Browns

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. []

  • BenRM

    The BBC also had one of the best hits of the day on Bell!

    LOSERS – Steelers fans: I get it. You live in (or around) Pittsburgh. They’re your team. But they’re dirty as anything. But hey, let’s wave our stupid towels around a little more. Idiots.

    WINNER – Kizer: Kizer is 100% a rookie. So many rookie things happened. Holding the ball too long. Taking unnecessary hits out of the pocket. Locking in on single receivers. BUT he looked as good as any Nu-Browns QB I can recall. Certainly as good or better than any Browns rookie QB. Let’s hope he keeps learning and growing!

    LOSER – Njoku: I don’t know. I guess I just expected a little more flash? There’s time, though.

    WINNER – Deflected passes: I feel like we haven’t seen the Browns break up this many passes in a long time. I suppose at some point, someone will take advantage of their undercutting so many routes, but for now, I dig it.

    LOSER – Safety play?: For my part, I found it really annoying the safeties were playing so deep that I couldn’t see them on TV. I also feel that, most of Browns receptions came after the Steelers adjusted to it. Brown is Brown, and he caught some balls most receivers wouldn’t, but still. I would have liked to see the Safeties come in a bit once Brown and James started getting a lot of passes underneath.

  • BenRM

    HAH! I liked you’re “on the verge” for the week.

  • mgbode

    As do I though we need to get that font color changed to dark brown.

  • CBiscuit

    Winner: Front office and coaching competency! They looked like they just assembled themselves a bona fide NFL team. Young and needing to work out hitches (first possession), but they coulda shoulda won this one. I’ll take it!

    Winner: Williams’ defense. Guys were stuffing the run, were hitting with authority (Schobert espec showed up). Other than that blown coverage late in the 4th with the jump ball to A. Brown, they looked pretty good (pass rush aside of course).

    Winner: Kizer. Yes, he held on to the ball too long and took some coverage sacks, but he threw a couple away. Other than that crappy ball that got picked, not a lot of dumb plays. Dude has a gun and moves around the pocket well enough that when we’re 3rd and long, you feel like he’s going to give you a chance to convert. He looks like the real deal. Imagine if our WRs actually got separation or hung on to the ball (Britt).

    Loser: Pittsburgh. Man, either we were that much improved, or they have lost their edge. Sloppy and dirty…

    Loser: Pittsburgh headhunters. Shockingly, they always seem to “accidentally” target…and it’s not just aggressiveness. 4 times is no accident. Typical dirty play from an org that pretends they have class.

  • mgbode

    Put my main ones in WWW, so I’ll be brief on those:

    Winner: 2nd year players (other than below), Kizer
    Loser: Tretter, S.Coleman, Kessler

    Neutral: Jabrill Peppers. He had a non-descript day as he did well anytime he was needed but also did not break a crazy long return and was too deep on pass defense to get his nose dirty much (by design) though he broke up some passes and you could see his makeup speed on routes. I get why GW put him in that role and it was a positive first game (just not a plus game).

  • tigersbrowns2

    i was a little surprised to see Danny Shelton on the field yesterday … and how about T.J. Watt ??

  • I’ll be tinkering with color schemes on the site from time to time. Hopefully I can change a few things and leave others alone.

  • Garry_Owen

    “Current Champ.” I like how that rolls off the eyes.

  • Chris

    “…safeties were playing so deep that I couldn’t see them on TV”

    At least the Browns D only looked like 9 v 11 on TV. Last year, they looked like that in person.

  • jpftribe

    Winner: Hue’s clock management. Cost Yinzers a lot of dough forcing them into a knee at game’s end.

  • theMike

    I was begging the TV to see our Safeties, and our CBs for that matter, jamming AB a few times making it harder for him to get into his route. It’s possible Greg Williams knows they’re not up for that against the likes of AB though.

  • mgbode

    There is definitive eye rolling involved, yes.

    https://m.popkey.co/169854/4MkoX.gif

  • BenRM

    HAH! That was good.

  • tigersbrowns2

    WINNERS : Kizer , C.Coleman , Schobert , all the DB’s.

    LOSERS : Britt & J. Collins … i’m expecting more from the highset paid LB in the NFL

  • mgbode

    all the DBs???

  • BenRM

    Watt, unfortunately, looks like a good player.

  • theMike

    He, unfortunately, looks like a beast.

  • Garry_Owen

    Steelers fans??

  • tigersbrowns2

    yep … all the CLEVELAND DB’s … i thought as-a-whole they played well

  • Party favors??

  • Garry_Owen
  • Harv

    Won’t repeat my comments from the other thread, but will add this: not one time did I think “man, Joe Haden could’ve made a play there.” Would rather see kids periodically getting burned while improving than his desperate compensatory tricks (holding, politicking for penalties) and reading more nonsense him being this close to returning to his ’14 skill set.

  • Chris
  • Harv

    (MY man)

  • CBiscuit

    Champ! Glad to see you were acquitted at your Trial!

  • Garry_Owen

    Nah. They give us 2 hours a day computer time, and like, 6 hours a day of weightlifting. I’m going to be swole in 10-15.

