The Cleveland Browns found a fresh way to lose with three late turnovers.
Regardless of the validity of one of those turnovers1 , their ball carriers put the ball on the deck late in the game when the team needed a score. The mistakes of the young players haunt them again.
I was able to attend this game at FedEx Field, and in spite of the frustrating plays that ended up costing the Browns the game, there were some fun moments throughout this matchup with the Washington Redskins.
Two players who weren’t on the Cleveland Browns’ initial 53-man roster at the start of the season brought almost all of the pressure in Week 4. Briean Boddy-Calhoun had a key sack on a cornerback blitz. Recently-signed2 Cam Johnson provided two sacks of his own and another quarterback hit. Oh did I forget to mention that Johnson also added two and a half tackles for loss? He was a beast showing up all over the field, and it seems rather fortunate that the Harvard Brain Trust was able to reel him back in after releasing him weeks ago. These are the type of sack and tackle-for-loss numbers that we would love to see moving forward.
QB Hits: 5
Tackles for loss: 5
Passes Defensed: 3
Week 4 PRESSURE Grade: 3 (out of 5)
GETTING OFF THE FIELD
The Washington Redskins faced only eight third downs in the game, and the Browns allowed them to convert half of those. Quite simply, the defense was wretched in the Getting Off the Field category. They basically let the Redskins march up and down the field at their leisure, with Cam Johnson providing just about the only nuisance to their plan.
Third Down Conversion Percentage: 50%
Potential Takeaways: 2
Opponent Time of Possession: 31:03 (out of 60:00)
Week 4 GETTING OFF THE FIELD Grade: 2
We remember the phantom taunting penalty from two weeks ago, and this week the referees were able to add the phantom fumble to the NFL’s treasure trove. You’ll notice that there is no metric in this category for the fumbles, so we’re looking only at the youngsters’ abilities to make plays, and we are not looking at their ability to blow those plays. You would imagine that mistakes like that will lessen as a player gains experience.
Something that will stand out below is the number zero. As in zero plays of 20 yards or more. That is reprehensible, and Hue Jackson needs to find a way to create more explosive plays against the Patriots in the fifth week. Isaiah Crowell did have some solid runs of over 15 yards each, but there was nothing close to an explosive play in the passing game and Duke Johnson was bottled up pretty well.
Plays of 20-plus Yards: 0
Red Zone Conversion %: 67
Yards/Run Play: 5.8
Yards/Pass Plays: 5.3
Week 4 PLAYMAKERS Grade: 2
Hue Jackson started his third different center through four games this season as Austin Reiter got the start. Reiter actually played well in his first start with the Browns, but as we probably could have guessed, he ended the game with a serious knee injury that turned out to be an ACL tear. Reiter will miss the rest of the season, and John Greco will slide back over to center in week 5. With Alvin Bailey being punished for his poor off-field decisions, Spencer Drango saw snaps at right guard against the Redskins and may have the inside track for the starting job this week.
As for the overall play of the offensive line in this particular game, it was a slightly better performance compared to previous weeks, but still nothing to write home about. Only one sack was allowed, which is awesome, but there was plenty of other pressure on Cody Kessler who was hit often.
Opponent Sacks: 1
Opponent QB Hits: 8
Opponent Tackles for Loss: 6
Week 4 PROTECTION Grade: 3
Ultimately, the team was a little too below-average to make up for the three turnovers. We saw another solid display by Isaiah Crowell go wasted. I’ll be interested to see if Cam Johnson has earned himself a larger role in the defense since he has been the most effective pass rusher through four weeks of play3 .
Cody Kessler turned in a ho-hum performance against a fairly weak Redskins pass defense. Josh Norman has been fantastic, but his counterpart on the other side had been picked to pieces in every other game. If Kessler wants to hold on to the starting quarterback job next season, he’s going to have to show a lot more than he did on Sunday.
This Sunday the Browns will play host to the juggernaut New England Patriots, who will have Tom Brady returning from suspension. Expecting a win for the Browns would probably be too bold, but perhaps our boys can catch the Patriots off guard and make a little noise before eventually forcing the fans to leave early.
- Replays clearly show that the ball was pulled back in by Duke Johnson after his fumble, but the NFL insists on pushing their ill-advised angle that nothing shady happened in the replay process. [↩]
- And well-known to Browns fans having served time in Cleveland in previous seasons and training camp. [↩]
- And that competition really has not been close. [↩]