Browns clinch first overall pick, lose to Bears, 20-3

Dec 24, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer (7) looks to pass the ball against Chicago Bears defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris (95) during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Stop me if you have heard this one before: The Cleveland Browns lost again. In the midst of a snowy Christmas Eve, the Browns fell to the Chicago Bears,  20-3, which drops the Browns to 1-30 in the Hue Jackson era, and one step closer to the winless parade at the climax of an 0-16 season.

The Browns continually made mistake after mistake, and seemed more like a team interested in the offseason than what was in front of them on Sunday.

The beginning of the game saw a slow start in the snow for both teams. The Browns fell behind 6-0 after a nine-play Bears drive ended in a touchdown, this one from Jordan Howard from two yards out with the extra point blocked by Carl Nassib. The teams exchanged punts for much of the remainder of the first half. The Browns had one lengthy drive that ended in a Kizer interception in the end zone intended for Josh Gordon. Just before half, Kizer hit Ricardo Louis for 35 yards to set up the Browns lone score, a 48-yard field goal that Zane Gonzalez snuck just over the crossbar to make it 6-3 Bears at the half.

The second half saw a swing in momentum the Browns couldn’t overcome. On the Bears’ first play from scrimmage, Myles Garrett intercepted a tipped Mitchell Trubisky pass and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown. As the Browns were celebrating their lead, they realized a flag was thrown for Carl Nassib aligning offside and wiping out the game changing play. The Bears then went 60 yards in four plays to make the score 13-3 Chicago. The Bears would tack on another touchdown to make the score 20-3.

The Browns and Bears went for near identical total yard counts, with the Bears narrowly out-gaining the Browns 258-253. The difference was the Browns’ three giveaways while the Bears didn’t turn the ball over once. The three turnovers brings the Browns to -28 on the season, two shy of the NFL record. Kizer again struggled for the most part, missing several key opportunities in the downfield passing game, and looking generally uncomfortable again within the Browns’ coach Hue Jackson’s system. He finished 18-of-36 for 182 yards with two interceptions. Trubisky led the Bears in a clean performance going 14-of-23 for 193 yards and one rushing touchdown.

Top Plays
DeShone Kizer second quarter interception

Ricardo Louis 35-yard catch

Myles Garrett interception return (nullified due to penalty)

Jordan Howard 16 yard touchdown run


Browns Top Performers

Duke Johnson: 7 catches, 81 yards

James Burgess: 9 tackles, 1 sack, 3 TFL

Larry Ogunjobi: 4 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL


On to the next one

The Browns close the season at Pittburgh next week in search of avoiding the NFL’s first winless season since the 2008 Detroit Lions. The game is slated for a 1 p.m. kickoff on New Year’s Eve.

  • Skulb

    Well, no team can run the ball when they go down by multiple scores. Or maybe they can. But they don’t when they are trailing. Not even the Cowboys run very much when they are behind. So since you keep repeating this in your criticism of Jackson as a coach, as if you need it, and considering that leading games is the main reason teams lean on the run so that they may run clock, allow me to sum up this particular perspective for the Browns’ 2017 season. I’m all for criticizing Jackson, but this is in my opinion nonsensical criticism given the circumstances.

    Time spent with lead in 2017:

    Week 1 vs Pittsburgh : 0 minutes
    Week 2 vs Baltimore : 0 minutes.
    Week 3 vs Indy : 0 minutes.
    Week 5 vs Cincy : 0 minutes.
    Week 6 vs New York : 5 minutes.
    Week 7 vs Houston : 0 minutes.
    Week 8 vs Tennessee : 0 minutes
    Week 9 vs Minnesota : 26 minutes
    Week 10 vs Detroit : 17 minutes.
    Week 11 vs Jacksonville : 0 minutes.
    Week 12 vs Cincy : 0 minutes.
    Week 13 vs LA : 2 minutes.

