Sports fans talk themselves into pitchers’ duels when they’re watching baseball. Football is a game where it’s often said that defense wins championships, but nobody really wants to watch a defensive struggle unless the defenses are also doing some scoring. That was my general thought as the Browns and Jags got it on in First Energy Stadium in Cleveland on Sunday. This was a defensive struggle that felt almost as much like offensive futility as it did dominant defense. It was a festival of punts and turnovers as the Browns threw the ball too much and Jacksonville played prevent offense running the ball constantly for about three yards per attempt. Both teams punted like crazy, totalling 17 between them. Browns lost and had a chance to win in the fourth quarter, but two straight turnovers – one for a Jags TD – ended an ugly day in downtown Cleveland, 19-7 bad guys.
I do want to be fair to the Browns. Most weeks, I’d simply criticize the Browns’ offense for putting up just seven points and turning the ball over five times, but against the Jaguars, it’s reasonable for them to struggle. The Jags defense is legit. Even that said, the Browns’ first quarter on offense was ugly and told the tale for the whole game. In four possessions, the Browns averaged 2.5 plays per possession with three 3-and-outs and a one-play drive ending in a DeShone Kizer interception. The word futility doesn’t even do it justice. Thankfully, the Browns defense was holding up his end of the bargain for making it a defensive struggle. The Browns trailed the Jags 7-0 at the end of one quarter. The touchdown the Browns gave up was a 33-yard drive that was handed to Blake Bortles and company via Kizer interception.
The Browns finally put a drive together after surrendering a field goal to make it Jags 10-0. DeShone Kizer had one of the best drives o the season as he found Corey Coleman twice for 20, and 8 yards. Kizer rushed for 10 before finding Duke Johnson down the middle for a pretty touchdown pass that just made it between the corners and the safeties.
DUUUUUUKE! What a throw by DeShone Kizer. pic.twitter.com/gTJS2HtNnV
— WaitingForNextYear (@WFNYCLE) November 19, 2017
It was a necessary response after the Browns’ offense was so listless for the entirety of the first quarter. This one drive was about the only entertaining portion of the first half. Browns went into the locker room down 10-7.
The rest of the game was just as non-descript. The Jags hit a field goal and the aforementioned defensive touchdown to win 19-7. The Jags won four in a row and also went undefeated against the AFC North for 2017. They held serve on offense all day handing the ball off more than 40 times with 28 carries going to Leonard Fournette.
The Browns only handed the ball off 13 times to running backs for a mere 28 yards. The result was DeShone Kizer throwing two interceptions, and one TD, whole going 16/32 for 179 yards. Additionally, Kizer fumbled three times, losing two. Yuck.
The Jaguars defense is good, but the Browns’ gameplan was lacking much intelligence in terms of trying to maximize what they do well and what they don’t do well. Watching Doug Marrone manage the gameplan to account for his stellar defense and the not-so-stellar Blake Bortles should be eye-opening for Browns fans that have watched DeShone Kizer throw the ball quite a bit. For the season, Bortles’ has led the Jags to a 7-3 record while attempting just 31.5 passes per game on average. That’s basically the same average as DeShone Kizer, but there’s a huge difference. The Jags have rushed the ball 349 times this season while the Browns have rushed it 238 times.
Despite the tough day, it still feels like the Browns are fighting hard and could win a game this year. That’s where we are as a site covering this team. We’re trying to figure out if they can win a single game. I know you all know that, but it’s important to say it out loud just to remember how bad it is. The Browns still have the Chargers, Packers (without Aaron Rodgers,) and the Chicago Bears to go on their schedule. Those are three pretty good chances, even for these Cleveland Browns.
Ricardo Louis got plastered on punt coverage. It’s not a flag for hitting a defenseless player, but at some point in the future it probably should be a penalty. You’ve got a guy on punt coverage running full speed at a guy – the receiver – that he’s not allowed to hit, but that receiver can decide to let the ball go and hammer the defender on his way to cover. It’s ugly on tape.
— Da❌on Kec❌an (@DownWithDamon) November 19, 2017
Corey Coleman was a sight for sore eyes. The Browns’ best receiver had six catches for 80 yards and was one of the only weapons the Browns had that could get open.
Watching Myles Garrett physically toss a left tackle is really fun.
myles garrett is going to be a monster pic.twitter.com/BysrYbnEo7
— charles mcdonald (@FourVerts) November 19, 2017
Browns lose Ogbah to broken foot.
As if the loss wasn’t bad enough, #Browns coach Hue Jackson said DE Emmanuel Ogbah has a broken foot. … Jackson also said DeShone Kizer will start next week.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 19, 2017