Overtime games are long, which only serves to make what has become all too common of an outcome that much tougher of a pill to swallow.
While the rest of the 1 p.m. teams are boarding the team buses, here are the Browns getting in another 10 minutes of work. And it’s almost always 10 minutes—it just feels like 30. The dropped passes or the missed holes are magnified; the penalties sting that much more.
When your team is one fourth down fumble or one botched quarterback sneak or one missed 59-yard field goal away from winning a game on the road, the final outcome, in this case, a 26-23 loss, feels like another blast to the beans.
Here are this week’s Winners and Losers.
LOSER: Hue Jackson
If you were one of the few folks remaining who were Stanning for Hue Jackson, there’s a good chance October 21, 2018 was the day your music died. For what felt like the 15th time in seven weeks, the Cleveland Browns had multiple chances to win a football game. For what was the 13th time (if we’re using the 15 as a starting point), they did not. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers turned the ball over four times, including once in overtime, while committing eight penalties. Nevertheless, the Browns, thanks to an incomprehensible 59-yard field goal off the foot of a man who earlier missed a chip-shot field goal and an extra point, took an L larger than the one Drake handed Kanye on HBO’s “Barber Shop.”
The Cleveland Browns are the only team in the NFL to have not scored a touchdown in a first quarter this season. If you thought Tampa Bay’s eight penalties was a lot, wait until you see the 14 the Browns were flagged for, with six of those 14 resulting in a fresh set of downs for the opponent. Jackson’s response postgame? ” “I’m not going to continue to watch something that I know how to do, keep being that way. That’s just the truth. That’s nothing against anybody in our building. I just think that’s what I do and I think I need to be a little bit more involved.” Here’s a man who led a team to an 0-16 season who thinks the answer his more him and less everyone else.
There is no longer a matter of if the Browns part ways with Jackson; it’s when. If Jackson makes it to the bye week, he has the NFL scheduling gods to thank as a Week 8 bye would certainly mean buh-bye.
WINNER: Baker Mayfield
Mayfield finished the day completing 24 of his 34 attempts for 215 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He used all sides of the field, and was clearly not afraid to use the middle, completing 14 of 16 attempts between the numbers. Wherein Mayfield was unable to pass the ball beyond 10 yards against the Los Angeles Chargers, the deep(er) game was back, completing five passes beyond 10 yards with two of them going for six points a piece.
When not blitzed or pressured, Baker Mayfield was an absolute stud. During the 33 plays where the Buccaneers defense couldn’t apply pressure to the rookie, he completed 21 of his 28 passes, eight of which were for first downs. Sure, things got dicey when pressure was applied. And sure, Mayfield took a few too many sacks. But when three of the five sacks were attributed to the offensive line1 and you have a kid playing in what is his fourth NFL game, you take the good with the bad. He can get better under pressure. If he was playing horribly without pressure2, fans may have some reason for concern.
Factor all of this with the way Mayfield 1) refuses to give up 2) jawed at Jordan Whitehead, who blasted him in the side of the helmet while he was sliding, and 3) called out the official following the game for him being the only quarterback on the planet to not benefit from the new slate of QB rules, and you have yourself a kid who can and does give a fan base confidence.
LOSER: Todd Haley
Anyone who follows football at a relatively advanced level is aware of the script that goes in to the first few drives of an NFL game. Mitchell Trubisky, for example, has been criticized for a lack of ingenuity after Adam Gase’s scripted plays give way to more circumstantial ones. The Cleveland Browns, meanwhile, have exactly the opposite issue, with an otherworldly inability to produce positive yardage (let alone points) during the early portions of games where the offensive side of the ball typically has an advantage. Not only until the Browns are down multiple scores does the playbook open up, allowing Baker Mayfield to make plays down field. The Cleveland Browns have eight3 total first quarter points through seven weeks, and two of those can be attributed to Haley’s counterpart on the defensive side of the ball. Speaking of…
WINNER: Gregg Williams
Sarcastically type all the Gs you want—Williams’ unit got the job done. Myles Garrett turned nine rushes into five hurries and two sacks, one of which was of the “strip” variety. Garrett once again topped the NFL’s “fastest sack” for the week, getting to Winston in 2.2 seconds on one play.4 Denzel Ward was terrific once again, breaking up two passes and allowing just 36 yards on seven targets. Jamie Collins looked like the Jamie Collins Cleveland thought they were getting during the trade, tallying six tackles, four of which were for a loss, while adding a hit on Jameis Winston. BBC was good. TJ Carrie was good. Christian Kirksey filled in admirably for Joe Schobert. The 12 missed tackles were troubling, but once again, the Cleveland Browns’ defense took an otherwise high-powered offense and made them look mediocre, adding a handful more turnovers to their résumé. The Browns slid to No. 6 defense in the league last after their loss to the Chargers, but it’s safe to assume they’re moving back up the list after this Sunday.
