The NFL, in a year of incredible parity, now has one winless team: Your Cleveland Football Browns. Given that the San Francisco 49ers were losing the strength of schedule tie breaker when both teams were tied, this means all of those folks who refer to the Browns as “we” when discussing the need for better draft positions1 can rest assured that even if the Browns were to miraculously win a game in the next seven weeks, they would still get to draft first overall this coming spring.
The thought that wins can be a bad thing will always baffle me, but the good news is this no longer has to be discussed.
Could the Los Angeles Chargers come to the rescue once again? There’s hilarious, and then there’s the potential for the same team to be the only one to lose to the Browns twice in a two-year stretch. We’ll cross this bridge when we come to it, but the Chicago Bears look pretty bad as well, and they’re sitting there at Week 16. The suspense!
WINNER: DeShone Kizer
In what was easily Kizer’s most complete game as a professional, the rookie put together drives, delivered over-the-shoulder passes down the sideline, and extended plays with his legs. It was the sort of game—final score notwithstanding—that Browns fans have been waiting for. His team’s passing-game turnover was a fumble by a tight end. Before the end of the first half, Kizer looked like a man who was not going to let his team go into halftime down (more on this later). Knocked out of the game for two series2 as the team examined him for broken ribs, Kizer came back with one hell of a fourth-quarter drive, one which included three (THREE) fourth-down conversions. Before the injury, Kizer completed 15-of-24 attempts for 178 yards with one TD and no INTs for a 99.0 rating. Strip out the four dropped passes3 and Kizer completed 64 percent of his passes for 232 yards. He added seven runs for 57 yards, taking contact when needed, but sliding into safety like a veteran. Given the weapons Kizer has to work with, it was a heck of a performance…
LOSER: DeShone Kizer
…outside of this game-tilting play. As it unfolded, Twitter immediately skewered Hue Jackson, but Twitter (you won’t believe this…) appears to be way freaking wrong. The play appears to have come in as a play-action pass to a streaking Seth Devalve. Watch the top of the formation as No. 87 drags across the end zone. If this was supposed to be a sneak or a run play (with no timeouts remaining) Devalve would have been blocking the right edge and not running a shallow cross while looking back for the ball. Watch, also, as Kenny Britt puts his hands in the “what the hell was that?” position.
Neither Kizer nor head coach Hue Jackson would get into the play4, but it went from one that should have, at the very least, resulted in three points after the Lions called a completely unnecessary timeout before the Browns set up to spike the ball. The end result was one of the worst plays in the entire NFL for Week 10, and it appears to have been an audible by the rookie quarterback. Jackson and Duke Johnson Jr. had every right to be pissed about what transpired.
WINNER: Hue Jackson
He ran the ball in the second half despite being down. He gave Duke Johnson 16 touches. He kept his quarterback in the game for all four quarters!
“I saw a guy who was competing and playing quarterback,” Jackson said after the game. “He was firing up the offense, the defense and the special teams. The lessons and conversations that we’ve had, they’re catching on. I saw a better version of him today. I see a guy who’s starting to get it, and that’s huge. There’s a method to my madness. He’s getting there. That’s what I look for. That’s all you can ask for, and I’m seeing the results of his work.”
LOSER: Hue Jackson
It comes down to two number: 1 and 24. The Browns are now tied with the Lions for the worst 46-game stretch in NFL history at 4-42, a streak that’s bound to be broken in Week 11 as the Jacksonville Jaguars are more than a touchdown favorite.
The clock management at the end of the first half was atrocious. Having Cody Kessler above Kevin Hogan on the depth chart (only for him to come in and produce a QBR of 0.2) is ridiculous. Hogan’s “ribs” were fine weeks ago. Put him at No. 2. Also: Losing Jamie Collins to a knee injury may be a huge blow.
WINNERS: Emmanuel Ogbah and Trevon Coley
Emmanuel Ogbah is quietly having himself one hell of a sophomore campaign. He may not be the pass-rushing extraordinaire Cleveland fans thought they were getting a season ago, but he’s proving to be one of the more versatile players on the defensive side of the ball. Of his 433 snaps this season, Ogbah has lined up as an edge rusher 275 times. The other 158 times have featured him on the inside of the front seven in some capacity, be it as a hand-down end in a 4-3 (111 snaps) or interior lineman/linebacker (47). During Week 10, Ogbah had a similar split between left edge and left end/tackle, and played extremely well, recording three tackles (all for a loss) and two sacks. He’s tied for the team-lead in sacks (4) after leading the team last season.
