Starting Osweiler The Least Risky Move

The big news of the week in Cleveland seems to be that Hue Jackson named Brock Osweiler to be the starting quarterback in the Browns’ first pre-season game Thursday night against the Saints.

First, it’s a pre-season game, and certainly Jackson can change his mind between now and September 10th when the Browns and Steelers get together.

Second, it seems that the coaching staff and front office are showing everyone they are pumping the brakes on DeShone Kizer.

We have been critical of Osweiler in the past, and have pointed out on a few occasions that Cody Kessler had more games with a passer rating of over 100 in his rookie season than Osweiler has had in his career.

However, it appears that Kessler hasn’t progressed as the coaching staff hoped, still dinking and dunking and reticent to throw the ball downfield.

And we have been consistent in saying the Browns need to resist the temptation to throw Kizer to the wolves before he is ready.

Cleveland has done that before with other young quarterbacks and it hasn’t worked.  Didn’t someone say those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it?

Complicating things for some fans as well as those in the media is that the Browns went 1-15 a year ago.  They have to start winning some football games, not for the fans, but to start building a winning atmosphere in the locker room.

It may be right now, that Osweiler gives the team the best chance to put up some “W’s”

After all, his supporters will point out the former Bronco and Texan has a 13-8 record as a starter.

We would counter that argument that the former Arizona State standout tooks snaps for two teams that have incredible defenses.

It is a fact that he is the only QB on the roster who has started and won an NFL game.

So, Osweiler will get a chance to resurrect his career starting Thursday night.  And why not, the coaching staff has to know what they have in Kessler and they don’t want to rush Kizer, so why not see if Osweiler can get the job done.

Remember, he was a throw in last spring in a trade for a second round draft pick. When the Browns announced the trade, the pick was mentioned first.

The point is, what does Jackson have to lose?  Osweiler played the best in Friday night’s scrimmage, and he has starting experience.

If he looks good throughout the preseason, he will claim the job against Pittsburgh in the season opener.

That doesn’t mean we would rule out Kizer, we just wouldn’t force him into the job.  If he is clearly the best QB in practice and the games, then he should start.

But he shouldn’t start because he might be the franchise quarterback in a few years, or because he’s big, has a strong arm, and is mobile.  Let him observe, get used to the speed of the game, and show something when he gets his opportunity.

Remember, he was a second round pick, so if the Browns would get the first pick in next year’s draft, they can still take Sam Darnold of USC or however the top college QB is after this upcoming season.

So, Jackson is taking the least risk is seeing what Osweiler can do.  It doesn’t mean he will open the year as the starter, but right now, it’s his job to lose.

JD

Shocking Trade A Positive For Browns Front Office

The front office of the Cleveland Browns continues to do business in an unorthodox way, which, of course, is why they can polarizing among both the national and local media.

They aren’t “football guys”, we know that, and the Browns went 1-15 last year, so it’s hard to put any trust in them, but we feel they are laying the groundwork for the future.

That should have been done in 1999 when Cleveland came back into the NFL, and it could have been done several times and several regimes since, but instead the franchise went for quick fixes, and have just two winning seasons and one playoff spot in 17 seasons.

The most surprising and talked about move was the trade with the Houston Texans, involving QB Brock Osweiler.

The first reaction was this is who the Browns want to move forward at the quarterback?  The guy benched by the Texans before his first season ended after inking a deal paying him $18 million?

Instead as more details came out, Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta simply gave up some salary cap space, of which the Browns have plenty, to get a 2018 second round draft pick, which Houston had to throw in the deal for Cleveland to take Osweiler.

The old guard didn’t understand the move, Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian blasted the move hours after it happened.

A day later, when Terrelle Pryor signed with the Redskins, the Browns were hammered for giving away cap space instead of reaching an agreement with the wide receiver.

Now we hear fans wondering why the Browns just don’t give Osweiler a shot at the job in training camp.

First, Cleveland still has almost $70-80 million (depending on the source) in salary cap space, and let’s face it, there aren’t enough quality free agents remaining to spend that kind of money this off-season.

So, the money isn’t an issue.

And the Browns get to add to their cadre of high draft picks they have accumulated over the next two drafts.  Obviously, if you are afraid of success in drafting, then having more picks gives you a better chance to get good players.

As for Osweiler, his season last year was a nightmare, and although he get a lot of credit for winning with Denver in 2015, there are plenty of questions about him.

He’s made 22 career NFL starts and has two games with a passer rating of over 100.0.  Before you challenge us, we know that passer rating isn’t the end all in evaluating quarterbacks.

By contrast, Browns’ rookie QB, Cody Kessler, has three games with a rating higher than 100.0 last season.  If you complete a good percentage of throws and avoid interceptions, you will have a good rating.

Remember also that the Texans went to the playoffs last year, so obviously Bill O’Brien felt strongly that Tom Savage gave his team a better chance to win.

Meanwhile, here is a memo to all media people in Cleveland…We are pretty sure the Browns know they need a quarterback, and they will get one this off-season, whether it is drafting one early or getting one in a trade (Jimmy Garoppolo).

