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. Dolphins game down in Florida.
The Sunday Five
1. PFF Notes of the Week: Each week, we’re going to try to start The Sunday Five off with some bullet points provided by Pro Football Focus.
- Let’s start with NT Danny Shelton and his performance against the Ravens last week. He played in 24 snaps against the run and registered 7 tackles in those situations, leading to a run stop percentage of 29.2%. In two games, he already has about half the amount of run stops he had all of last season!
- The last time Ray Horton was in Cleveland, getting stops on third down was an issue. That’s odd, considering it’s supposed to be a strength of his. Last week, PFF says “the Cleveland defense was unsuccessful in stopping any of Baltimore's eight third-down conversion attempts when the distance measured between three-and-seven yards.”
- RT Austin Pasztor benefited from not going up against pass rusher Elvis Dumervil last week. PFF says that Pasztor “had a clean sheet against the Ravens” in pass protection, leading all Browns players in that category. He was knocked for his run blocking, though, which is supposed to be the area he’s better in.
- PFF’s Sam Monson did a very detailed breakdown on what to expect from QB Cody Kessler.
- PFF labels Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry vs. CB Tramon Williams as a key position match-up to watch this week:
Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry has recorded 3.07 yards per route run when lining up in the slot this season, the highest mark among slot receivers.
With Arian Foster hurting, the Dolphins’ passing game is especially important, and Jarvis Landry has remained their top weapon. Most of the time against the Browns, he will be facing Tramon Williams, who is playing in the slot this year after spending most of his career as an outside cornerback. When Williams has been targeted in the slot, he’s allowed an NFL passer rating of 135.0, sixth-highest for slot cornerbacks.
- Speaking of CB Tramon Williams, he was PFF’s lowest-graded slot corner in Week 2, and RB George Atkinson was the lowest-graded kick returner:
Williams wasn’t horrible versus the Ravens, but he did allow all five targets he saw to be caught for 48 yards. A few of those catches went for big first downs, as well.
- Thanks to a couple of broken hands, it’s going to be tough for either WR Corey Coleman or DE Carl Nassib to crack the Rookie of the Year award. Neither are in the PFF’s Top 10 rookies.
2. Notes from the Assistant Coaches: Here are a few special teams notes from defensive coordinator Ray Horton this week:
On DL Carl Nassib’s injury:
“It is unfortunate. It is a game played really with controlled violence, and he had a freakish hand injury. He got it caught in the guy’s facemask and it broke. We are going to miss him. We are going to miss his energy and his athleticism on the field. He is around here today. He wants to play, but he just can’t. We will miss him on the field. It is unfortunate because he has been doing everything that we have asked and he has been making strides and has been getting better every week. Obviously, it is going to be a little bit of a setback for him, but hopefully, he will pick up just coming back, and it is just a hand injury where as soon as it is possible, he will play with a cast on.”
On how soon Nassib may be able to return:
“I really don’t know. I have seen guys come back. I think it is just probably a function of the stitches and then the pain tolerance for him. I have seen the guys with the big clubs so for him, I’m sure as soon as possible.”
On his feelings about DL John Hughes III’s contract termination:
“My feelings or my emotions? I was sad. I was here when John I think was a rookie and watched him grow up. I preach to our guys as a former player you don’t play forever in this league. The phrase I use is that one time they are going to come and tell you to give me that helmet, give me the cleats and it is time to move on. Sad was mine, but everybody knows, all the players know and if they don’t I keep reiterating that this is a business, and it is a performance-based business, and I would say statistics are important and all that stuff. I just wish him well. I really do.”
On DL Danny Shelton’s production in the first two weeks and how teammates are contributing to his performance:
“At his position because he is closest to the ball, he can kind of help himself. He can make his own hay, if you will. We have been on him to take that next step being recognized as a consistent day in and down in and down out disruptive force in there. He is starting to. I keep saying that he is in probably his [17th] start – I don’t know if he started every game last year for us – but he has to really just take that next step of ‘I can play in this league. I know that now. Now, I just have to show the rest of the league and be a very consistent player.’ He has taken steps that way to and he is working very hard to do everything that we ask him to do.”
On DL Tyrone Holmes’ performance on Sunday:
“We are going to play him more this week. For us, I don’t think it is a secret. All you have to do is watch the film or watch the game and you can see we do roll our guys, and we are going to be a defense by committee. I don’t think there is anything wrong with giving guys opportunity and the guys that earn more opportunities, snaps, play time to give it to them. Guys know that it is kind of the old two dogs, one bone thing that the guy that is going to be the most tenacious is going to probably get the bone.”
On LB Emmanuel Ogbah’s play:
“We need more. He is one of our young guys that we want to speed up. Part of that speeding up process of the game for him is just understanding what his job description is for that particular play and to free him up to play faster. He is coming along, but it is a process where he is a young kid that is seeing a lot. He is seeing formations and he has to understand his responsibility in that and who is going to block him, how they are blocking him. As soon as he understands the speed of the NFL game, I think he will be able to unleash what he can do on the field.”
Here is what special teams coordinator Chris Tabor had to say about a couple of things:
On the blocked PAT against the Ravens:
“It was a low kick. Good protection, low kick.”
On if K Patrick Murray’s low kick trajectory had previously occurred:
“No, it hasn’t. Plant foot slipped a little bit there and just ended up getting it high on the ball. (OL John) Greco did a great job on the inside. The O line has done a nice job in the protection area. It came off low and bad play.”
On if there was a mechanical or timing issue with the missed 52-yard FG:
“No, not at all. It was a missed kick.”