Coley, conversely, has been exclusively played as an interior lineman and continues to be one of the team’s biggest surprises when you consider he was on the outside looking in before balling out during the preseason. Against the run, Coley had two solo stops. Against the pass, he had two pressures on Matt Stafford and recorded two batted balls at the line of scrimmage. These are the sort of plays that get overlooked when a team loses a game by 14 points.
LOSERS: Myles Garrett and Jamie Meder
Garrett had three hurries and looked as if he was going to be disruptive throughout the game, but disappeared against the run and his offside penalty late in the game was brutal as it eventually led to a Lions touchdown. When you’re down seven and its 3rd-and-11, you simply need to have the discipline to not have a bone-headed penalty—more so when the guy on the other side of the ball is Matt Stafford.
Meder gets mentioned here as he’s going to be the poster child for Gregg Williams’ decision to swap out the entire defensive line, only to have it absolutely gouged in the run game. In the first quarter alone, with the Browns up 10, Williams went with Carl Nassib, Meder, and Nate Orchard. The Lions countered with four straight runs, totaling 47 yards. The Browns’ defense as a whole has been solid against the run, but the Lions clearly saw something with the second unit that allowed them to be exposed at the highest level.
WINNERS: Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr.
The Browns tallied more than 200 yards on the ground in this one, much of which came in the second half. Here’s PFF on their successes:
The Browns worked their way into this game on the ground with the three headed monster of Crowell, Duke Johnson and DeShone Kizer racking up a 200-yard game on the ground. Crowell led the way with 90 yards, 59 of them after first contact, three missed tackles forced and a touchdown run outrunning the Lions’ contain inside the 10-yard line. This marked the the second-straight week for Crowell topping 5.0 yards per carry, 3.0 yards per carry after contact, multiple missed tackles forced and a touchdown. Browns fans will hope Crowell and the running game are rounding back to 2016 form.
In addition to his 10 carries for 54 yards on the ground, Johnson Jr. added six catches (six targets) for 34 yards through the air. It was the type of usage and balance and play calling fans have been clamoring for all season.
LOSER: Derrick Kindred
Check out the defensive back in the top right-hand corner of the clip below. What follows is a running back draw that runs effectively right in the direction of said defensive back, but said defensive back stands still as if his shoes are stapled to the turf at Ford Field. It’s not until the play comes to an end where said defensive back considers moving, only to avoid the pile of humanity that is laying at his feet, having collectively crossed the goal line. Inexcusable.
WINNER: Kenny Britt
Kenny Britt not only caught a pass, but he forced a defender to miss and crossed the goal line. With one play, Dwayne Bowe cements himself as the worst free agent receiver signed by the Browns. Fans can only hope this is a launching point of sorts for Britt. The team needs everything they can get.
LOSER: Ricardo Louis
On the Browns’ final play of the game, Louis is supposed to run a fade route to the corner, only to completely give up on the play. He looked more like Jamar Taylor than a receiver and was reportedly chewed out by Kizer following the play. In Louis’ defense, an NFL team should have a better option as a game-saving target in the red zone, but that level of effort at that point in the game is enough to be left at the team hotel.
And now, the fans…
Winners: Kizer, Running backs, tight ends, Ogbah, Shelton, Zane Gonzalez.
Losers: linebackers, secondary, pass rush
— Pat Leonard (@HeyHokie) November 12, 2017
Winners: Kizer and the running game. Losers: Hue and another bonehead in-game decision. Njoku and Devalve. And me because I have to sit through this dumpster fire every week.
— David Boehringer (@dboehringer) November 12, 2017
Winner: Kenny Britt inched past Dwyane Bowe. No longer in the running for biggest free agent receiver bust in Browns history. Kudos on that honor to him.
— michael bode (@mgbode_WFNY) November 12, 2017
Loser: Njoku, had 3 or 4 chances to make a play for his QB and didn't. Then got him killed missing a blitz read
— Andrew Johnson (@DrewFromCleve) November 12, 2017
Winner: Zane Gonzalez managed to not get fired
Loser: me for going to that game
— Joey Stuhldreher (@stuhly92) November 12, 2017
W’s – The running game, Kizer, Ogbah. L’s – Hue at the end of 1st half, the D when we needed it, Kessler
— John Colosimo (@JCozmo) November 12, 2017