What were you expecting?
The New England Patriots are one of the NFL’s best teams and their quarterback, future Hall of Famer Tom Brady was just returning from a four game suspension that at best was questionable, and in reality was probably unjust.
As plucky as the young Browns have been this season, this didn’t appear to be a game they would be able to stay in throughout the contest.
They didn’t disappoint, as Hue Jackson’s squad was rolled by the Patriots, 33-13 at First Energy Stadium.
On the injury front, the news wasn’t much better as QB Cody Kessler suffered a rib/chest injury in the second quarter and his backup, Charlie Whitehurst, left with a knee problem in the fourth quarter.
So the question is, who will be behind center next Sunday against Tennessee?
Here are the positives, negatives, and officiating notes from this game.
Positives. The only good thing that came from this game was the continuing good job the Cleveland defense did against the run. New England gained just 98 yards on 35 carries, an average of 2.8 per attempt.
After last week’s game vs. Washington where the opponent had great success on the ground, it was good to see the Browns’ revert back to the way they’ve played the rest of the year.
Also, before he left the game, Kessler did hit 5 of 8 throws (one drop, one throw away) for 62 yards, and did get the offense in the end zone with an 11 yard TD toss to Andrew Hawkins.
Hopefully, he can go again next week.
Rookie TE Connor Hamlett caught his first NFL TD pass in the fourth quarter.
Negatives. For all the success Ray Horton’s defense has had against the running game, they are getting killed through the air, particularly covering tight ends.
Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett combined for 11 receptions and 176 yards, and the latter caught three TD passes.
Jordan Reed had similar success against Cleveland a week ago.
Without any pressure being put on opposing quarterbacks, the secondary is going to have issues, and the Browns had just one sack again today.
After dominating the league during the first four weeks of the season running the ball, Isaiah Crowell couldn’t get anything going today. He gained just 22 yards on 13 carries.
In total, the Browns had just 27 yards rushing on 22 attempts.
Whitehurst struggled until the fourth quarter, and if you thought Kessler never threw downfield, he looked like Daryle Lamonica (look it up) compared to Whitehurst’s dinking and dunking.
If he is going to play that way, is there any downside to playing Kevin Hogan if Kessler is unable to play next week?
The offensive line had a dreadful day. The Browns couldn’t run and the passers ran for their lives all day.
Officiating. Again, not much to complain about when you lose by 20 points, but the officials called forward progress on a play involving Julian Edelman in the first half when Joe Haden’s hit caused a fumble.
And there was a suspicious pass interference call on Christian Kirksey in the third quarter when he batted away a pass. By the way, Kirksey had 16 tackles on the day.
So, it’s back on the road next Sunday, this time against Tennessee.
Who will play quarterback for the Browns? Hopefully, Kessler is able to go, but if not, we are sure it will be debated ad nauseum this week on talk radio.