    Week 14 vs Green Bay : 35 minutes.
    Week 15 vs Baltimore : 0 minutes.
    Week 16 vs Chicago : 0 minutes.

    So to sum up, the Cleveland Browns have spent a total of 85 minutes with a lead this season. Since each game is 60 minutes long, obviously subtracting seemingly twelve hours of commercial breaks, this means that the Browns have spent 85 out of 900 minutes with a lead. This is obviously not very good, but that isn’t why I painstakingly went through this rigmarole of a schedule to count minutes. They have been in a position to run the ball for traditional reasons for less than 10% of the time this season. Or are you suggesting that they should run the ball anyway in order to attempt to hide incompetence at QB? Because if anything could make the Browns any less likely to score, this would be exactly it. Instead of the odd semi-competitive game because the offense scores points now and then you will take up permanent residence in Blowout City. Thar she blows!

  • mgbode

    Browns best play last week was 59 yard run from Crowell both OL & runner. Never got another carry despite the score being close. Jackson then said the run didn’t impress him, so no reason to go back to it. Crowell was upset. Reports were Hue lost locker room. First game players did not seem they tried was against Bears.

    These things are not coincidences and the season-long issue of Jackson ignoring the ground game during close games (even when not in the lead) has helped us get to this point.

  • Skulb

    Not disputing that. Just saying that the run-pass ratio was better than the NFL average in the three games the Browns were leading in for any meaningful length of time. And consequently that it is not a valid criticism of Jackson on the whole that he abandons the run. At least not statistically. I just can’t understand that with all these seemingly endless things to complain about with Hue Jackson, this is the thing people almost seem the most upset by. He’s trailing 90% of the time so he throws the ball. Every single NFL head coach would do the same thing.

  • Harv

    Disagree with both your premise and the way you’ve presented the facts. Teams run all the time when they’re behind. The startling thing about this year is how Hue has virtually abandoned the run, game after game, while the score is close. Handing it off just 3 or 5 times in a half guarantees that the defense pins it’s ears back, safeties can cheat back, etc. Your lumping all minutes when the Browns were losing as “traditional” passing time is just not the NFL I’ve watched my entire life. I mean, in some games when the Browns had their brief leads the opponent effectively responded by running it down our throats. When you’re down 3 scores with 8 minutes left that’s its own situation but doesn’t explain last Sunday or a half a dozen other games. And earlier in the season Hue himself acknowledged this problem, although now he defensively laughs it off.

    And yes, I commented before the season, and said it on a podcast, that given the ridiculous situation the team put Kizer in – starting him with no experience, no mentors, no established receivers, and ferocious pass rushing in this division – they should go run heavy. Even suffer 3-and-outs with all runs. That would give Kizer time to grow, keep safeties from cheating back, and help this team learn to effectively run. Instead, Hue idiotically went the other way. Not because they were always losing, but because he flat out panics during games.

  • BenRM

    I agree with you here. Hue abandons the run when he’s down by a field goal in the 3rd quarter sometimes.

  • Skulb

    But doesn’t the Packers game prove the opposite? 27 to 28 is above the league average as far as running the ball goes. Not even saying it’s right or wrong, but if you look at coaches around the league, they all “abandon the run” when they fall behind. We keep getting this from Gruden with the Skins too, and it’s always because the defense collapses and gives up a big deficit so the Skins start hurling the ball downfield to catch up. And it’s about the clock. When you lead the game the clock is your friend and you can run the ball, which is basically a Gruden quote.

    If you’re trying to win I guess. Maybe that was Jackson’s mistake this season. If he had been more zen about endlessly losing, maybe he could have done what you said on the podcast. But assuming he wasn’t, throwing the ball is what coaches do to catch up in games. Not sure what version of the NFL you have been watching recently if you haven’t noticed this. Maybe it was different in the past. I am more upset with the quality of the passing plays, and particularly their execution. Nothing wrong with passing the ball if you do it well.