You know the drill. After every game we break down who stood out, and who needs to go stand in a corner. It’s time to call ’em like we see ’em. It’s time for WInners and Losers.
How do you even start after a game like that? Do list everyone as a loser for the first half and pick out the best from the second half as winners? I’m trying not to be overly cynical after that one, but it is getting harder and harder. Here goes…
WINNERS: Those that love moral victories. The Browns didn’t give up down 24 points at the half on the road against a division rival. At the half I was wondering how many games it would take for the Browns to total 27 points. I was thinking sometime around week five against the Titans sounded about right. I seriously had zero hope that the Browns were going to win that game. No way they come back. Not with how bad they looked in the first half.
LOSERS: Those who love actual victories. Put me in this camp. I’m over moral victories. I have no interest in them for this Browns team anymore. “This is a pass/fail league. We failed.” Bullseye, Mike Pettine. Someone else can stand here and pass out orange slices and participation trophies. I’m sick of losing.
WINNER: The running game. One hundred and eighty-three rushing yards as a team. Over six yards a carry and a pair of rushing touchdowns. As you have probably heard, the Browns haven’t had that kind of rushing day since 2010. After Tate went down, both Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell looked good averaging over 6 yards per carry. West looked much better than he did in the preseason, making decisive cuts and hitting the hole quickly. He recorded 100 yards rushing in his NFL debut, which the Browns haven’t had since 1987. That’s good news. (The last Brown to do it? Larry Mason. You are not alone if you’ve never heard of him.)
LOSER: Wide receivers not named Andrew Hawkins. Yes, Travis Benjamin had a touchdown catch. It was a good play. Other than that touchdown, the WR group didn’t do very much. Hawkins had eight catches for 87 yards (career highs by the way). The tight ends contributed. Where were the rest? The Miles Austin experiment had a very shaky preseason, and didn’t have a good regular season debut either. Unfortunately, there may not be many other options. I refuse to put any stock in the Josh Gordon might be back line of thought until he’s back.
LOSER: Chris Tabor and the special teams. What in the world was going on in Tabor’s mind not covering gunners on a punt? You know what really made no sense about the play? Those two didn’t even rush the punter. It looked like they were faking a rush and then trying to cover. Wow. Gotta give the Steelers credit for calling the Browns out on that one, even deep in their own territory.
LOSER: Tackling. I pointed it out in the preseason, and it carried over to Week 1. This defense is not a good tackling unit. On Bell’s 38-yard touchdown run, I counted seven Browns who had at least a shot to make the tackle and came up empty. Not acceptable.
Barkevious Mingo is my biggest concern in this area. He has the speed and athleticism to be around the ball a lot, but if he doesn’t make the play when he is there, what difference does it make?
LOSER: CBS. (Cut to sideline shot of Johnny Manziel.) Have you ever seen a more forced (cut to Manziel cam) storyline during a football (cut to Manziel clapping) game in your entire (cut to Manziel with Hoyer and Shanahan) life than the ridiculous (cut to Manziel with his arms folded) and gratuitous (cut to Manziel taking a dump in the locker room) constant shots of Johnny Manziel? The announcing team had a conversation at the start of the second half saying that at some point Pettine was going to have to do something about the controversy. Sigh.
OK gang. It’s your turn. I saved you plenty.
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)