When the schedules first came out and then the season began with the Denver Broncos getting blown out by just about every NFL club, immediately every team that played them took a Sharpie and scribbled a “W” on their calendar. This includes the Cleveland Browns.
But now? Going into their game with Cleveland they had won four straight and had beaten some of the league’s elite rosters such as the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills, plus an improved Minnesota Vikings. They began 1-4-0 and now stood 5-5-0 to Cleveland’s record of 7-3-0. Now Denver had their sights on the next good team: the Browns.
The Browns’ defense remained an elite unit in the league. The offense will spit and sputter, occasionally score a touchdown, but mostly trot out K Dustin Hopkins for points.
With the final gun sounded Cleveland’s offense could not generate many opportunities as they were soundly beaten 29-12.
So who played well for the Browns? Who didn’t?
JOK - The talented linebacker had a field day against the Broncos. It appeared that every critical stop, #6 was involved. Early in the first quarter, he decked RB Javonte Williams for no gain. Seven minutes later he tackled Williams for a two-yard loss. On Denver’s fourth-and-three as the first quarter was winding down after QB Russell Wilson got the first down on a scramble, it was JOK who swatted the ball to which DE Alex Wright recovered. Early in the third quarter, he nailed Williams on a third-and-one for a three-yard loss and forced a punt. Later in the same period, he hit Wilson for a loss, but a defensive holding penalty negated the apparent sack. Early in the fourth quarter on a first-and-goal, JOK broke through the line and stopped Williams for no gain. He had the game’s only sack and led all defenders with 12 total tackles to go along with his one QB hit and two tackles for loss.
RT Dawand Jones - Went up against Matt Henningsen for most of the contest and played solid. Opened several good holes for RB Jerome Ford and sealed off the edge. On run plays he was able to move Henningsen to the outer perimeter. Jones went out a play and his replacement James Hudson had a false start before trotting off the field. Henningsen finished with one tackle and zero sacks or QB hits.
RB Jerome Ford - Not many worthy offensive players today, but Ford had his moments. With 10:24 left in the first half, RG Wyatt Teller pulled and Ford patiently plowed behind him until his space opened up a bit. On the very next play, Ford came off the edge block by LT Geron Christian for a nice gain and a first down. Ford did have a dropped pass on a third-and-one that would have been converted into another first down in the second quarter which resulted in a stalled drive and a field goal. With just over one minute in the first half, Ford took a short pass then beat LB Alex Singleton for the edge, and scampered down the right sideline 11 yards which put the Browns in field goal range. In the third quarter, he gained 13 yards to keep a drive going. Had 65 yards on nine carries.
K Dustin Hopkins - Cleveland’s offensive MVP booted both field goal attempts. None of his kickoffs were returned.
CB Greg Newsome - Absolutely horrible day for Newsome. Had two missed tackles but did bat down one pass. His pursuit angles were all out today as well. Early in the game, he was called for pass interference on a third-and-10, but the replays showed it was a phantom call which eventually became a Denver touchdown. With 4:38 left in the first half, Newsome missed Williams completely who then converted the first down.
Sit Greg down. Please Jim, bench him. https://t.co/ZOODCeh67C— Andrew Spayde (@AndrewSpayde) November 26, 2023
On the first play of the second half, he allowed WR Jerry Jeudy too much cushion who then gained nine yards. Missed a tackle on a swing pass to Williams who then ran past Newsome for a sizable gain. Midway in the fourth quarter, WR Courtland Sutton ran a down-and-in without much of a fake and was all alone as Newsome watched the receiver pass right by him en route to a 25-yard gain to the Browns 24.
Lack of offense - Four sacks in the game allowed by this offensive line was part of the story. For most of the game, the Broncos pass rush looked like the Ravens as men were constantly moving the pocket backward and in the face of the quarterback. Six QB hits seem a bit light, but whenever the Browns had a good drive going, it became jail break with hurried throws and balls tossed either high or low. Two good drives in the first half resulted in getting three points each instead of seven points each. The second half was worse and not very productive. Second-half possessions: TD, fumble, punt, fumble, downs, safety allowed, one play to end the game. If Cleveland ends up in the playoffs, it won’t be because of this group. Six total fumbles with three lost, 10 rushing yards in the first quarter, and just 107 for the game. And 12 total points? Geez.
