At stake is the end of a two-game losing streak
The Browns have had lots of issues lately. It is a revolving door with who is healthy and who is not playing. Starting QB, fullback, wide receiver, cornerback, offensive tackles…..well, you get the picture.
Cleveland needed to stop the bleeding. In rolls the Denver Broncos who have had issues of their own. Both clubs entered the contest 3-3-0 and don’t want to dig a hole for themselves any further.
Enough of the chit chat – let’s get after this. Who played well for the Browns? Who didn’t?
Opening drive – New quarterback? No problem – just like riding a bike, right? J.C. Tretter and left guard Joel Bitonio were superb in opening holes for who? D’Ernest Johnson? Oh yeh, he’s talented just forgotten. FB Johnny Stanton knocking guys out of the way. QB Casey Keenan threw for success on first down. Seven plays, 75 yards and just 2:40 of clock and suddenly out of the gate, a 7-0 lead. Where has that been?
Defensive effort first half – The Broncos could not get anything going in the first half because Cleveland’s defense had them stymied. S John Johnson had a pick that ended what appeared to be a good enough drive to attempt a field goal. 76 total yards is all this defense allowed. No sacks, but three that were pretty close. Good pressure by DE Takk McKinley, Jadeveon Clowney and Malik McDowell. The big number? Zero points.
RB D’Ernest Johnson – This man was on a mission, and he achieved it by finding holes that at times just weren’t there. He ran consistently better to the rightside between RG Wyatt Teller and RT Blake Hance. Whether it was jump cuts, a duck under or some sort of bounce, tonight Johnson made those moves. On the last drive, it was Johnson’s churning legs that kept the drive going. 22 rushed for 146 yards. Can anyone say “AFC Offensive Player of the Week?“
Punt coverage team – Has anyone noticed that no team gains any yardage against this unit? LB Elijah Lee keeps getting recalled because of his special skills on the punt return unit. Also gaining praise are tacklers Harrison Bryant, Anthony Walker, Herb Miller, Mack Wilson, Richard LeCounte, Sione Takitaki, Johnny Stanton, John Johnson and Grant Delpit.
FB Johnny Stanton – On his third quarter touchdown catch in the left flats, he spiked the ball yet this was his first NFL touchdown. Did someone retrieve that ball for him? Had two short third down plays for first downs. Excellent blocker for several Johnson runs. Old school player.
QB Casey Keenum – When dropping back he had plenty of time to pass on most downs. Did a very good job at managing the game and distributing the football to 10 different players. Made a key fourth-and-three play that basically he was short by two yards at the three and instead broke a tackle from LB Curtis Robinson and then wrangled his way to the one for the first down while bulldozing Justin Strnad in the process. On the Stanton TD, he didn’t try to speedball the pass but instead had a nice touch to the open receiver. 21 of 33 attempts for 199 yards is a good night for a running club.
LB’s Mack Wilson and Anthony Walker – During the first half, Wilson was everywhere. Walker is a beast in tight end coverage as evidenced by him knocking the ball away from Tim Patrick with 8:52 remaining in the game. He sniffed out a screen midway in the second quarter for no gain and led all Browns defenders with 10 total tackles. Wilson finished with six total tackles.
Play calling – Head coach Kevin Stefanski was so on tonight. Nothing displayed this more than the final drive in which shockingly he threw on first down and realizing Johnson had more success to the line’s rightside, he dialed up Johnson right over and over. Used his fullback effectively and got pretty lucky on the fourth-and-three inside the five when Keenum just bullied his way for a first down.
RT Blake Hance and RG Wyatt Teller – Johnson’s big night was predominately run towards the rightside of the line. Hance and Teller both provided huge holes and also slivers which is all Johnson needed. Nice job fellas.
WR Odell Beckham, Jr. – In the first half he was targeted four times with two drops. With 5:03 left in the second quarter, an eight-yard Johnson run was negated because OBJ failed to get lined up properly. So instead of facing a second-and-two, it was now 2/15. With :42 seconds remaining in this same quarter, Keenum laid out a pretty ball right at the sidelines which Beckham had two paws on, yet dropped.
LT Jedrick Wills – In his first game back, Wills had all he could handle with Denver’s Jonathon Cooper on passing downs. In run blocking schemes, Wills had some success but failed repeatedly trying to keep his side of the pocket secure. The lone sack was by Shelby Harris who leaned around Wills.
S Grant Delpit – Had the sack on Broncos QB Teddy Bridgewater right before halftime, but took the shoulder juke and ended up with just jersey instead. Was good in punt coverage. On Javonte Williams’ screen pass for the late Denver touchdown Delpit had his shot at the two-yard line yet whiffed. Last game against the Cardinals he was juked inside the five for a touchdown. Can this guy actually tackle?
Pass rush – For the second game in a row, there wasn’t much as far as a pass rush. There were times when Bridgewater was flushed, but overall he had plenty of time to go through progressions and find his man. Malik McDowell and Malik Jackson were seen several times close to the quarterback, but constant pressure just wasn’t an issue tonight.
Milk Bones – Why do bad things happen to good people? That only happened once and they volunteered
CB Greg Newsome – Allowed two key third downs to be converted, but with just over six minutes left in the game made a great stab at the ball away from Denver’s Tyrie Cleveland. Just before the first quarter was over, Newsome guarded Courtland Sutton who caught it deep for 31-yards. The issue is that if Newsome would have turned his head and located the ball, it would have been an easy interception on the short-armed throw. It was Newsome’s man Sutton who was so wide open on the 12-yard completion early in the third quarter which led to the Broncos first touchdown.
S John Johnson – Made several good tackles and had the interception.
Third down conversions – The Browns were 9-14 against the Broncos, plus made their only fourth down attempt.
CB Troy Hill – Made several outstanding plays including a tackle on a third-and-nine halfway through Quarter #2 to TE Noah Fant that gained just six yards. Two plays before Johnson’s interception it was Hill who slammed Williams on a screen in the left flats that only netted one yard.