Each year, when Browns fans are going through the schedule, a select number talks themselves into beating one or two of the AFC North teams, usually at home. While Andy Dalton and the Bengals are a standard HEY WE SHOULD GET AT LEAST ONE OF THESE, Joe Flacco and the Ravens, lacking much in the way of marquee names on either side of the ball, oftentimes get a share of this pie.
The thinking is, Flacco is overpaid. He’s bruised and battered. Their running backs are Buck Allen and Alex Collins? And who is Flacco throwing the ball to? Ben Watson and Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace? I mean, that would’ve been solid in 2011, am I right?
Wrong. The Ravens have their sights set on the playoffs and the Browns are a disgrace. They may be old and overpaid and lacking anything in the way of household names, but they just laid a 17-point win over the Browns in Cleveland.
I literally don’t even know what to say at this point. Good news is, I’m not alone.
LOSER: DeShone Kizer
LOSER: Hue Jackson
Looking at the box score, one would see the Browns amassing 130 yards on the ground. Great, right? Well, yes—until you realize that they had 108 in the first half, against a terrific Baltimore defense, and only ran the ball five more times in the entire second half. Not running the ball does a multitude of things, including, but not limited to, forcing your 21-year-old quarterback to make plays without having play-making options on the receiving end.
“Not a good day at the office,” Jackson would say following the game. We would tend to agree.
That was smooth. pic.twitter.com/OnZkMTAWi2
— Jake Burns (@jake_burns18) December 17, 2017
WINNER: Duke Johnson
Another great game from Johnson after a few games worth forgetting earlier this month. Duuuuuuke hauled in five passes (seven targets) for 40 yards while adding another 23 yards on the ground, including a touchdown. New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara is getting a ton of love for being elusive, but it’s Johnson Jr. who is right behind him in missed tackles on the season, adding two more this past Sunday. Shout out to Isaiah Crowell as well, despite his who four catches for -7 yards thing.
LOSER: David Njoku
A complete non-factor on Sunday. Njoku ran 22 routes and received zero catches for zero yards on just one target. While I’d have to go back through the video to see why he only received on target on the day, he was 21st in tight end routes for Week 15, but 41st in targets. This is less than ideal.
WINNERS: Christian Kirksey and Carl Nassib
Kirksey should be getting some Pro Bowl consideration at this point. Here’s PFF:
Another productive showing from Kirksey who racked up 5 stops for the sixth time this season, putting his season total at 57, 6 shy of his career high set last season. Kirksey made the most of plays in front of him, picking up 3 of his 5 stops against the Ravens’ short passing game. Kirksey tied for the team lead in stops with fellow LB James Burgess Jr., with all three of the Browns’ starting linebackers playing every defensive snap.
Not mentioned: Kirko’s six stops were six of his 13 total tackles. He also recorded a tackle for a loss and pass defensed.
If you would have asked me to list off players I thought would never be dubbed “Winners” in one of these columns this season, Nassib would be there. That said, the kid played his ass off on Sunday, setting the edge, getting three stops in the run game, getting credit with one hit and one hurry in pass rush, and batting away a screen attempt in the second half. For a Browns team that has been obliterated by the screen pass for much of the last decade, it would appear not letting the ball get to the running back is a superb way to stop said screen from taking place.
LOSER: Josh Gordon
Eleven targets are much better than the single-digit variety from a week ago, but man—a tough afternoon. A lot of focus is being paid to a play where Gordon was supposed to sit unnderneath a Cover 2 zone midway through the third quarter, but ran a fly route instead. Kizer would miss the throw, leaving it behind his receiver, and the Browns would be forced to punt. While the focus on Gordon as a legit weapon is a good thing, it’s clear that there needs to be a bit of chemistry building between the rookie quarterback and the receiver who was in just his second game in three years.
“In the course of the game, I was ready to book it, try to go get a big chunk of a play as I can, and had a little miscue right there,” Gordon said on the play. “That’s on me, for sure.”
WINNER: John Dorsey
According to this mock draft, Sir John is staring at not only getting his choice of quarterback at No. 1, but Saquon Barkley at No. 6? Also, if the Houston Texans continue to lose, that No. 6 could be No. 4. Not a bad way to start a tenure as GM… Assuming he actually uses those hard, hard-earned picks.
LOSER: Sashi Brown
While I still maintain the Browns are completely wasting Jabrill Peppers’ rookie season, Tony Jefferson was solid on Sunday, allowing zero yards in coverage. The Browns wanted Tony Jefferson, but are such an abomination that he was willing to take less money to play in Baltimore. Worse, the Browns are so bad even Bill Belichick wouldn’t trade Jimmy Garoppolo (who threw for 381 yards in yet another Niners win, by the way) to them out of sympathy, taking less from San Francisco earlier this season. When you can’t even throw money at problems, you’ve done something terribly, terribly wrong. This, apologists, is the collateral damage of believing you have to completely bottom out in order to eventually become a contender. Draft picks, though.
WINNER: Kyle Korver
The 37-year-old Korver outscored the Browns all by himself with just six shots in 23 minutes off of the bench on Sunday. I’m not sure which side of this is more impressive.
Sundays, as mentioned last week, have become a Pit of Misery. Thankfully, with the combination of Buffalo Bills fans (dubbed “Bills Mafia”) and social media, I’ve been entertained to levels previously thought to be unfathomable when my days were solely dependent upon the Browns.
For those unaware, here’s a snippit from this past Sunday alone:
A very ambitious idea today in Buffalo: Slam a Mafia member through TWO tables…can't say I've ever seen it accomplished pic.twitter.com/XesVGWrl9F
— Busted Coverage (@bustedcoverage) December 18, 2017
— Busted Coverage (@bustedcoverage) December 17, 2017
LOSER: The Browns fan who tried to replicate #BillsMafia.
Browns tailgates are as pathetic as Browns games pic.twitter.com/H0Pe8WCcfl
— Laces Out (@LacesOutShow) December 17, 2017
Even the tailgating has turned up failure.