Both the Browns and Bears went to the playoffs last season, so this was supposed to be a very good matchup. And it was - for one half. In the end, Cleveland dominated the clock en route to a 26-6 drubbing of the Chicago Bears.
So let’s get right to the meat and potatoes. Who played well for the Browns? Who had better games?
DE Myles Garrett - Let’s just jump right into this man-child’s business. The perennial Pro Bowler just cemented his first ballot selection for the Pro Football Hall of Fame with a single game franchise sack record of 4.5 sacks eclipsing Andra Davis’ 2003 mark. Seven total tackles, four tackles for loss, six QB hits, three pressures and one hurry only told some of the story of a very dominating day. Found out he is faster than Bears’ QB Justin Fields.
RB Kareem Hunt - The former NFL rushing champion reminded everyone what he pedigree is despite sharing the work load in Cleveland. 10 carries for 81 yards, but also had six receptions for 74 yards. With less than a minute to go in the third quarter, Hunt busted to the rightside on a screen where both guards Wyatt Teller and Joel Bitonio had pulled and created a huge lane. Hunt hit the hole in stride and then gained 23-yards to the Browns’ 41. Three plays later, Bitonio had once again pulled and kicked out Chicago’s Bilal Nichols to which Hunt turned upfield, stiff-armed Deon Bush and then outran three defenders to make it 20-6.
K Chase McLaughlin - Appears the Browns finally have a kicker. The proof was an early 57-yard field goal to tie the game at three apiece. Later he nailed three others from 41, 52 and 28, was 2-2 on PATs, and scored 14 points. Now maybe head coach Kevin Stefanski will try more long fields instead of going for those near midfield fourth down plays.
Time of possession - All game long, it seemed Cleveland always had the ball on offense. Although the Browns’ longest drive of the day only took 5:35, the other drives were decent and only one three-and-out all game. Total time: Cleveland 38:34 to Chicago’s 20:26. They can’t score if they are lounging on the sidelines.
Defensive effort - Is this correct? 68 passing yards and just 46 rushing for the Bears? Now deduct 67 yards for the nine sacks for this Cleveland defense. Chicago could not run against the Browns especially up the gut. The defensive backfield with Denzel Ward, John Johnson and Ronnie Harrison blanketed their man. Good effort for DC Joe Woods.
WR Odell Beckham, Jr. - Welcome back OBJ. Missed you. The Pro Bowl receiver was playing for the first time since last season’s ACL injury derailed his year plus subsequent surgery. Played hard all game with nine targets with five catches for 77-yards including the first two receptions of the game. Had several nice downfield blocks to help Hunt. Beckham honored his fellow fallen teammate Jarvis Landry in warmups with a “Juice Landry” T-shirt. In the third quarter he snared a key third-and-seven for a 26-yard completion which ended in a 41-yard McLaughlin FG and increased the lead to 13-3.
Offensive drive before the half - This was a thing of beauty and not only added seven points for a 10-3 lead, but spiked the offense’s confidence while setting a precedence to Chicago’s already frail defense. Cleveland got the ball with 2:54 remaining on their own 11 after a penalty on the punt. 12 plays, 89-yards, 2:35 total time used, and almost nothing left on the clock after TE Austin Hooper’s 13-yard touchdown reception from Baker Mayfield.
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah - JOK was everywhere in the first half. In the second quarter he met Garrett to sack Fields that killed a good drive. Had four total tackles, one tackle for loss, one QB hit and knocked down two passes. Is able to read the run vs. pass readily to be so green.
Stopping the Bears’ offense on third down - This was a major plus all game as the Bears only converted 2 of 11 third down attempts. They also failed on their only fourth down try.
LG Joel Bitonio - Had a disastrous first half and then settled down for the final two quarters. Early on, the Pro Bowler did not have an answer for the Bears’ Mario Edwards. Bits was responsible for two of the five sacks on Mayfield. Halfway through the second quarter, rookie nose tackle Khyiris Tonga got past Bitonio quickly and nailed Nick Chubb for a one-yard loss. Two plays later, Edwards got a sack to which the eight play drive ended with a punt. In the third quarter, Bitonio had a holding call on a Chubb first down run.
Third down conversions - As the Browns had success on keeping the ball on offense, they could not buy a first down from a third down play. In the first half they were 2-8. With 5:15 left in Quarter number three, they had their first third down conversion. Finished with 4-15 attempts.
Refusing points - On the game’s first possession, the Browns went for it with a fourth-and-five after a nine play drive stalled at Chicago’s 38. Mayfield was then sacked for a nine-yard loss. McLaughlin has been making kicks in the 50’s consistently in practices, yet a 55-yarder for a 3-0 lead was shelved. Chicago then kicked a field goal. On the ensuing drive for the Browns, as the offense crept down to the Bears’ 20, a third-and-one pass to Demetric Felton failed to gain any yardage. Again faced with getting points, Cleveland went for it and another Mayfield sack was the result. Why is a 6-3 lead a bad thing? In the end, the Browns did not need those six points, but at the time it would have been nice.
Milk Bones – sweet but sticky
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones - Only two targets and two receptions, but he made good on his opportunities with 39 yards and a 19.5 average. Also had a key block on the safety on Hunt’s touchdown run in the third quarter.
Uniforms - Love the 1946 uniform, but they played in the 1957-1959 helmets.
Defensive line effort - Takk McKinley (.5 sack), Jadeveon Clowney (2 sacks) and especially Malik McDowell all had their moment in the sun and helped to keep pressure in the backfield. Nice work fellas.
Penalties on punt returns - There may not be a better unit in the league when it comes to punt and kickoff coverage, but what was with all that yellow laundry on punt returns today? Several good returns by Felton were swatted away and put the offense back and on one occasion all the way back to their own 11.
QB Baker Mayfield - Managed the game very well and progressed his completions as the game rolled along. Went 19-31 for 246 yards with one touchdown and once again zero picks. Rushed for positive yardage when flushed for 31-yards. Was sacked five times. Going into this game, he led the league through the first two games with a completion percentage of 81.6.
What is your opinion of OBJ’s return?
He had a good game
Just average output for me
Happy he is back, but did not set the stat meter on fire