Hey—not too bad, kid: Cleveland Browns Week 1 Winners and Losers

When asked how Week 1 would go for the Cleveland Browns, I oftentimes pointed back to Week 2’s home opener which saw the team storm out to 20 points in the first quarter, only to be beaten 25-20 by the game’s final whistle. Energy would be high. There would be little-to-no tape on the Browns’ gameplan thanks to a new starting quarterback. There would be plenty of hope, only to have the cream eventually rise to the top.

This past Sunday, however, it was anything but. Sure there was plenty of energy, and yes—there was little-to-no tape regarding this year’s quarterback. But rather than racing out of the gate and realizing that the pace was unsustainable, this team fought to the very end, not intimidated by the half-dozen Pro Bowlers who were staring at them from the other side of the field. While things didn’t exactly start off well (we’ll get to this in a bit), the Browns, led by rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer and a handful of 20-somethings, didn’t back down when the Steelers had a two-score lead. They made Pittsburgh earn all of their points (outside of their first seven), and appeared to have earn the respect of Ben Roethlisberger postgame.

In a season where you’re simply looking or signs of hope after was was a dismal 1-15 year littered with names like Griffin III and Bowe and Tramon, you need these kids to show that they’ll be the ones leading the way going forward. It was difficult to watch Sunday’s three-point loss and not see exactly that.

I’m more than glad to have been wrong about my initial forecast.

WINNER: DeShone Kizer

Sure, DeShone Kizer took a few too many hits. Sure, he held on to the ball too long at times, leading to a handful of sacks. And sure, I’m willing to be he would love to have that interception back—especially after he watches the film—but here is a rookie quarterback making his NFL debut against a team that will be looking at a top-three seed in the AFC Playoff scenario (barring anything catastrophic) and he completely held his own. He took on a bevy of Pittsburgh blitzes and completed 75 percent of his actual pass attempts (eliminating throwaways). Yeah, the Browns didn’t win the game, but they were a score away with a kid under center. There was much, much more good than bad in this one and we now get to cling to the hope that No. 7 can end the Great Quarterback Drought.

“It was awesome,” Kizer said of his first touchdown. “Obviously, it was at the point of the game where we needed some momentum to turn back after a special teams touchdown. It is up to us on offense to make sure that we go out there and swing things back our way. A little energy afterwards is also good for the team.”

WINNERish: Hue Jackson

While the play calling was a bit suspect at times throughout the contest, Hue Jackson had a group of first- and second-year players one field goal away from the veteran-laden Pittsburgh Steelers. Jackson seemed to go away from the run—something he desired to not do this season—but the second-half drives led to 11 of the team’s 18 points. Typically, the head coach’s slot on Winners and Losers is dictated by whether or not the team wins or loses, but much like with Kizer, there was a lot to like about the way this team fought until the final whistle.

WINNER: Gregg Williams

Watching this defense is like a night-and-day experience compared to the Ray Horton defense of yesteryear. Jackson referred to it as a “legit” defense, which is a bit nebulous, but shows just how much different a game flows when the defense can get off of the field. Williams’ deep safety scheme threw the Steelers off early, leading to an interception (more on this later), and the run defense was absolutely terrific in holding Le’Veon Bell to just 32 yards on the ground. While I don’t want to play the “what if” game with Myles Garrett, this unit could be a huge surprise compared to where it was a season ago.

LOSER: Joe Haden

Love Joe Haden the person and the player he was in his first few years with the Cleveland Browns, but he clearly is not that player any longer. While the most damaged of Cleveland fans fully expected Haden to have a pick six, the final line was six catches allowed for 80 yards and a 106.3 passer rating into his coverage including getting destroyed on double move by Corey Coleman.

WINNER: Derrick Kindred

Such a great game for Kindred, breaking up passes, recording tackles, and registering his first career interception. There was a lot of chatter in August as to whether or not Kindred deserved to be a starter on this team, and he certainly cast his vote by example.

LOSER: Jamar Taylor

Conversely, Jamar Taylor could have had a better day. Largely tasked with covering Antonio Brown, Taylor allowed No. 84 to haul in every target which happened to be on his watch. There aren’t many DBs in the NFL who can cover Brown, but Taylor will want to forget about this one pretty quickly with Baltimore on deck for Week 2.

WINNER: Corey Coleman

While Brown will get all the praise for catching all 11 of his targets, Coleman was also perfect, pulling in all five passes thrown his way for 50-plus yards and a touchdown. Coleman’s reception rate during his rookie campaign was insanely low, but this was mostly due to targets being uncatchable. It looks as if the second-year receiver has build quite the rapport with Kizer, as evidenced by his 150.4 passer rating when the two were involved in an attempt.

Also: This was one hell of an NFL catch.

LOSER: Kenny Britt

Please don’t be Dwayne Bowe
Please don’t be Dwayne Bowe
Please don’t be D—

WINNER: Briean Boddy-Calhoun

The BBC allowed just one catch on the day for a measly six yards. He broke up a pass, and recorded three total defensive stops with zero missed tackles on the day.1

WINNERS: Joe Schobert and Carl Nassib

The pair of sophomores look like completely different players in their new roles under Gregg Williams. Schobert had nine total tackles (a team high) while Nassib filled in a bit for Garrett coming off the right side, recording a huge sack.

LOSER: Seth DeValve

Loved Seth for this, but his blown block on this punt was a game-bending gaffe. The other option, of course, is wondering why a tight end is playing left guard on punt protection, but hey — who am I to question the Teflon Don?

Loser: Ben Roethlisberger

What the hell was this?

And now: The fans

  1. Via PFF. []

  • Chris

    Hey, RGB… you OK down there?

