Cleveland Browns Progress Report: Week 11

Ron Schwane / AP

The Cleveland Browns hosted a substandard version of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but another feckless effort1 for starting quarterback Cody Kessler and another rough performance from backup quarterback Josh McCown doomed them out of the gate.

The Steelers entered Sunday’s game having collected a mere 13 sacks during this season. They upped their total to 21 by the time the final whistle blew on Sunday afternoon. To save you the math, that’s eight sacks given up to the worst pass-rushing squad in the league. I am not at a point where I’m ready to throw the baby out with the bath water and fire Hue Jackson, but he really needs to get a handle on this death spiral.

Regardless of whether we are putting the blame on Cody Kessler and Josh McCown for holding the ball too long (which is a problem for them) or the offensive line for playing poorly (which has also been the case in almost every game this season), there needs to be some progress shown from week to week.

It’s hard to find one thing the Browns are doing better eleven weeks into the season compared to the first week. Jackson was tasked with creating some form of stability for this team, but the only thing they do consistently is perform inconsistently.

Previous Progress Reports: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, Week 9, Week 10


The Browns’ defense generated zero sacks and zero tackles for loss against the Steelers. Let that horrible statistic sink in. The Browns did not stop the Steelers from reaching the line of scrimmage one single time on Sunday. That level of futility demands your respect and admiration.

The run defense was gouged time and time again by Le’Veon Bell, who ended the day with 201 total yards from scrimmage to go with a touchdown. Ben Roethlisberger had all day to sit in the pocket and pick apart the secondary.

I will give some sincere props to Danny Shelton for being the only guy on the defense to show some attitude. He nudged Roethlisberger back to the ground after one of the few quarterback hits registered by the defense.

Sacks: 0

QB Hits: 4

Tackles for loss: 0

Passes Defensed: 6

Week 9 PRESSURE Grade: 1 (out of 5)



Once again Jamie Collins, you are the best thing going for the Browns’ defense. For the life of me I can’t understand why Bill Belichick was in such a hurry to send this guy packing. Collins registered one of the few quarterback hits on Ben Roethlisberger and managed to poke the ball away from Le’Veon Bell creating the only potential turnover the young Browns would see. The ball bounced safely out of bounds and possession was retained by the Steelers, but if that happens anywhere else on the field, the Browns are in business.

Once again the time of possession was lopsided toward the opponent and would have been worse if not for a late drive by Josh McCown. The Browns struggled once again to give their offense decent field position to start their drives.

Third and Fourth Down Conversion Percentage: 46 percent

Potential Takeaways: 1

Opponent Time of Possession: 33:58 (out of 60:00)




Yes, the buzz on Twitter after this game is that the Browns only handed off to the running backs ten times. That does seem like an incredibly low number of run plays, but the Browns also had a very low number of plays for the entire game. Browns quarterbacks only threw five more times than Ben Roethlisberger in spite of playing from behind the entire game. The problem wasn’t that the Browns didn’t run enough, the problem is that when they did run the ball the offensive line was abused by the Steelers’ front seven. In his measly eight carries, Isaiah Crowell was hit in the backfield multiple times before he could even attempt to break the line of scrimmage. I have to admit, I was all for abandoning the run when it happened. The Steelers were quite obviously playing to take away the run, but the Browns’ quarterbacks were so inept that they couldn’t force the Steelers to focus on the passing game.

Corey Coleman had a disappointing game catching only four of the twelve passes that came his way and dropping a couple that were easy catches. Terrelle Pryor and Duke Johnson were the stars of the offense with each player ripping off two plays of twenty or more yards, but the delivery to them was too inconsistent to cause any real damage.

Cody Kessler had one long throw to Terrelle Pryor in the third quarter where Pryor was downed at the one yard line, and that drive didn’t end in a touchdown. A two yard loss on a rush from Crowell and a five yard loss on a sack of Kessler put the Browns in an obvious field goal situation. That can’t happen.

Plays of 20-plus Yards: 5

Red Zone Conversion Percentage: 33

Yards/Run Play: 2.5

Yards/Pass Plays: 3.6

Week 9 PLAYMAKERS Grade: 1



It was a different game, but the story was the same. Wait I take that back, the story was even worse than usual. This defense had the lowest number of sacks in the entire NFL coming into this game. They had 13 sacks and somehow managed to put up eight against the Browns.

