To say that the Browns off-season was a whirlwind is like stating a hurricane is a blustery day. And of course front-and-center was the change of quarterbacks.
The Deshaun Watson circus rolled into town and had a lot of peaks and valleys to say the least. But now that has resolved, the season began against the Carolina Panthers.
Normally, this would be just another opening game for Cleveland. However, they now faced Baker Mayfield who they drafted first overall in the 2018 NFL draft. This was a draft that also featured QB’s Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson both of which Cleveland passed on and have had quite a bit of success for their respective clubs.
Facing Mayfield was a Catch-22 for Browns fans who still remained loyal to their former signalcaller and was once held as the hope of the franchise. He is part of what CBS Sports called the “Revenge Tour” with Mayfield playing against Cleveland, Joe Flacco facing the Baltimore Ravens plus Russell Wilson facing off against Seattle.
In the opening game, rookie kicker Cade York nailed field goals of 26, 34, 36 and 58 yards to help Cleveland secure a 26-24 win.
So who played well for the Browns? Who didn’t?
K Cade York - Nailed the 58-yarder with room to spare to win the game. Converted on all four of his field goal attempts plus was 2-2 on extra points. What a weapon. Can you say AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for the rook in his very first NFL contest? Makes you wonder why the Browns still go for these insane fourth-and-long attempts inside midfield when they could have three points instead.
RB Nick Chubb - The veteran just keeps churning out yardage even after the first hit. Hit over 100-yards in the third quarter and 141 for the game. Simply a workhorse.
Panthers opening drive - This Browns defense just stymied Mayfield as Carolina had five plays for minus one yard with just 1:31 of possession.
P Corey Bojorquez - First punt dropped at the five, Next kick out on the nine. What a weapon. Finished with four kicks for 187 yards with a 46.8 average and two punts dropped inside the 20.
DC Joe Woods’ strategy of dealing with Mayfield - Throw those hands and arms up at the line of scrimmage and deflect passes. This worked consistently all game as the Browns batted down seven passes. The defensive front four were constantly in the Panthers’ backfield on passing plays using just four guys with occasionally sending Anthony Walker. Woods rotated his defensive line in-and-out all game which kept fresh legs.
Browns front office for trading Mayfield - Short-armed passes, overthrows, four fumbled snaps, poorly-thrown balls while on the run, throws behind receivers, turnover prone. He is Carolina’s problem now.
RB Kareem Hunt - Excellent running with great patience. His second score was a thing of beauty as C Ethan Pocic blocked down on DT Matt Ioannidis, Teller pushed aside LB Cory Littleton, TE David Njoku pancaked DE Amare Barno while Hudson held his ground against Phil Hoskins. The hole just opened like it was drawn up.
Defense defending third down - Carolina was 1-7 converting third downs in the first half and 3-11 for the game. Well done D.
DE Myles Garrett - After a relatively quiet first half, his sack on Mayfield at the 6:05 minute mark in Quarter 3 was a lesson that you don’t expect a rookie tackle (Ikem Ekwonu) to attempt to try to pull on Superman’s cape. The very next play, Garrett was chipped by TE Tommy Tremble then he beat Ekwonu again for the sack/strip/fumble. Also had three tackles for loss.
QB Jacoby Brissett - Overthrown pass to Amari Cooper for what would have been a huge gain or even a score, overthrew DPJ on the fourth down play, overthrown ball to Kareem Hunt on the left sidelines who was wide open. And that was just the first quarter. With 10:53 left in the second stanza, Cooper had a seven yard buffer when Brissett aired it out too high to which Coop had to wait for it. Yes, the Browns got a pass inference penalty out of the deal, but why not just hit your wide open target? How many passes were overthrown and should have been picked? Third-and-nine with 2:21 left in the game overthrew DPJ which had several steps on his man. Finished with 18 completions on 34 passes for 147 yards. Accuracy is not his superpower.
Refusing points - The Browns’ opening drive began at their own 35 and ended at the Panthers’ 36-yard line. Now facing a fourth-and-seven and the possibility of a 55-yard field goal, Cleveland went for it yet Brissett overthrew his receiver. GM Andrew Berry drafted a kid that has a very strong leg as evidenced by nailing a 57-yarder in preseason. With 2:14 left in the game the Browns were hanging onto a two-point lead instead of five. Carolina never tried to score a touchdown and instead played for the field goal which they made and took the lead. Plus, getting points gives the offense confidence that they can score points on not only their opening drive, but any drive.
S Grant Delpit - Had the interception, but really it was thrown right to him. The defense had Mayfield completely flustered with 3:22 left in the first half, Delpit faded to his right to double-cover the outside receiver while tight end Ian Thomas ran right by him. The result was a 50-yard completion to the wide open Thomas who was tackled at the two. Two plays later, Carolina had its first points. In the fourth quarter Panthers receiver Robbie Anderson ran a skinny post covered by Greg Newsome. After 15-yards, Newsome passed off Anderson to the safety. However, Delpit was nowhere to be found as Anderson was wide open. As the receiver was about to score the touchdown, Delpit looked back to his left at Newsome. Dude, you’re the deep man.
Lack of a passing attack - When Carolina went ahead 24-23 with less than two minutes to play, raise your hand anyone who believed that the run-heavy Browns could march down the field throwing the ball in order to get into field goal range. Although that is exactly what happened, the fact is that the Browns are not a good passing team. When your best receiver has just six catches, your $20 million receiver has just three receptions for 17-yards and your second best receiver is a running back, you have issues.
Milk Bones – some good and some with a bad taste
Special teams - KR Demetric Felton is nothing to be afraid of. Then he fumbled a punt to which Herb Miller was luckily standing right there for the recovery. The punt coverage team is absolutely awesome as every kick is close to being blocked. K Cade York converted all his kicks and showed a strong leg on kickoffs. Captain LS Charley Hughlett’s snaps are on-point every time.
Rookies - Nothing fancy and no alarms going off. S D’Anthony Bell made the first tackle on the opening kickoff. CB M.J. Emerson started his very first NFL game, and while he did not shine, he only had one P.I. and didn’t play like a rookie as the second leading tackler with five. K York went 4-4 on field goals and 2-2 on PAT’s including the game winner. DE Alex Wright had good pressure in passing situations with two tackles and a batted pass. DT Perrion Winfrey had some snaps and knocked down a pass on a key third down. This is very promising.
RT James Hudson - Played a good game and had several open holes for Hunt. Not bad for his second year after a difficult rookie season. Had one holding call.
RG Wyatt Teller - Opened a gigantic hole for Hunt’s touchdown run. Had a key holding call after a sizable gain in the first quarter. The first half sack was entirely Teller’s fault. He blocked down coming off the snap which left his area a huge hole. MLB Damien Wilson read the play and then suddenly blitzed with an unobstructed alleyway to the QB.
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones - Not huge numbers with six catches for 60-yards, but every reception seemed to be either for a first down or was a great catch on a poorly thrown high or low pass as he was well-covered. What a clutch catch at midfield on that final drive that put the Browns in business for the winning field goal.
How would you rate Jacoby Brissett’s first game as a Brown?
This poll is closed
Good but not great