It’s supposed to be a fun, light-hearted take.”
So, I would ask McNeil if he feels good or entertained by others outside of Cleveland laughing at the poor Browns having an 0-16 parade? Does it feel good that it’s demoralizing the players in the locker room even more when they hear about such mockery? There are thresholds of such light-hearted humor that I don’t mind, but this is on a whole other level and I think it’s just a flat out stupid idea — not to make a one-line joke about it, but to actually try to make it a reality.
“This I will say, the Browns have to get a quarterback, they have to use those assets, they have a tremendous amount of cap room which does them no good because who is going to go there unless you trade for [Garoppolo]? And I think he’s in the last year of his contract.”
While I think the Browns will have an interest, Lombardi’s ties to Bill Belichick make it easy to read between the lines and see how they are trying to drive up value for him. Although Lombardi is not in an official capacity with the Patriots any longer, I’d find it surprising if Lombardi wasn’t leaning toward playing favorites to the Patriots. Remember that this is the same guy who basically backed Belichick’s decision to trade LB Jamie Collins, while everybody else was saying, “huh?”
4. Quotes from the Browns’ Coordinators: Here are some quotes from the Browns’ coordinators this week:
Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton:
On how tough it is to lose DB Derick Kindred to injury:
“Yeah, especially hard when it was not on the football field for us and I am sure for him also. For him, it was a process coming on to learning how to play NFL football, and obviously, you want all your players on the field at all times. It looked like he was taking that growth spurt to understand football, how to play and what we ask and expect of him. We want our good players to be on the field, and it is unfortunate that he is not going to be. That is what happens in the NFL. Sometimes you have to just go to the next guy.”
On who will fill in for Kindred:
“Committee. We are just going to play a bunch of guys and let them play and get experience. We will roll guys through.”
On if LB/DE Emmanuel Ogbah has progressively developed throughout the season:
“Yeah, for him, when you are a big man inside, especially a very young big man, I think football is football, but then it is big boy football. It is different in the trenches. I know he is strong, but you put on a different kind of strength in the NFL that some of it is just a will, want to, heart and determination and once you realize that these guys are grown men that you are playing with, it takes a little bit of an adjustment to that type of football. He is growing and he is getting smarter. That is the thing that is hard to quantify is how do guys and how you perceive what they are learning and what they are doing. Sometimes it is as subtle as learning how to take on a double team or where the guy is leaning. He is progressing. My last words to him yesterday as he was walking out, ‘Two sacks.’ He just smiled and said, ‘Yeah, Coach.’”
On if Ogbah will primarily be used as a down lineman or will also play LB:
“We are going to use guys… I was thinking about this yesterday – as you watch all of the film that you watch, you want to have pieces that you move around, chess pieces that you can move around and experiment stuff. I like guys who can play multiple positions, and he can. We are going to benefit from his experiment of standing up, hand in the ground, moving around where you have to account for him at different places. I think he likes that. I think he likes that we envision him as a versatile player and a smart player.”
Special Teams Coordinator Chris Tabor:
On the forecast for wintry conditions on Sunday:
“There is nothing you can really do about it. This is kind of Santa Claus type weather. The wind is blowing. The snow is coming. You have to prepare for it with your gameplan with regards to certain things with how you want to handle things, but we will show up to the stadium and I am sure FirstEnergy Stadium will welcome us with a nice breeze and something off the lake.”
On Bengals K Mike Nugent missing five FGs and five PATs this season and if that is surprising for the veteran:
“He has been around a long time. I have a lot of respect for that guy. He is really good. I know that he is going through a little bit of a slump, but I will say this about the kid – obviously, I just know him from our interactions before the games and I have watched a lot of him, and he has made a lot of big kicks – he is a good player. I know that he battling right through it. At the same time, we have to be worried about us and we have to try to put some pressure on him, just like we do any kicker, and force some misses and/or get a block. We are going to try our best to do that.”
On if it is possible to game plan toward a K who has missed multiple kicks to help continue it:
“His misses have been is he is just kind of pushing the ball right a little bit. He made one last week where it hit the upright and it went in. I just think he is getting the ball off in good timing, and he is getting good lift. Is not like they are low kicks. They just happen to be leaking a little bit on him. Every week, we try to scheme something up with regards to maybe personnel in the front and those types of things. This is no different. They have done a nice job with their protection and their operation. We have to operate our fundamentals to try to put some pressure on them. A lot of times when you do see blocks, someone’s technique has been flawed and someone gets home. Hopefully, that can happen for us.”
Run Game Coordinator Kirby Wilson:
5. Predicting the Browns’ Week 14 Inactives: I predict the following players will be inactive for today’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals:
Projected Inactives: QB Josh McCown, QB Kevin Hogan, OG Alvin Bailey, OL Gabe Ikard, DE Tyrone Holmes, CB Marcus Burley, and DB Trae Elston.
This is the toughest inactive list to project in awhile because of recent changes, like Robert Griffin III coming back, Jordan Payton being suspended, and Derrick Kindred breaking his foot. With Cody Kessler as the backup, I think the team will live with two quarterbacks plus Pryor active. Jonathan Cooper is getting the start at right guard. I think the team promoted Anthony Fabiano from the practice squad because they felt they don’t have a center if Cameron Erving gets hurt. At that expense, Alvin Bailey would then be inactive. If Cooper then goes down, Austin Pasztor could move to right guard, with Shon Coleman going in at right tackle.
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.