  • Chris

    Orange / Orangier / Brown

  • mgbode
  • mgbode

    He had quite the good game. His two sacks though were on stunts when Crowell and DeValve ended up being the blockers on him. Still, design is part of what factors into the skill.

  • mgbode

    My question revolves around Antonio Browns’ day. It is difficult to award the entire group a winner ribbon given Brown.

  • Garry_Owen
  • tigersbrowns2

    the big 50+-yard gainer that he had was on a tipped pass … most everything else was underneath & Antonio Brown doing what Antonio Brown does … the defense only gave up 14 points to a good offensive team.

  • MartyDaVille

    WINNER: MORAL TIE. It wasn’t a moral victory, but it wasn’t a moral beat-down either.

    WINNER: THE NEWEST NAME ON THE JERSEY. He looked a whole lot better than most of the rookie QBs they’ve run out there.

    WINNER: ROETHLISBERGER. A Pittsburgh newspaper writes that since ’99, Roethlisberger has won more games in Cleveland than any Browns QB has.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/steelers/2017/09/10/Ben-Roethlisberger-Steelers-quarterback-winningest-in-Cleveland-T-J-Watt-Stephon-Tuitt/stories/201709100210

    LOSER: THE NFL. Most of us can tell if a receiver caught the ball or not right away, and we’ve been able to do this since we were six years old. The anal-retentive NFL has turned this into a time-consuming, needlessly legalistic exercise in quantum complexity.

    WINNER: WATCHABLE NEAR-MEDIOCRITY. Although I didn’t watch it. Had the radio on while enjoying a glorious fall afternoon outside. Donovan and Diek are still great.

    LOSER: HOMERISM. That was definitely an interference penalty on the Browns early and definitely a catch by the Antonio Brown at the end.

  • CBiscuit

    Exhausting. Thank God for all that meth so you can keep up with the comments today.

  • BenRM

    It was 100% a catch.
    And it was watchable! It looked like real NFL football!

  • Harv

    the new catch criteria make me nuts. Let the refs and NY replay peeps employ Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography: we know it when we see it. Let the talking heads blabber on. And let’s move on to the next play sans talk of “secondary acts” and whatnot.

  • tigersbrowns2

    yep … Ben is 11-2 in Cleveland against the Browns … i was at that Thursday night game years ago & froze my sack off , but the Browns did win … he is great , no doubt. he is 35 years old right now , by the time we turn the corner in 2019 , he’ll be 37 & about done (i hope).

  • tigersbrowns2

    i know replay can drive you nuts sometimes , but it SHOULD prevent a major blunder from happening , especially in a meaningful game … i’m sure there are some past teams that got screwed because there was no replay. they just need to make replay decisions quicker.

  • Harv

    ok … (gasp) … this is how Russian operatives turn pathetic middle-aged guys. Have to return to work with full faculties so, uncle. dyadya, cut a brother a break

  • mgbode

    MLB almost went the NFL route on defining a catch, then realized how ridiculous it was and retracted the fine point rules.

  • Garry_Owen

    There are so many beautiful gif responses to this, but it is affecting my work faculties, so, the break is cut.

  • Eric G

    Steelers fans complaining about all the flags/yards. I’m over here trying to convince them that they’re just getting caught more. Craig said it on Twitter yesterday and I believe it, too, that they are absolutely coached to be dirty. No other way to explain year-after-year abuse of the rules.

  • Eric G

    Winner: AB’s tip drills

  • mgbode

    Absolutely. One of my best friends in the office is a Steeler fan. He was whining about Shazier’s hit (of all things). Something about Shazier going into his dive at same time Kizer went into his.

    I brought up the video and showed him how Shazier put his head down and hit the crown of his helmet into Kizer and how legal tackling (instead of spearing) would have allowed him to let up on a diving QB. He was “unconvinced.”

  • Eric G

    …as Steelers fan so often are

  • scripty

    right. he had a very nice game but also had a horrific penalty. the steelers defense he has the glory role so if the OLB are not making many plays, they are in deep turdwater. I actually think he’s going to get wore down this season (plenty of time for him to get JJ’s peds to bulk up) but I will reserve judgmnt and give him a season. solid first game though

  • CBiscuit

    Yeah, and I think it’s opportunist of those dirty aholes. Over the years, we’ve had such bad teams, that the James Harrisons of the world just load up and can’t wait to deliver a vicious hit on some typical scrub WR of ours over the middle or the usual QB exposed and running for his life (McCoy). Easy prey

  • CBiscuit

    Doctors have told Shazier that leading with the head will stimulate hair growth.

  • scripty

    Losers: Tretter, all our CBs, (too passive in our red zone, need to see some WR jams),
    Winner: Shelton toughed out a game, hustling downfield. Overall depth

    Jury still out: Gregg Williams – where was the COME GET SOME in the key 2nd half 3rd down plays? dropping 7/8? Meh.

  • Chris

    It ain’t no fun unless we all get some… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/02b2ea7afb9d951a0d09b192af59aeb9559e88a7992a29e2c0cb7cd668948abb.gif
    ***Finding a safe-for-work GIF was quite difficult***