Cleveland Browns’ fans have a history of over reacting and it showed up again today.
After the Browns’ huge win over the Steelers last week, supporters of the team starting talking about how the team had turned the corner.
The Jacksonville Jaguars reminded everyone today that although the Browns have indeed improved, there is a long way to go, defeating the Browns 24-6.
We have sung the praises of Brian Hoyer after the first four games, but Jags’ coach Gus Bradley decided to see just how good Hoyer is, and put the game on his arm by playing nine men in the box on a regular basis, and stuffing the best things about the Cleveland offense after five games, the running attack.
Kyle Shanahan’s offense gained just 69 yards on 30 carries, an average of just over two yards a crack, and that put the entire onus on moving the ball on Hoyer’s right arm. And he had a bad day.
Meanwhile, the weakness on the Cleveland defense also killed them, the inability to stop the run. The Jaguars had one of the worst running games in the NFL coming into the game, but they ran for 174 yards today.
Once again, we will reiterate. If you can’t run the ball, and you can’t stop the run, it is difficult to win in the National Football League.
And add in three turnovers, two by Hoyer (fumble being hit while throwing, and an interception), and a horrible decision to try to catch a punt inside the five yard line by Jordan Poyer, and it became a recipe for defeat.
Also, to be sure, other teams will copy this formula to stop the Cleveland running game, and it is up to Shanahan to devise a counter for what Jacksonville did to his offense.
It certainly didn’t help that Hoyer was inaccurate either. He completed just 16 of 41 throws for 215 yards, and for the first time this year, he couldn’t guide the team into the end zone.
The best way to combat the Jags’ philosophy is to throw on first down with so many players near the line of scrimmage, but Hoyer couldn’t hit on some short throws early, and add in some drops by receivers as well, and they seemed to be in second and third and long all day, in direct contrast with the season’s first five contests.
Many will point to Mike Pettine’s gamble late in the first half with Cleveland leading 6-0, to go for it on fourth down from the Jacksonville 24-yard line with two minutes to go. They failed and the momentum switched. The Jaguars suddenly had hope.
The defense tried its best to keep the Browns in the game with three interceptions of rookie QB Blake Bortles, two by Tashaun Gipson and another by Buster Skrine in the red zone.
Bortles threw for just 159 yards on the day, but once again the defense couldn’t contain the ground game and that made it is easier for Bortles, who hurt the Browns in the second half with some read option plays.
Keep in mind, even with all of the problems Cleveland had today, this was very much a game until Poyer dropped the punt with a little over six minutes to go. It was a 10-6 game at that point.
Pettine and GM Ray Farmer simply have to shore up the punt returner spot, as it has been a problem all year.
With the next two games against losing teams and at home, here’s hoping today’s defeat was a wake up call that the Browns aren’t as good as they thought they were.
The coaching staff should be held accountable too, they seemed to coach like the Jaguars had no chance to win, and it came back to bite them.
Playoff teams would have found a way to win this game, it just shows the Browns aren’t there quite yet.