  • Garry_Owen

    Antonio Brown is, I believe, the best WR in the game. He had a good day, but not necessarily an “Antonio Brown good day.”

  • BenRM

    internet points for busting out the tip drill video.

  • mgbode

    Antonio Brown Week 1 2017:
    11 receptions on 11 targets, 182 yards

    Outside 2017 Week 1:
    Games in 2016 over 182 yards = 0
    Games in career (101 career games ) over 182 yards = 4
    Games in entire career w/ at 11+ receptions and 100% catch rate = 0

    Yes, the Browns kept him out of the endzone. Good job there. However, I would say it was definitively an “Antonio Brown good day.”

  • Garry_Owen

    I suppose. Still, keeping him out of the endzone was more than just a good job. The Steelers scored twice on offense. None of those were Antonio Brown. Had he broken one, as he so often does, the game looks very different.

  • mgbode

    Also, if he doesn’t rack up 182 yards, the game looks very different. I’m sticking with Brown had a good game even by his lofty standards.

  • CBiscuit

    I think he was ok. I think they (including ESPN which had big features on him) really desperately want him to be a star.

    I agree that he’s a pretty decent rookie in a good system.

  • Garry_Owen

    How many of those yards were in drives that didn’t end in points?

  • tigersbrowns2

    LMFAO !!! … don’t ya just love it when you shoot-from-the-hip & MG is there with stupid numbers to prove ya wrong ?? don’t feel bad , I do it all the time.

    maybe deep down inside , we like to make him work & go digging for numbers.

  • tigersbrowns2

    in your defense , i’m pretty sure the 50+ yard gainer was on a tipped pass & he freakin’ got lucky on that one …

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi SCRIPTY … man , you are a tuff grader today … all our CB’s ?? i get what you’re saying , but the whole defense played pretty good … only gave up 14 points.

  • scripty

    Browns talked a lot of talk “Come get some” then we had CBs playing soft on mid & short yardage third downs. No press coverage on key downs. Saw some Romeo Crennel soft zones against a 10+ year vet in Ben? WTF? They were okay but looked flacid on key downs so they get a losing grade. It wasn’t a horror story but I can’t give them a winning grade. In fairness, maybe they were all sliding into new roles post-Haden.

  • Garry_Owen

    The stats are great, but they don’t tell the whole story or prove or disprove anything, necessarily. And honestly, I’m not trying to double-down, I’m just suspicious of raw data by nature. Statistics do not exist in a vacuum. That’s why I’m honestly curious how many yards were gained in non-scoring drives. As I see them, offensive yards in non-scoring drives are actually defensive statistics. They tell the story of field position, and help explain why the other team only had the number of points that they had. 182 yards is a hell of a lot of yards, but standing alone, they merely tell why the Browns had 18 points on offense as much as they tell why the Steelers had 14. Important, yes, but not as important as it might seem. 182 yards and no TDs is an entirely different game than 182 yards and 1 TD, or 2 TDs, or 3 TDs. He had a great game, but I still don’t think he had one of his greatest games. I thought the Browns did fairly well insofar as they kept him out of the endzone. Sometimes the prevent defense actually does do something good. The Browns had an “Antonio Brown prevent defense” in place. He got a lot of yards, as prevent defenses tend to allow, but he did not score. Giving 14 points to the Steelers is a good day, regardless of how many yards one dude has.

  • Garry_Owen

    That’s on the scheme, though, not necessarily on the DBs (which you did note in your first comment).

  • JM85

    Winner- the entire organization. From practice to preseason games and the opener, they look like a professional team this year.

  • mgbode

    OK, so how much did Antonio Brown have to do with the PIT touchdown drives.

    Let’s check it out:

    TD No. 1: PIT travels 91 yards for TD. Brown had 80 yards receiving.
    TD No. 2: PIT travesl 75 yards for TD. 41 of those yards on D-PI called on Taylor covering Brown.

    Total yards on PIT two TD drives = 166
    Total yards Brown accumulated on them = 121
    Percentage of total yards for Brown on those drives? 73%

  • Garry_Owen

    Great game! Still not one of his bests.

  • mgbode

    Ah, the lawyer move the goalposts game. It was a “good Antonio Brown” game, which is the bar we must clear in this discussion.

  • Garry_Owen

    Ah, the blame the lawyer for having become a lawyer game! No, sir. I think we just have a problem of definition and interpretation. I still think that he had an “average Antonio Brown” game. You still think he had a “good Antonio Brown game.” There’s bad, there’s average, there’s good. “Good” is what I mean by “one of his bests,” because when he’s “good,” he’s the best. Raw stats aside, I think yesterday was average for him. I didn’t move any posts, and I don’t think any bar has been cleared. You do. We just interpret the goalpost differently. That’s all. I could be wrong; thus what I said when I said “I suppose.”

  • mgbode
  • Garry_Owen

    I once thought I was wrong, but it turns out I was mistaken.

  • tigersbrowns2

    good post … i look at the total yards (Pitt – 290 & Cle 237) & even the TOP (Pit – 29:00 & Cle 31:00) & there’s not much to take away from that except that Pitt only had 290 total yards for the game , with Brown having 182 of them.

    a couple of stats that did jump out at me – rushing yards (Pit 35 yards – Cle 57 yards) … and Pitt had 13 penalties for 144 yards !!

  • tigersbrowns2

    fair enough … but , they were going against Ben , Bell & Brown … the DB’s also tackled pretty good in the run game.

  • scripty

    To an extent. I think they can still be a little physical getting guys off their routes to an extent, mainly in the red zone when there’s no worry about getting beat deep

  • BenRM


  • Garry_Owen

    Dibs on being Dad. Called it!