So, please stop with the idea the front office hasn’t done a good job because they haven’t addressing the “most important position in professional sports”!

Relax, they know it’s a problem.  They will take care of it.

Until then, can we get off the notion that Brown, DePodesta, and the analytical people don’t know what they are doing?

JD

The Media & The Browns’ QB

It is fun to observe the media, both print and broadcast, cover the Cleveland Browns.  After every game, a segment of them, usually the same guys, seem outraged by the loss that occurred.

We don’t know what they were expecting.  Most people figured a two or three win season at best for the brown and orange, so losses shouldn’t be a surprise.

It is particularly funny to watch how the people who cover and comment on the Browns treat the quarterback situation, particularly this season.

Throughout training camp, it was clear that Hue Jackson was going to start Robert Griffin III unless he was awful.  He wasn’t, although he didn’t play too much in the pre-season, so we got the nod in the opener against the Eagles.

Griffin went 12 of 26 for 190 yards and an interception in a game the Browns trailed 13-10 in the third quarter before a bad snap which turned into a safety changed the momentum.

The former Heisman Trophy winner suffered a broken shoulder late in the 4th quarter, and based on that the media turned on him, saying it is clear that he shouldn’t be the starter and it was tough to find a scenario where RGIII would be back on the Browns’ roster in 2017.

Next came many in the media’s choice, good guy, good teammate Josh McCown, who started in week two vs. the Ravens.

The Browns had a 20-0 first quarter lead, but scored no more points after and McCown threw a late interception (after a terrible unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Terrelle Pryor).

And he broke his collarbone in the game.  In a nutshell, he was what we’ve come to expect about Josh McCown.

But he was now out and rookie Cody Kessler took the helm.  The people covering the team were sounding a death knell on the fate of the Browns.

Their fears were unwarranted. After a shaky first series, Kessler played well (21 of 33 for 244 yards) and the Browns had a chance to win in regulation, but new kicker Cody Parkey missed a field goal.

Kessler was good again the following week (28 of 40, 223 yards, a TD and a pick) and Cleveland was in the game until some 4th quarter turnovers caused a 31-20 defeat.

Now, everyone wanted to see Kessler the rest of the season.  Since the team was 0-4, he was the future.  Why not put him out there?

Except he got hurt against the Patriots after leading the Browns to a touchdown.

He returned to start the following week vs. Tennessee throwing for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, and was 9 of 11 against Cincinnati before suffering a concussion.

However, Kessler was reluctant to throw deep and his lack of arm strength had the scribes starting to turn against him.

When Hue Jackson benched him in the second half of the Thursday night game vs. Baltimore, many in the media started to sour on Kessler.

Unfortunately, McCown was dreadful in that game, and Kessler got another concussion in the next game against the Steelers.

That left McCown to play last Sunday and the media started thinking the best thing for the Browns might be to trot out Robert Griffin III for the rest of the year since he’s now recovered from his injury.

Their thinking is why not find out what you have in the former Redskin QB, who by the way, took his team to the playoffs as a rookie.

That’s what they should’ve been thinking from day one.  Griffin is still just 26 years old, so why not let him show if he can still play in the NFL, and can he make plays.

It shouldn’t have any effect on whether or not Cleveland should draft a quarterback next spring.

The point is maybe we shouldn’t pay any attention to what the people who follow the Browns think about the QB position.  They don’t seem to know anymore than anyone else about the position.

JD

 

 

The Curious Decision Of Hue Jackson.

The Cleveland Browns can do one thing…they can make you scratch your head because they will consistently do something that makes absolutely no sense.

For example, they drafted a ton of wide receivers last April, yet continue to keep veteran Andrew Hawkins on the roster and play him more than the rookies.

However, tonight might just be the ultimate.

Cleveland was actually leading at halftime tonight, 7-6.  They scored on a 25-yard pass from Cody Kessler to another rookie, TE Seth DeValve.

Kessler was dinking and dunking, as he normally does, but was efficient, hitting 11 of 18 passes for 91 yards, a passer rating of 92, and did not turn the ball over.

After the Browns got the second half kickoff and went three and out, and the Ravens scored a touchdown to take a 13-7 lead, Hue Jackson made perhaps the most puzzling decision of the year, replacing Kessler with mediocre veteran Josh McCown.

The choice of some fans and many in the media, because he’s a hard worker and good guy (read:  good interview), McCown may have played the most dreadful half of football by any Browns’ quarterback in recent memory.

That’s saying a lot.

McCown’s first four series went interception, fumble (he recovered) and punt, interception, and a lost fumble.

He went 6 for 13 for 59 yards and the two picks.

Quite frankly, he should be released after the performance, because there is absolutely no need for him to take another snap for the Cleveland Browns.

The decision is more puzzling because Kessler was Jackson’s pick.  Remember, “trust me on this one”.

We have said this before, but we don’t know if Kessler will ever lead this team or any team to the playoffs, and he probably will never be considered one of the better passers in the NFL.

So, we are certainly not one of those who think Kessler is some sort of franchise savior for the Cleveland Browns.

But it makes no sense at all, period, to play a 38 year old mediocre, mistake prone quarterback on a football team that is now 0-10 for the season.