Did anyone else play Red Rover as a child? You would have two teams with everyone holding hands in a line. One team would shout, “Red rover, red rover, let Pat come over,” and Pat would have to leave his chain, run full speed into the arms of the other kids, and try to break through. Now imagine that you are a team of full grown adults playing against children and they manage to break through your chain every single time. That’s what happened to the Browns on Sunday. They were broken down and dominated by the NFL equivalent of children.

Is this rock bottom for the Browns’ pass protection? Please say that there’s no way to get buried any further. They’re already dead.

Opponent Sacks: 8

Opponent QB Hits: 14

Opponent Tackles for Loss: 13

Week 9 PROTECTION Grade: 1


I really thought this game would be closer than it was based on how the Steelers have performed this season. They had a number of key players out with injury, just like the Browns. Cameron Heyward, Markus Wheaton, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Shamarko Thomas, and DeAngelo Williams all sat out, but the guys who replaced them performed just as well. I thought the rivalry might fire up our boys, but that was not the case.

There are certainly some keepers on the defense in spite of their massive troubles; Jamie Collins, Danny Shelton, and Chris Kirksey are all guys who seem to show up often enough that they deserve the opposing offenses’ attention. Maybe it’s just because of how wildly he celebrates after every play that he makes, but I think Briean Boddy-Calhoun has shown to be a good find as an undrafted free agent playing in the nickel cornerback role. However, there are a lot of places where young guys need to step up and under-performing vets need to be shipped out. Joe Haden was never the elite cornerback he was perceived to be, but he looks almost unplayable now. Jamar Taylor had a strong start to the season, but has completely faded since playing his former team in the third week. Ed Reynolds played 100 percent of the snaps at free safety and has no business playing anywhere but special teams. Xavier Cooper, Stephen Paea, and Jamie Meder have provided next to nothing on the defensive line. There are quite a few holes to fill.

I think we all realize that the skill position players on the offensive side of the ball are pretty darn good, but they won’t help much if the quarterback can’t get the ball into their hands.  Once again, the Browns appear to have locked up one of the top picks in the upcoming NFL draft with no quarterback worth taking in that spot.

Stop me if you’ve heard that one before.

Big Savings for Big Fans at

  1. And subsequent concussion []

  • Chris

    There needs to be an “Ohhh hell no!” option

  • Pat Leonard

    I think you’re right… we should be allowed to give a zero on very rare occasions, and this week definitely called for one.

  • RGB
  • NankirPhelge

    It’s getting about time for Cody Kessler’s dad to call Mary Kay and start ripping the Browns protection.

  • BenRM

    There is no progress anymore. This is barely an NFL team.

  • Harv

    yeah, not sure that in these late-season games the team looks less discombobulated than the ’99 expansion team of misfit toys.

  • Harv

    The Steelers 8 sacks (and countless QB hits) is even more startling when you consider they had just lost their most dominant lineman and best defensive player.

    You’ve covered it all but if I remember anything about this game it will be Tomlin’s angry father teaching moment, demanding for 5 straight plays that his team score a TD at the end of the half, that under no circumstances would they worry about beating the Browns, that they would damn well make valuable use of this in-season scrimmage and sharpen up for real teams. And then he went for the conversion, in case anyone thought practice was over. Now, consider where the 4-5 Steelers would be if they came away with zero points there and somehow lost. But Tomlin watches tape, he knows Sashi’s Browns defy “any given Sunday.” Whatevs, everyone knows building the “right way” and changing the culture is painful. I now adjourn to practice my Outrage Face for the news that Collins would rather play closer to, um, anywhere and his agent makes dire threats if Sashi even thinks about a franchise tag that would keep his client an extra minute here in home field/away crowd hell.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi PAT … yeah , you hit it with the defensive players : i think J.Collins , Kirksey , Shelton , Ogbah , Nassib , D.Davis , Haden & Boddy-Calhoun are good starting pieces for the defense … and then i’m not sure about guys like Kindred , J.Taylor & C.Johnson etc.

    its seems like most of the time they are in a 3-4 alignment … it would be nice if Danny Shelton had some help & the 3 D-Lineman are not only eating-up blocks , but also making plays & putting pressure on the QB … i hope Ogbah can be one of those guys …. he hasn’t lived-up to his billing yet.

    forget QB in the 1st round of the draft … get Garrett , J.Allen or Peppers with the 1st pick , then get another impact defensive player with our other 1st round pick.

    “Son of Sashi” says FIX THE DEFENSE !!!!

