The Redsk.....er, Washington Football Team gave up five turnovers to the Browns in a 34-20 loss. Football Team QB Duane Haskins threw three interceptions that allowed Cleveland to go ahead twice for the win and boost their record to 2-1-0.
So, how did the Browns do? They played great at times and took advantage of costly turnovers while not turning the ball over themselves with few penalties as they gave the WTF, or WFT, numerous chances to remain in the ballgame.
Who played great for Cleveland? Who didn’t? Glad you asked.
S Karl Joseph - In college, Joseph was known for his excellent tackling abilities and booming hits. That was on display today against the WFT as Joseph had a career game. He had six total tackles, knocked down several passes plus had one of three interceptions. But his key dependable tackling skills were on point. The hit of the game was by Joseph in the first quarter when rookie WR Antonio Gandy-Golden lined up in the backfield and ran 22-yards around left end and seemed to have a clear shot at the end zone. That is, until he heard the boom of his own body being slammed to the turf. What Browns’ fan can’t wait to see the tandem of Joseph and Grant Delpit every Sunday?
RB Nick Chubb - In the first half, the Browns were having issues running the ball against this stiff Washington front four. But the run game improved in the second half. Chubb scored his first touchdown out of pure determination as he made four would-be tacklers miss (actually, it was three as safety Troy Apke missed, got up and then missed again). The 19 carries for 108 yards is not the impressive part - the 5.7 yards average per carry is to go along with his two total scores.
Play calling - Who yelled at the TV screen when Cleveland decided to go for it not once, but twice on fourth downs? Well, both were successful and were the catalyst to two scoring drives. Kevin Stefanski used the short passing game to set up the run game without any rollout plays for QB Baker Mayfield to keep the opposition’s defensive line in their own lanes. 10-12 yards routes by Jarvis Landry and OBJ were key with limited pocket time and resulted in several first down plays. When the WFT reeled off 13 unanswered points and went up 20-17, the game plan remained intact while the panic button wasn’t pushed.
Defense - There was constant pressure on Haskins for most of the game. This allowed the back seven more time to deal with open holes for wide receivers to roam and recover. Sheldon Richardson, Myles Garrett, Porter Gustin and Larry Ogunjobi were a constant either getting to Haskins, just missing the quarterback, batting down key third downs or giving Haskins an atomic wedgie. Four fumbles (two recovered) plus three INT’s is a career day for DC Joe Woods’ unit. Nice job coach.
Kareem Hunt’s circus catch - Although Hunt played well, his one-handed body twisting catch all alone in the left flat deserves a Brownie all by itself. Yes, he had a nine-yard passing touchdown in the second quarter, but this catch was epic. All it needed was to keep that second foot inbounds, gotten off the ground and sprint into the end zone. Nice contortion.
RT Jack Conklin & RG Wyatt Teller - The Browns had issues running the ball in the first half, but found if they went to their right there was open ground due to Conklin and Teller. It was Teller who pulled to the leftside to clear the path on Chubb’s 16-yard touchdown.
CB Denzel Ward – The starting left corner had a bad first half to say the least. Cleveland had built a 17-7 lead only to have Washington get back into the game in the third quarter. With 2:24 to go, Haskins looked off his first two receivers. Third-stringer Dontrelle Inman gave Ward a head bob to the outside, which Ward bit on, then simply veered to the center of the field with Ward behind him. Ward also missed a sure interception that hit both his hands before being smashed by the wide receiver.
Lack of TE play - Wasn’t this supposed to be a tight end heavy offense? Apparently the game plan did not include any of the tight ends against the WFT. Rookie Harrison Bryant had only two targets with one being a touchdown in the end zone. Austin Hooper had three catches for 25 yards with one that critical fourth-and-seven catch in the first quarter. Both of these men were mainly blockers for most of the contest.
LT Jedrick Wills, Jr. - The rookie had all he could take from Football Team’s right defensive end Montez Sweat whom Wills has not seen since his SEC playing days. Sweat was a beast and had inside moves that Wills just couldn’t figure out all game. Sweat’s sack, two tackles for loss plus four QB hits were all on Wills. Mayfield was flushed from the pocket six times with five being Sweat with Wills trying to catch him. Hurried throw to a wide-open Hunt in the left flats? Sweat. Mayfield’s intentional grounding call with a man all over him? Sweat. Hunt’s five-yard loss in the backfield? Sweat. Nine-yard sack of Mayfield in the third quarter? Sweat. Perhaps the experiment of taking a career right tackle and forcing him to play the leftside is winding down.
Third and long - Just as the Browns would get a lead and then the defense would force a punt, the offense would be sunk into long third down plays. Eight different plays were third-and-six or longer. This included a 3-19, 3-18 and a 3-12.
Milk Bones – itchy and then silky smooth
QB Baker Mayfield – The first half wasn’t very kind to Mayfield, but he rebounded well in the second half and didn’t cave when Washington came back and took the lead in the third stanza. Nice short routes were his destiny today. Found Bryant cleanly in the end zone and didn’t fire with hard velocity today which allowed receivers to catch with their hands more readily. The circus catch to Hunt was a touchdown, but he had to hurry to get the ball out.
Special Teams - K Cody Parkey hit on both field goals and all four PATs while P Jamie Gillan was called on five times with a 45.8 average with one punt rolling forward for 57 yards. But the kick coverage team allowed too many decent returns. PR JoJo Natson returned the first punt of the season and remains a non-factor for the speedster. Charley Hughlett does not get enough credit for being one of the league’s best long-snappers.
LB Malcolm Smith - The veteran replacement for Mack Wilson is a good run stopper but has had issues covering tight ends. Today, he caught an interception at a crucial spot which then led to a Mayfield to Hunt touchdown pass and a 17-7 Browns’ lead.
WR Jarvis Landry - The Pro Bowler had four catches on four targets, but his blocking downfield were stellar in this game. In the first quarter, it was Teller pulling and then Landry taking out the DB to spring Chubbs for a 16-yard touchdown and a 10-7 lead. Sometimes stars are given to those who serve instead of those who shine brighter.
As a Browns’ fan, were you happy with the play of the defense?
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