The Browns looked great last week against the Cincinnati Bengals then faced the 5-4-0 Patriots this week in a game that both clubs needed. In the end, Cleveland looked like a B-team as New England did whatever they wanted and came away with a 45-7 ass-whooping of the Browns.
So who played well for the Browns? In fact, did anyone? Who didn’t?
P Jamie Gillan - Known for much of the year as a lower third punter, today he shined. Four kicks for 189 total yards with a 47.3 average. Gillan had two kicks land inside the 20 including one 59-yarder that finally stopped rolling at the two-yard line with 11:51 left in the second quarter.
Offense opening drive - The Browns took the kickoff and methodically moved the rock down the field like a playoff team. Cleveland began at their own 16-yard line mainly behind the running of D’Ernest Johnson who popped off a key 24-yard run provided by RG Wyatt Teller and C J.C. Tretter and later a 19-yard scamper behind Teller. A few short passes mixed in to tight ends Austin Hooper and Harrison Bryant and suddenly the Browns had set up shop on the two with a first-and-goal. Three plays later and without a score, head coach Kevin Stefanski went for it on fourth down. Baker Mayfield found Hooper for the touchdown. 14 plays, 4:55 of clock and an instant 7-0 lead looked pretty convincing that this offense was continuing from last game’s success.
LB Anthony Walker - There was a lot of yardage gained up the middle against the Browns defense, but Walker was a busy man making numerous tackles. Finished with eight total tackles.
RB D’Ernest Johnson - Down 38-7 early in the fourth quarter, it was Johnson still grinding those legs in an attempt to gain a yard or two more. Finished the game with just 19 carries for 99-yards, but 58-yards of that was in the first drive alone. Why wasn’t he used the remainder of the game? Johnson added 58-yards receiving and had a solid game.
Third down - The Browns were a horrible 1-8 on third downs with the one converted on a penalty. Meanwhile, the Patriots gobbled up yardage on third down taking 6 of 7 in the first half alone and 7-9 for the contest. Four conversions were for nine yards needed or greater including a third-and-13.
RT Blake Hance - The fill-in for Jack Conklin just could not handle Matt Judon and in the second half Hance had no legs left. Yes he struggled all game, but why didn’t the offense line up a tight end to help out or at least chip? Judon dominated the fourth quarter while Hance trailed him.
Run defense - This game has to be one of the worst run defense efforts all year. RB Rhamondre Stevenson was a man on a mission to find open holes and did frequently. He finished with 100-yards with two touchdowns. Most of the yardage gained was up the gut with an occasional scoot to the outside. DC Joe Woods did not have an answer to what has been a very good run defense all year.
Coaching - Not sure which was worse, deciding how to stop the run, how to contain the Patriots’ tight ends from catching passes, or the play calling. With as much success the offense had in that opening drive, yet D’Ernest was sparsely used the remainder of the game. The tight ends were a source of gains early, and then never saw any balls until late in the fourth quarter. How can a tight end just go out two-yards into the end zone and nobody picks him up? Why weren’t linebackers situated in the running lanes more? Or at the very least bring down a safety and sit him in a gap.
99-yard drive - Yes, this Browns’ defense allowed the Patriots to march down from the almost one-yard line to score after an awesome punt by Gillan pinned them down deep. Ridiculous. The Pats converted on a third-and-one, 3rd-5, and third-and-9. Two possessions earlier New England scored on a 93-yard drive.
CB Greg Newsome - The rookie still hasn’t learned to turn his head to see where the ball is. There were several plays that if he did, he could have intercepted the ball or at least batted the ball down. Instead, he reeled in two pass inference calls one on a crucial third-and-five play in the second quarter. With 6:19 left in the third quarter Newsome again never turned around to locate the ball to which it fell into the waiting arms of Patriots’ receiver Jacobi Meyers who gained 26-yards on a third-and-nine play. Two plays later New England went up 21-7.
Wide receiver play - Where were the receivers in the game plan? 12 targets all game amongst four players with five catches for 42 yards. Really?
Tight end coverage - All game New England tight end Hunter Henry could not be stopped and caught all four of this targets. Neither JOK, Mack Wilson or John Johnson seemed to be able to get near him on any route. His three-yard touchdown in the first quarter was a toe dragger and excellent throw while his three-yard score in the third stanza was uncontested.
Milk Bones – like finding a $20 bill in the urinal
TE David Njoku - Had a sure touchdown and never tucked it away which became an incompletion. Then dropped a sure pass in the third quarter. Was consistent in run blocking for the game but had only one catch for 11-yards. Yawn.
Going for it on fourth down - While the first attempt ended up a touchdown for the Browns only points of the game, the second one was a fourth-and-19 at the 50-yard line. What did Stefanski think was going to happen? The Browns wouldn’t make and then the Patriots would take their great field position and take it down and score yet another touchdown? Because that is what happened. I get it, you are down 31-7 and the third quarter is winding down. Well, now you are down 38-7 because you wouldn’t punt on a ridiculous down-and-distance. Cleveland converted a fourth-and-seven but missed on the goal line making 2 of 4 for the day.
How would you rate the play calling in this game?
This poll is closed