On Murray typically being good from the 50-yard range:
“Yeah, he does a nice job. His history shows that he can hit those. Practice shows that he can hit those. He missed the kick. We will put him out there again for it.”
On if Haden returning a punt was a special circumstance to have two players deep and if it will occur more often:
“That was a little bit of a gameplan deal because of where (Ravens P) Sam Koch puts the ball, you are not exactly sure where it is going left-right. He doesn’t give you a lot of returnable balls, and they were kind of backed up there. We wanted to make sure that if it was, we didn’t want the ball to hit the ground and roll and get some more added net (yards) to him so we were trying to discourage that, plus it puts the ball in the hands of one of our best players on the team. That was good.”
On putting Haden on the punt return unit, given he is one of the best Browns players and some teams are NFL hesitant to allow starters to return kicks:
“Teams that want to win do – (Bengals CB Adam) Pacman Jones, (Steelers WR) Antonio Brown. If that is your best player, put your best player out there. You are trying to win the game. Special teams, we are not going to take a back seat and say because he is a star player we shouldn’t use him. We want to win that game, and it gives us the best opportunity to do that.”
On WR Ricardo Louis development on special teams:
“Getting better and better each week. You see him out there at the gunner. He gets locked down one time and then he comes back the next play and responds and gets down there and beats the double [team]. Blocked really well in the kick return and the punt return game. Might have been a fair catch where you see him take the guy to the sideline and run him right out of bounds. Playing like Cleveland Browns special teams should play. We have challenged him. We want to see him make some tackles now, but his progression has been very good. I said it last week, I’m excited where he’s trending. He proved that again last week. He needs to take another step this week.”
3. A Pissed Off Hue Jackson: On Friday, head coach Hue Jackson kind of ripped in to defensive coordinator Ray Horton during his press conference. What happened? Let’s start with Horton, who on Thursday was asked about the team’s improvements from Week 1 to Week 2. Horton’s answer began with the “ultimately, we did not win” talk, but then he talked about how he was really disappointed that they couldn’t hold on for the gutsy performance that Josh McCown put on:
“I was probably most disappointed for (QB) Josh (McCown). He went out there and played with a broken collarbone and until the last throw had a chance to win. We talked about the heritage of (Pro Football Hall of Fame CB/S) Ronnie Lott getting a finger amputated to play the game and how precious this game is and what guys will do to play in this game. For me, it was disappointing that we didn’t win it for Josh.”
The part that immediately jumped out was when Horton said McCown played with a broken collarbone, because up until that point, Jackson had been rolling with the story that they didn’t know much about McCown’s shoulder beyond him not being ready-to-go this week.
On Friday, Jackson was asked about McCown’s collarbone, and Jackson’s first reaction was to chastise his defensive coordinator.
“First of all, that is not Ray’s job to talk about our offensive players. I think Josh has, I don’t know if it is totally broken. That is different to me what broke is, and what in there is in there. I haven’t been told that he has a broken collarbone. We are just going to work through it. Now, is there maybe a little [fracture] there? There could be. We are working through it. Like I said, Josh is going to be week to week. I think sometimes our coaches, all of a sudden they make comments. I’m sure if you talk to Ray again, he would say he is totally not sure, but anytime when a quarterback can’t play, obviously, you are going to assume the worst. He doesn’t get the medical report that way. I do. Sorry if there is some misinformation that way.”
I like Jackson, but he needs to cut it out with the bullshit when it comes to discussing injuries. He is the head coach of the football team, so he better damn well know the full extent of every player’s health on the team. The team later confirmed that his left collarbone is broken, but is not displaced. If I had to project, he could be ready anywhere from 3-6 weeks from now.
Getting back to the injuries, when Jackson was asked on Friday about whether Murray injured the same knee that he tore his ACL in. His response?
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen him. I have not talked to the kid. I haven’t seen him.”
I’m sure the appropriate people were handling his medical evaluation, but come on, Hue — either stop playing people like they are fools when it comes to discussing injuries, or actually take a more pressing interest in their health and whether you need to make a roster move.
4. Let’s Give Kessler a Shot: We’re starting to get near the end of our stretch of winnable games. QB Cody Kessler didn’t have a good preseason overall, but maybe Hue Jackson will find something with him in the short passing game, especially on some quick passes, considering the Dolphins’ defense has had some trouble tackling. Remember that Kessler’s finest moment was his first pass of the preseason, which was a nice back shoulder touchdown pass to WR Rashard Higgins:
One thing Cleveland could try to do this week is have WR Terrelle Pryor in the mix for some read-option situations. If you do that, though, you have to be willing to let Pryor throw the ball downfield. I have a hunch that we’ll see a huddle this week with Kessler, Pryor, and Ricardo Louis in it, and the team will have Louis fly downfield with Pryor giving him a shot at it.
5. Predicting the Browns’ Week 3 Inactives: I predict the following players will be inactive for today’s game against the Miami Dolphins:
Projected Inactives: QB Josh McCown, WR Corey Coleman, C Cameron Erving, DE Carl Nassib, OLB Corey Lemonier, S Ibraheim Campbell, and CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun.
With five players out this week, I only needed to project two other inactives. Since the team also cut defensive end John Hughes this past week, that opens the door for Gabe Wright to be active. The new center signed this week will almost certainly be active; I don’t think you dedicate that 53-man roster spot unless you need an insurance policy in the event John Greco goes down. With safety Ibraheim Campbell out and Cleveland liking to play three safeties, we could see Don Jones get some defensive work this week...but I have Marcus Burley active for the first time as an extra defensive back.
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.