A get-right game for two teams often leads to the less-fortunate one reacting not so favorably to the outcome. For the Cleveland Browns, you have a team that came out in Week 1, making some believe they could hang with a perennial playoff contender, only to regress week-over-week and falling 0-3 to a team starting a quarterback whom they just added weeks earlier. Are they the worst team in football? Tough to argue that the Bears, Bills, Jets, or Colts are worse given that each of them won their Week 3 contests. Are the 49ers worse? They lost by two on the road and appear to have a handful of play makers. Would you rather be the Browns or Jaguars, knowing that the latter beat the Baltimore Ravens to the tune of 44-7, the very same Ravens team which you fell to by two touchdowns.
This was supposed to be the winnable stretch for the Browns, with some fans thinking Cleveland would be heading into Week 6 with a 3-2 record. Now, after what transpired in Week 3, fans are left wondering if they’re not staring down the barrel of an 0-5 start.
WINNER: DeShone Kizer
One look at the box score and it may not look as if DeShone Kizer is improving, but let’s look at the details a bit. Through Weeks 1 and 2, Kizer’s average time to throw was a league-worst 3.19 seconds with his time before being sacked clocked at 4.43 seconds. In Week 3, Kizer held on to the ball, still ranking among the worst in the league, but got rid of it quicker than Deshaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers, and Tyrod Taylor, reducing his time before throw to 3.04 seconds while increasing his time before sack to 4.8. Look: No rookie quarterback should be asked to throw the ball 47 times while the head coach calls a total of 14 rushes for running backs. Only Russell Wilson (49) and Aaron Rodgers (51) threw more passes in Week 3 to put things in perspective. On paper, Kizer’s completion percentage looks abysmal at 22-of-47. Strip out the Hail Mary to end the game and add in the eight (eight!) dropped passes, and suddenly you’re looking at an adjusted completion percentage of 30-of-46—a less-than-ideal number, but one that shows things may have not been all that bad.
Kudos to Kizer for taking the high road postgame when asked about the insane amount of dropped passes, but deep down, the kid has to know that he’s not exaclty getting a fair crack at assessment through three weeks given the lack of weapons coupled with the ridiculous tilt toward passing plays over run plays being called by his head coach. More kudos to the kid for not giving up, earning key yardage with his legs, and delivering tough passes to guys like Kenny Britt who had failed him throughout the prior three quarters.
LOSER: Hue Jackson
So about that play calling. Not only were the pass plays far outweighing the run plays, but even some of the pass plays were questionable. One specific sack Kizer was forced to take earned some commentary from the booth saying “no one was open downfield,” though one look shows that all of the routes were five-yard curls or outs that were run with the defense sitting back because it was 3rd-and-8. Let’s do the kid some favors here, Hue.
WINNER: Duke Johnson Jr.
Clearly the team’s biggest weapon through three weeks, Johnson mysteriously received just eight touches throughout the entire game. For more perspective, here are other Swiss Army Knife-like weapons and their usage in Week 3: Christian McCaffrey (four carries, 11 targets, nine catches), Tarik Cohen (12 carries, four targets, four catches), Chris Thompson (eight carries, seven targets, six catches)… You get the idea. If there’s any silver lining, its that this kid continues to make the most out of his limited opportunities.
LOSER: Sashi Brown
Along those lines, if Duke Johnson is the only weapon to consistently perform on offense, the front office is not doing their job. Sure, Corey Coleman is hurt, but a rookie quarterback can’t be expected to succeed when his most consistent pass catcher is tight end Seth DeValve.
WINNER: Joe Thomas
Joe Thomas played every, single offensive snap (once again) and did not surrender a single, solitary pressure from the left side (through 52 pass-blocking snaps) while also grading out as the team’s best run blocker.1 On the season, Thomas has taken 143 pass-blocking snaps and has allowed just one hit and one hurry. Ho hum.
LOSERS: Entire Browns Receiving Corps not named Jordan Leslie
Big ups to Jordan Leslie for being this week’s Browns receiver who gets signed during the week and puts up a highlight reel play, but the rest of the receiving corps is simply not NFL caliber.
WINNER: Jason McCourty
Fun Fact: Jason McCourty led the defensive unit out of the tunnel this week. Not only has the kid continued to perform well for the Browns, but he appears to have taken on a bit of a leadership role. He’s clearly become the team’s most consistent defensive back (which isn’t the highest of bars, but still…) and looks like a big win for the team’s front office. Now just get him some help.
LOSER: Jamar Taylor
After showing up as one of the team’s best defensive players a season ago, Taylor has been one of its worse through three weeks. Not helping his getting abused in coverage (which happens when you’re defending the opposition’s top receiver) is post-reception loafing like what went down on this T.Y. Hilton touchdown. Pay special attention to No. 21.
WINNERS: Danny Shelton and Jamie Meder
Here’s PFF on Danny Shelton:
Shelton ate up the middle of the field on Sunday, earning an 88.7 run-defense grade from his spot in the defensive interior. Shelton tallied five run stops on 19 run defense snaps; he had just one run stop on 32 run defense snaps in the first two weeks. Shelton had the second-most run stops among all defensive tackles last season, look for more weeks like this one moving forward.
So take what was just said above and add in that Meder outscored Shelton in PFF metrics for the game and you have a hell of an afternoon from the Browns’ interior line.
LOSERS: Gregg Williams and Jabrill Peppers
So, this whole Peppers 25 yards off of the line of scrimmage thing isn’t working. I could write an entire passage on how it was inexcusable to not have a QB spy on Jacoby Brisset in the red zone (especially as I called for this exact thing in our round table), but I’ll focus more on leaving your rookie strong safety hung out to dry. Yes, Peppers needs to take a better angle here. And yes, fair catching that punt without any timeouts left in the fourth quarter was a horrible decision, but something needs to be done about this defensive scheme, especially if it’s *still* not going to stop the big plays from happening.
WINNER: This Browns Fan
We are all this man.
And now, the fans:
Winners: Duke Johnson, Kenny Britt's TD
Losers: middle of 2nd quarter, penalties, drops, also Kenny Britt
— Patrick Mayo (@AquaGlide12) September 24, 2017
Every person who is supposed to catch passes
— Meme Chopz (@Pchopz_) September 24, 2017
Winner: Gregg Little. Had much better hands than we realized at the time.
— Joy Snyder (@joycalhio) September 24, 2017
Big winner of the day had to be deja vu, really gave it 100% today. #DejaVu
— Zachary Thompson (@Zthompson) September 24, 2017
Losers: Jamar Taylor, Hue Jackson, Ricardo Louis, The Crow
Winners: Duke, DLine, Schobert, Kizer (against all odds, he had us in it)
— #TheJake (@Jakerbaker58) September 24, 2017
Winner: Zane Gonzalez he did nothing wrong
Loser: Fans who continually find this losing culture acceptable & define it as "progress"
— Jeff Schwartz (@TheJeffSchwartz) September 24, 2017
Winners. Leslie and Chud.
Losers. Those who didn't get paid to watch but did anyway. ie me.
— Brian Williams (@sixxbri) September 24, 2017
- According to PFF. [↩]