Life Comes At You Fast: Cleveland Browns Week 2 Winners and Losers

Every time I’m golfing at a place entirely too nice for my game, and we’re fortunate enough to have a caddie, one of them is bound to say “there are no pictures on the scorecard.” This, of course is in reference too shots which do not necessarily go as intended, but somehow still end up in a place that makes them playable for the next shot. Luckily for the Cleveland Browns, 24-10 losers on Sunday, there are no pictures in the box score as this one should have been much, much worse.

Given all of the turnovers forced by the Ravens (including a strip-fumble early and a bevy of interceptions throughout), one would have expected the difference to have been much, much larger. The Ravens, as appears to be their M.O. for this season, quickly went into clock-bleeding mode, handing the ball off to Terrance West, Buck Allen, and even Alex Collins and Michael Campanaro, essentially daring the Browns — led by a second-year coach and a rookie quarterback — to challenge their world-class defense. Instead of Kizer getting a good kick off a tree, his drives went sailing into the woods. Instead of Isaiah Crowell getting a bounce off the cart path, he appeared to run in to the actual cart, bouncing backward way too often. While the pin placements were tough throughout the entire afternoon, the Browns were lucky to escape with the game only being two scores — the exact gap at which I had forecasted heading into the game.

LOSER: DeShone Kizer

Between the Delay of Game penalties, the interceptions, and the missed time for a migraine, it was an all around rough day for the Rookie. After giving Browns fans rays of hope in Week 1, Kizer played like a 21-year-old who was getting his first taste of road action in the NFL–oh, and it just so happened to be against one of the best defensive units the league has to offer. Again, holding on to the ball way too long. Again, blitz packages leading to some inaccuracy. Much like last week, the issues are correctable. Unfortunately for Kizer, however, it appeared that there was some regression.

There were some post-game thoughts in Week 1 about getting the team to the line quicker. The play below, what would have been a 3rd-and-7, was moved back due to a Delay of Game penalty, which then forced the receivers to have to run longer routes, ultimately giving the Ravens more of a chance to bring the quarterback down. You all know how that sequence ended…

LOSER: Hue Jackson

Another week where Jackson seemingly cannot get a run game going despite all of the resources having been poured into the offensive line. Another week where it’s tough to decipher whether or not failed plays are a result of poor play calling or a lack of execution. It’s safe to consider this Week 2 matchup more of a test than a referendum, but Jackson is now 1-17 as head coach of the Cleveland Browns. What isn’t tough to decipher is the lack of discipline shown by his team, recording an astounding 11 penalties for 65 yards — and those were only the ones accepted. These next three weeks are going to be very, very telling.

WINNER: Joe Thomas

In addition to playing one hell of a game, Thomas also recorded his 10,000th consecutive snap without missing an offensive play. It’s truly incredible, and also a reminder of how unfortunate it was that the guy gave it his all on and off of the field and will likely end his career having not played a single one of those snaps in the playoffs. (For the Browns, anyway…)

LOSER: Isaiah Crowell

I’m not ready to close the book on Isaiah Crowell’s tenure with the Cleveland Browns just yet, but over the last two weeks I see a guy who’s not able to properly bounce outside when holes collapse as well as one who’s struggling mightily in key moments of pass protection. Pittsburgh and Baltimore provide tough challenges, so I’m willing to give some benefit of the doubt. If these struggles continue against Indianapolis, New York, and Cincinnati, however, we may be seeing the last of The Crow in Cleveland.

WINNER: Duke Johnson

Conversely, you have Johnson who racked up 80 combined yards, plugging a hyper efficient 21 yards on four carries and doing the rest through the air. Johnson’s yardage totals from a receiving standpoint would have actually been much higher if not for Kizer missing him multiple times throughout the contest. It would appear that Week 1 film showed Johnson open during several of the sacks which were taken, and that the release valve was a concerted effort. The execution, however, was lacking, including the tipped interception in the first half. Let’s choose to remember Duke for this play instead.

WINNER: Rashard Higgins

From cut, to practice squad, to leading the Cleveland Browns in targets (11) and receiving yards. Seven catches for 95 yards, some of them coming on tremendous plays. I had super high hopes for Higgins following the draft, and that had not exactly panned out. The team opted to move him into the slot where he was able to utilize the middle of the field, amassing 30 of his 95 yards after the catch. Here’s hoping this game was what he needed to build some confidence, as…

LOSER: Corey Coleman

Corey Coleman could be out for a while as the team fears he broke the same hand that forced him to miss time last season. The most unfortunate part is that it appears the injury was the result of the receiver getting sandwiched after an inaccurate throw from Kizer. Here’s hoping for some good news this week as this team is already bereft of play-making options. Especially because…

LOSER: Kenny Britt

Kenny Britt looks utterly disinterested to be on the field. Worse, he follows his horrid game up with this:

WINNERS: Jason McCourty

We wondered who would be the next member of the Browns’ young defense to step up and it appears we have our answer. McCourty was terrific on the edge in run defense, and played such solid coverage that he was only targeted five times while allowing zero receptions and picking one off. His forced fumble late provided the Browns with a glimmer of at least covering the spread, but the offense couldn’t mount any sort of momentum. Great game by McCourty.

LOSER: Jamie Collins Jr.

In addition to being one of the three linebackers to be abused in pass coverage, Collins was ineffective in run defense and may have sustained a concussion.

If any sequence summed up Collins’ day, it was this complete showing of disrespect by Buck Allen on what was effectively a run play on third and long.

WINNER: David Njoku

While the yardage and targets weren’t exactly aplenty, this was a hell of a catch by the rookie. Hopefully a sign of things to come.

LOSER: Greg Williams

Love the toughness that Williams has brought to the table thus far, but for the love of God please find some way to stop a tight end from abusing this team. The Browns perennially make every tight end look like Rob Gronkowski and it’s maddening. Jack Doyle hauled in all eight of his targets in Week 2 against an Arizona defense that boasts one of the best secondaries in football. If the Browns don’t figure this out quickly, the dude could easily drop 100 yards in Week 3.

And now, the fans…