Is it starting to sound like a broken record? The Cleveland Browns lost again, and their starting quarterback left the game early due to injury. Cody Kessler entered the concussion protocol on Sunday and Kevin Hogan entered the football game in the second quarter to replace him.
Hogan managed to put together some nice runs on read-option plays when the Bengals showed that they had no belief in Hogan keeping the ball, but other than that was mostly terrible.
I admit that my bias towards Kevin Hogan runs deep. He seemed to be getting a lot of love as a player who should have been drafted in the 2016 NFL Draft, but to me he was always a college quarterback who had no business playing on Sundays. I’m not interested in quarterbacks who know how to win. I’m interested in quarterbacks who have an NFL skill set, and I believe Hogan showed on Sunday that he is only capable of running and executing a college offense.1
Hogan is the Browns’ fifth-string quarterback, but I have no intention of giving him a modicum of credit for anything that went right for the Browns on Sunday. I will give all of that credit to Hue Jackson, who was able to fine tune his offensive game plan to incorporate read option plays for a quarterback who didn’t run many of them in college. Jackson is playing chess out there with pieces he found hidden under the bed, beneath the couch cushions, and buried by the dog in the backyard. The Browns’ head coach never seems to run out of pieces with which to play.
The defense this week was so bad. It was amazingly bad. Even the run defense, which had been a real strength for this squad, was incredibly awful. And yet, the Browns only lost by fourteen points on a day when the Bengals’ offense was able to secure a touchdown on a Hail Mary pass that can largely be attributed to luck at the end of the half. The defense must have done at least one minor thing correctly, right? Yes. They got a little bit of pressure on Andy Dalton, which was quite unexpected given the quality of Cincinnati’s offensive line. Emmanuel Ogbah liked last week’s sack so much that he doubled his personal record bringing his season total up to three sacks. If Ogbah has finally turned the corner, then there is certainly one positive outcome from this mess.
QB Hits: 4
Tackles for loss: 4
Passes Defensed: 2
Week 7 PRESSURE Grade: 2 (out of 5)
GETTING OFF THE FIELD
Get ready for this one. This should adequately convey the horribleness of the Browns’ defense. They didn’t force a single fumble and didn’t notch a single interception, and the Browns offense rarely had a short field with which to work. They allowed the Bengals to convert half of the third downs they saw. The time of possession was a positive, but only because the defense gave up so many huge plays. Hue can’t be pleased with his defense’s attempts to get off the field.
Third Down Conversion Percentage: 50 percent
Potential Takeaways: 0
Opponent Time of Possession: 28:12 (out of 60:00)
Week 7 GETTING OFF THE FIELD Grade: 1
Kevin Hogan had a long touchdown run that he finished off with a powerful burst into the end zone. The Bengals were not at all prepared for his read-option plays, and the Browns were able to capitalize for a short time racking up 104 rush yards for Hogan. Cody Kessler had a well-crafted 21 yard screen pass to Malcolm Johnson. Isaiah Crowell was able to get loose for a 21 yard run. Those were the three long plays for the Browns on Sunday. Gary Barnidge was able to make some impressive one-handed grabs to move the chains.
Otherwise, the Bengals kept the offense bottled up. The passing game after Kessler left with his injury was completely laughable, so it’s tough to determine how much of an impact guys like Terrelle Pryor and Ricardo Louis could have had if Kessler had remained healthy throughout the game.
Plays of 20-plus Yards: 3
Red Zone Conversion %: 50
Yards/Run Play: 6.9
Yards/Pass Plays: 4.6
Week 7 PLAYMAKERS Grade: 3
The Browns’ much maligned center, Cameron Erving, ended up missing this game with an undisclosed illness. John Greco moved back to the center position and Spencer Drango manned the left guard position. This game of musical chairs at the offensive line positions has not helped to build any sort of consistency, and it’s been showing up the protection grade each week. The offensive line has logged a score of one or two in each week except Week 4 and Week 5. They haven’t registered a score above three, and that makes a lot of sense given what we have seen on the field each week.
The quarterbacks are running for their lives behind an offensive line with the best left tackle in the league. I’d like to see Hue Jackson go for broke and put both Spencer Drango and Shon Coleman in the starting five. At this point there is nothing to lose. It would be difficult for the offensive line to perform worse than they have the last two weeks. Jackson might as well give the young guys a chance.
Opponent Sacks: 2
Opponent QB Hits: 11
Opponent Tackles for Loss: 5
Week 7 PROTECTION Grade: 1
It was another largely disappointing effort against a middling and beatable opponent. The Bengals’ offense has struggled to consistently score points since Hue Jackson left to coach the Browns. Their defense has also taken a big step back, going from the second best defense to the 18th defense in points allowed. If the Browns had brought their best effort and were able to shake off the injury bug for one week, this would have been a good chance to grab their first win of the season. Instead they will continue to kick that can down the road and hope that either Cody Kessler or Josh McCown are healthy enough to play in Week 8 against a New York Jets team that has had its own problems at the quarterback position. The Browns will play just their third game at home against a defense that has been the second best in the league at shutting down the run game.
My usually sunny disposition is darkening. If the Browns are forced to trot out Kevin Hogan as the starting quarterback against a Jets defense that will almost certainly be ready for the read-option offense, then this game could be extremely difficult to stomach. Now would be a good time to stock up on bourbon.
- Yes, I realize Stanford runs a pro style offense, so I am referring more to an offense that would succeed in college rather than an actual style of offense. [↩]