Awful game from start to finish. Regroup and find a way to win in LA.— Eddie Mac (@KingEdward15) November 27, 2023
DT Jordan Elliott/MLB Sione Takitaki/DT Maurice Hurst - When this combination was in the game, the Broncos ran for big gains. Both Hurst and Elliott were moved over without much issue and Takitaki either chose the wrong hole and subsequently took himself out of the play, or was pushed to the side by C Lloyd Cushenberry. Eight total tackles from this trio.
Lack of pass rush - Broncos QB Wilson had all day on most passing downs. Rarely was he flushed and only a few times did a sack seem imminent. Only two batted passes, one from the defensive line, four QB hits, and a single sack all game. Wilson did not have a banner game as far as passing yards, but his time to sit and go through his progressions was certainly up. Where was the pressure from Myles Garrett? Za’Darius Smith? Ogbo? Garrett had several times when he rushed hard inside only to have the runner go outside his lack of contain for good gains.
Missed tackles - Second week in a row that the Browns missed opportunities. Newsome, Takitaki, Elliott, Juan Thornhill, and Mike Ford need to be reviewed. Thornhill missed RB Samaje Perine at the 20-yard line to which Perine went down on the seven. Ford whiffed on Wilson at the two who then scored.
Dropped passes - How many drives were killed by a player who got two hands on the ball, then flubbed the catch? TE David Njoku missed a touchdown catch as WR Amari Cooper dropped a two-point conversion which was somewhat low, but catchable. Five minutes after missing the score, Njoku dropped another that lay perfectly in his hands. Ford missed an easy toss early in the game. Elijah Moore also had a key drop.
PJ Walker is the worst QB I’ve ever seen— Dave, (@DWil__15) November 26, 2023
QB P.J. Walker - Yes, he came into the game and at all times was playing to eliminate the two-score hole to crawl out of, but his throws were hurried and had no presence of on-coming defenders. The Browns had not allowed a sack all game until Walker came in. And does it seem that every time he is hit he fumbles the ball? Threw 13 passes with six completed, 56 yards, two fumbles lost, four sacks, and a 58.5 QB rating. When will Joe be ready?
RB Pierre Strong - One carry, one fumble lost, seven points for the other team.
Five fourth-down plays - The fourth-and-14 was a head-scratcher at Denver’s 33. Hopkins has the leg to complete three points, but instead, the Browns fumbled the ball. TE Harrison Bryant fumbled the snap on the fourth-and-one with 4:37 to go in the first quarter on Denver’s 49. RB Kareem Hunt did convert another fourth-and-one that led to a field goal. A fourth-and-goal at the two ended up a Harrison touchdown. An incomplete pass from Walker to Ford ended a fourth-and-eight with 2:56 left in the game.
Milk Bones – Over the holidays there is no such thing as fun with the whole family
DT Shelby Harris - Once he was inserted for more snaps, the Broncos stopped gaining huge chunks up the middle. He did have a defensive holding call after an apparent sack.
WR Cedric Tillman - Had his best day with the Browns. Midway through the first quarter, the Browns were facing a third-and-six. Tillman ran a four-yard pattern and was tackled after gaining just three yards. Doesn’t it make more sense to run seven yards instead of three if you need six yards? Caught a difficult pass with :48 left in the first half to gain 18 yards. Was open for the third-and-15 play early in the fourth quarter, but the ball was short-armed to him. Had a good gain late in the fourth quarter that allowed Cleveland to drive deep.
DTR - Had some great throws and then tossed several either very high or into the turf. Connected with Tillman on several good gains, but wasn’t able to get Cooper involved in the game. Had several nice scrambles for positive gains as he got 21 rushing yards. Went 14-29 for 134 yards, zero interceptions or fumbles, and one TD pass, with a 73.1 QB rating.
Do you think the Browns would go far in the playoffs with this offensive production?
This poll is closed
As long as this defense plays well, the Browns just need to stay in each game