Despite the team losing another offensive lineman to injury, they continue to display an incredible amount of resiliency and determination that’s led them to where they are today. In terms of current playoff seeding, they now sit at No.5 in the AFC Conference playoff picture.
Not only was David Njoku one of Cleveland’s most consistent and impactful players during their late-game comeback surge, but he also made big plays throughout the entire game as well. He’s shown the ability to be a consistent threat week in and week out and has developed a great relationship and chemistry with Joe Flacco in a short period of time.
This was especially evident in the Flacco-to-Njoku connection on Sunday.
Snaps: 58 (84%)
Receptions: 10 (Career-high)
First Downs: 3
One of the most exciting plays of the day was Njoku’s two-yard touchdown catch in the back of the endzone that tied the game up at 7-7 in the 2nd quarter.
The Browns have run this style of play quite a bit inside the 10-yard line in 2023. This type of condensed formation allows the offense to maintain a pre-snap run threat, especially due to the extra offensive lineman at the LOS, while being able to “flood” one side of the field with receivers after the snap.
Joe Flacco went into sprint-action to the right and saw that he had a mismatch on the safety in the back of the endzone, so he threw a nicely placed jump ball to Njoku.
Another crucial play for Cleveland was this big, 31-yard catch and run that quickly got the team into enemy territory.
It was an effective scheme that spaced the defenders out, which resulted in Njoku running wide-open near the right sideline. It got the offense out of what could have been a sticky situation, in terms of the distance that they had to travel and the amount of time that they had to do it in. It was exactly the type of chunk play that they needed there.
His most impactful play of the day besides his touchdown catch, was this simple drag route that he took for a 34-yard gain with less than a minute to go in the 4th quarter. On 3rd & 15, Kevin Stefanski decided to give David Njoku the best chance at converting by having all three wide receivers run clear-out routes that allowed Njoku to streak across the field underneath.
The Bears dropped Justin Jones, a 310-pound defensive tackle into coverage on this play in an attempt to confuse and mess with Joe Flacco at the line of scrimmage. Needless to say, it was unsuccessful for the defense and Jones didn’t stand a chance in tracking Njoku down after the catch. This resulted in a huge gain that put the Browns in field-goal range for Dustin Hopkins, who went on to kick the game-winning field goal.
Do you think David Njoku has finally developed into a pro-bowl-caliber tight end? Join fellow Browns fans in the comment section below.