Joy to the world, the parade is done!
I can’t tell you how wonderful Christmas Eve was simply because the Cleveland Browns won, thus ending the idea of a “Perfect Season Parade” celebrating/mocking a 0-16 season. The cherry on top was seeing that the San Francisco 49ers also won, keeping the Browns in the driver’s seat for the top overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. I must admit, I’m very happy to see that the money raised by Twitter jester Chris McNeil for the parade will instead be given to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.
The Browns are also going to match the total amount raised, which is an extremely classy move. That current total is sitting north of $20,000, and that amount of money will feed an absurd amount of hungry people.
The Browns created some decent pressure in this game, but they were unable to turn that pressure into a sack. It seemed that Ray Horton was dialing up blitzes from the secondary, as they did most of the damage for the Browns. Jamar Taylor continued his strong play after receiving a new contract, tallying three passes defensed (one of which being an interception) and a tackle for loss. Old-timer Tramon Williams put up 1.5 tackles for loss and two passes defensed. Ed Reynolds got to the quarterback twice, but not in time to get a sack.
Jamie Collins had another nice game, but overall the front seven just didn’t do enough to really bother Philip Rivers.
QB Hits: 5
Tackles for loss: 4
Passes Defensed: 6
Week 16 PRESSURE Grade: 2 (out of 5)
GETTING OFF THE FIELD
The Browns were finally able to create an acceptable number of potential turnovers, although it was partially due to a fumbled snap from Philip Rivers, who was able to recover the football. Still though, the fact that the Browns were able to force an interception and the Chargers were unable to register a takeaway is one of the big reasons that the Browns won the game. The Chargers were driving into Browns territory when Philip Rivers lofted a deep ball to Antonio Gates that was picked off by Taylor. If he hadn’t made that play, the result could have easily been a win for the Chargers.
The Browns also did a decent job forcing punts on third downs, although they did allow two fourth down conversions on the last drive. Jamie Meder’s field goal block to end the game should probably count as a turnover, but I haven’t been tracking those plays. Still, the Browns had a fair-to-middling performance in this category.
Third and Fourth Down Conversion Percentage: 41.2 percent
Potential Takeaways: 2
Opponent Time of Possession: 27:31 (out of 60:00)
Week 16 GETTING OFF THE FIELD Grade: 3
Robert Griffin III threw some terrible passes, but he was able to pick up some timely first downs with his legs and the Browns’ running game kept them competitive in this one. RG3 was only able to lead the offense into the red zone three times, but they did convert two of those efforts into touchdowns.
Seth DeValve provided another big play on a 21 yard pass from Griffin, as it seems like he creates one of these electric plays every game. Duke Johnson showed some serious elusiveness on one run, evading tacklers on his way to a 22 yard gain.
Plays of 20-plus Yards: 3
Red Zone Conversion Percentage: 66.7
Yards/Run Play: 4.3
Yards/Pass Plays: 3.4
Week 16 PLAYMAKERS Grade: 3
I couldn’t believe the numbers in this category were as terrible as they actually were. It doesn’t seem like a team should be able to win a game when the quarterback is sacked nine times and the opposing defense puts up a ludicrous 15 tackles for loss. Fifteen snaps saw the Browns losing yardage in this game! It’s unconscionable. It’s inconceivable. If anyone is looking for a reason why Jonathan Cooper was cut from the team in spite of a solid performance in the run game, you’ve found it here. This was just a ridiculously bad effort from everyone trying to throw a block in front of our already-horrible quarterback.
If the Browns want to spend any of their early picks in the draft on offensive linemen, who are we to say that they shouldn’t? If you look at the protection numbers from each week this season, your eyes may start to bleed. It doesn’t matter who the quarterback was, that person was on his ass an insane number of times. This needs to be fixed if we want to see the Browns finish a season with more than one win.
Opponent Sacks: 9
Opponent QB Hits: 12
Opponent Tackles for Loss: 15
Week 16 PROTECTION Grade: 1
The Browns needed to have some breaks go their way if they were going to win a game this season, and they finally got those breaks on Saturday. We didn’t see any particularly strong progress in any area, but the combination was enough to get that elusive win. If anything, we can look at this game as a great performance for Jamar Taylor, who looks like someone the front office can actually build around.
This Sunday is the final game of the season. The Browns will finish their forgettable 2016 campaign with a road game against the much-hated Pittsburgh Steelers, who have already clinched their playoff position. We can expect the Steelers to bench a lot of their veteran players in an effort to prevent unnecessary injuries, which means the Browns actually have a chance to win the game on Sunday.
I’m not sure what I want here. On the one hand, I want the Browns to ensure the first pick in the draft because I think Myles Garrett is a rare talent who fits a huge need for the Browns as a pass rusher. On the other hand, I really despise the Steelers and losing to their backups would be yet another painful moment in the history of this rivalry.
What the heck, go Browns! Beat Pittsburgh!