LOSER: Jabrill Peppers
Listen, that 32-yard return was fantastic and was much-needed given the circumstances, both in the game and specific to the player. The fumble was brutal, and if we were to rank plays that cost the Browns the game, it’s tough to not put this one up there. The team would have still had to—wait for it…—move the ball, but you simply cannot cough the ball up at that point in the game. He was once again solid in coverage (allowing just one reception on three targets to TE O.J. Howard) and added seven tackles (one of which was for a loss), but none of this was enough to compensate for the turnover.
WINNER: Nick Chubb
On the field for 19 snaps, the rookie took his 18 carries and turned his debut into 80 yards, six first downs, a touchdown, and what could have been much more if not for rushes negated by penalties. Once again, Chubb showed his explosiveness, busting out another 20-plus-yard run in addition to a 12- and 14-yarder. A 7.4 yards-per-attempt average will be unsustainable with Chubb being the team’s bellcow, but if he can keep things in that 4-to-5 range with the occasional explosive play, it will serve the team well.
WINNERS: Jarvis Landry and David Njoku
Jarvis Landry was on the field for 67 of 68 offensive snaps on Sunday afternoon. Of the 33 passes thrown5, he was targeted on 15 of them. For those who aren’t mathematically inclined, this is a 45 percent target share. To put this in perspective, heading into Week 6, Minnesota’s Adam Thielen led the league in targets per game with 13.5. This compares to Kirk Cousins’ 260 attempts through that same span, meaning the most targeted player in the league has a 31.1 percent target share. Landry had nearly 50 percent more of a share during Week 7, and he turned it into 10 receptions for 97 yards, four first downs, and a ridiculous touchdown wherein he corralled the ball while sliding on his face, and managed to stick the ball out over the goal line realizing he had yet to be touched.
Mayfield had a 106.8 passer rating when throwing to Landry, outdone only by…
David Njoku (133.3). Though credit with two more dropped passes, Njoku caught his other four targets and turned them into 52 yards, two first downs, and a touchdown. Landry’s target share clearly ate into the second-year tight end’s, but this marks back-to-back weeks with touchdowns and a tasty three weeks of suspect defensive backfields in the waiting.
According to NextGen stats, the two touchdowns had completion probabilities of 32.4 percent and 30.7 percent, respectively.
LOSERS: NFL Officiating
They picked up the flag. Then they said this out loud. pic.twitter.com/pBxRpUAlJa
— Ramzy Nasrallah (@ramzy) October 21, 2018
An NFL referee walked to the middle of the field, cracked on his microphone, and said it was totally OK for a player to be hit in the head.
With this exact play being a part of the league’s video package to officials heading into Week 7, I fully expect yet another “Our bad!” memo from the NFL midweek.
“There’s a lot of stuff being put on protecting the quarterback. Doesn’t seem like the Browns are getting a lot of calls,” Mayfield said following the game. “That’s helmet-to-helmet contact. I felt it, but I got up and let the guy know he’s gonna have to hit me a lot harder than that if he wants to affect me.”
And now, the fans:
Losers-Browns, grown men dressed as pirates at Raymond James.
— KJ in CLE (@KJCLEWFNY) October 21, 2018
Hue Jackson: biggest loser in history
— Phil (@bornintheland) October 21, 2018
Winners: Myles and Ogunjobi (gassed but making plays), Jabrill Peppers punt returner, 2nd half Baker. Jarvis’ airplane.
Losers: Discipline, Jabrill Peppers punt returner, 1st Half Baker. O-line. Refs – head hits are legal. 4th down conversions.
— Tim Martins (@timothyamartins) October 21, 2018
Winner: Jabrill for that great return
Loser: Jabrill for that awful fumble
— mga (@matthewganson) October 21, 2018
Losers, Hue Jackson. I don't know who else to blame the penalty thing on, but it's insane
— Andrew Johnson (@DrewFromCleve) October 21, 2018