  • tigersbrowns2

    … most mocks i have seen have us taking Garrett with the #1 overall pick.

  • BenRM

    It makes me sad man. The only good thing that’s happened this season is Pryor.

  • Pat Leonard

    That’s my favorite course of action as well. Maybe we can grab a quarterback with the Eagles’ pick, maybe not, but I don’t want to reach and grab one first overall.

  • Pat Leonard

    Spot on. I know it’s crazy to imagine, but I think the players really do like playing for Hue Jackson, so there’s a possibility that Collins will buy into the whole “you’re going to want to be here when we’re ready to compete” line of thinking. I’m sure after feuding with Belichick the past year, Collins is probably enjoying being under a player’s coach. Fingers crossed.

  • tigersbrowns2

    … and i saw another mock where we take D.Watson at #18 … you never know. as far as QB … i would think this is more Hue & Pep’s call than the HBT’s … how say you ?

  • Pat Leonard

    That has certainly been the case up to this point, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a little behind-the-scenes deal when Hue Jackson was hired that he gets full control over the quarterback position.

  • Chris

    Sashi: “All I see now is quarterback, tight end, safety”

    **paraphrasing from some brilliant post from last year. Can’t recall who it was, but props dude… props**

  • JM85

    Only 5 more to go Hue!

  • Harv

    you guys remember that Sashi/Pod subscribe to the philosophy that draft success increases by trading out of high spots for multiple picks, right? This year they went from #2 to 8 to 15th overall before they touched a player. The draft is the heart of their analytics, that the extra asset(s) from a trade down provides more value than the difference between the players taken at their respective spots, and that the multiple picks gained increase their chances of landing an impact player. Better not fall in love with anyone projected in the top 4 or 5, fellas. HBT will probably just break your heart.

  • whosevelt

    And we will end up with fourteen players, the best of whom, like Coleman, Ogbah and Nassib look like great complimentary pieces who really need a superstar playing next to them to really shine; and the worst of whom, like Devalve, Shon Coleman, and Schobert, top out at showing flashes in the preseason. CANT WAIT!!!1!!

  • RGB
  • jpftribe

    “They had a number of key players out with injury, just like the Browns. Cameron Heyward, Markus Wheaton, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Shamarko Thomas, and DeAngelo Williams all sat out, but the guys who replaced them performed just as well.”

    Browns are $50M under the salary cap. Steelers are $3M. Coincidence?

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  • tigersbrowns2

    hi HARV … 14 picks last year , 13 picks this year … that is basically 4 drafts worth of picks in 2 years … i think it’s a pretty good way to start an “expansion” franchise , IF you draft well. if they can get half of the players from these 2 drafts to be major contributors , that works for me.

    if they can gain another 2nd round pick this year by trading down just a few spots … unless they are totally in love with Garrett , Allen or Peppers , i think they might do it … you should still be able to get an impact player at #3 , #4 or #5.

    i expect they will do modest spending , if any , in this upcoming off-season … then by season 3 (2018) , i think they open the purse strings & fill-in some missing pieces with some big-name free-agents.

    so , in summation : the plan is to acquire as many draft picks as possible in the first 2 seasons , then start signing big-name free-agents in year 3 … then we are challenging for a division title in year 3 or 4.

    sounds good , don’t it ??

  • mgbode

    Protection was a circle of hell unto itself this past week

  • mgbode

    There’s a few more but close enough.

  • mgbode

    No QB with pick No. 22 — you just know somehow we’ll end up with that pick…and, please no.

  • RGB

    Right now that pick is #19.
    If no worthy QB is available…OL, OL, OL!

    But, I can see your #22 pick prediction coming true…when the HBT trades out of #1…

  • mgbode

    Quinn, Weeden, Manziel…and…

    Watson? Kizer? Trubisky?

    Who will join the Pick 22 Curse?

  • RGB

    On paper…
    Watson/Kizer/Trubisky > Quinn/Weeden/ Manziel

  • Harv

    sounds horrific if they continue to be unable to identify true NFL impact players. Being able to accumulate multiple picks means nothing if you don’t know how to parlay those into a roster capable of competing for a playoff spot. [I know your rosy view of the potential of this year’s rookies, Tigger. This was just my reply to optimism about volume of draft picks].

  • BenRM

    You’re probably right. Out of morbid curiosity, what else do you see as a positive?

  • RGB
  • mgbode

    Writing up more detail for next week but Shelton, Meder, Collins, and some more have had positive stuff