As for the final score, yes, the defense gave up over 25 points again, for the tenth straight game.  They got gassed after being on the field again for almost 40 minutes, particularly in the second half, when McCown produced more turnovers than any pastry chef you can name.

Watching the game, it appeared all of the life was sucked out of the Browns after McCown’s first interception.

And while Jackson yearns for his passer to throw deep, the veteran’s first deep throw was also picked off.

Kessler has turned the ball over once this season.  McCown turned it over four times in a half.

Defensively, Jamie Collins was all over the field in the first half, with nine tackles and a sack.  Demario Davis also had a sack.

Christian Kirksey played another strong game with 13 tackles, and Joe Haden and Breian Boddy-Calhoun both recorded interceptions.

The defense also held the Ravens to under four yards per carry (3.5).

However, the talk tomorrow will be about the curious quarterback decision.  What does Jackson do going forward?  Logic and the squad’s record say it should be Kessler, because he is a rookie.

On the other hand, Robert Griffin III was warming up on the field prior to the game.  Does Jackson go back to him?  Quite frankly, we wouldn’t mind that.  Why not see if Griffin can play?

After all, he only had one game to show what he can do.

No matter what explanation Jackson makes, he cannot convince us that putting McCown in the game improved the Browns chances of winning.

We aren’t saying we’ve soured on the head coach, but it does make us wonder what the ultimate goal is.  It should be developing the young players.  Tonight, it wasn’t.

JD

Browns Show Nothing To Grow On Today

At the beginning of this season, we said we would not measure this year’s edition of the Cleveland Browns by their win-loss record.  We knew that wasn’t going to be good.

Rather, we said the season wouldn’t be a abject failure is the Browns showed progress from week to week, particularly the young players, of which there are a bunch.

We understand the Dallas Cowboys are one of the best teams in the NFL this year, and they have perhaps the best offensive line in the league, and a dominant running game, led by former Ohio State standout Ezekiel Elliott.

Expecting a win today would have been ludicrous.  However, the Browns were overwhelmed in every phase of football today.

And we aren’t seeing progress.

Here is a short positive, lengthy negative review of today’s 35-10 loss, which dropped the Browns’ record to 0-9.  And today’s referee was Jeff Tripplette, which pretty much speaks for itself.

Positives.  Look, Cody Kessler may never make a Pro Bowl, heck, he might only be a starter for this season, but that doesn’t mean he can be considered a questionable draft pick anymore.

Kessler connected on 19 of his 27 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown, and generally moved the football very well, at least in the first half when it was kind of a game.

He connected with Isaiah Crowell for a 44 yard gain on the opening drive, which set the Browns up for a field goal.

Kessler should be the starter the rest of the way unless there is an injury, or the coaching staff wants to see what Robert Griffin III can do when he is healthy.

Terrelle Pryor caught the TD pass, and four other passes.  He has become the guy that opposing defenses want to stop on the Browns.

Corey Coleman returned to the field and snagged three passes for 41 yards.  He should give Kessler another weapon when the Browns have the football.

Negatives.  The Cleveland defense continues to resemble a sieve.  Dallas controlled the ball for 40 minutes, Ray Horton’s crew had no answer for the visitor’s attack.

However, there are things defensively that seem to be repeating from week to week, and that should concern Hue Jackson and the front office.

Tight ends continue to plague this team and have all season.  We were critical last year that then defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil didn’t change anything, especially against the run.  We have the same thought about Horton.

Three plays where the defense lined up in the neutral zone?  Xavier Cooper should lose playing time for doing this twice in the same game.  That’s a mental error.

The secondary is general continues to be horrendous.  Opposing receivers are wide open way too often.

We understand you can’t play all rookies, but some of the veterans who do play simply aren’t getting it done.

We’ve talked ad nauseum about Tramon Williams, but it wouldn’t bother us if OL Alvin Bailey didn’t play anymore, as we fear for Kessler’s safety.

We have two problems with Jackson’s play calling today.  First, he abandoned the run too early again.  The Browns have to continue to try to run, if only to shorten games.

In the first half, with a 3rd and 2 deep in Dallas territory, Jackson went for the end zone and the pass to Pryor was incomplete.  He then tried a field goal and Cody Parkey’s attempt hit the upright.

The pass to the end zone should have only been called if you were going to go for it on fourth down.  Otherwise, the correct play is move the chains and keep the drive alive.

Now, the Browns have a short week, playing Baltimore on Thursday night.

For the first time this season, this young football team looked dejected, defeated.  Jackson has to get that attitude adjusted in a couple of days.

Otherwise a nationwide audience will witness another butt kicking.

JD

Another Week, More Big Plays Killed The Browns

When the NFL season began this year, we talked about not judging the Cleveland Browns based on wins and losses, but rather, on the progress being shown weekly by the team.

One thing Hue Jackson’s crew is not improving on is giving up the big play on defense.  Three of Cincinnati’s four touchdowns today came via this method in a 31-17 loss in the Queen City to drop Cleveland to 0-7 on the season.

Last week, Tennessee had four plays of forty yards or more, today the Bengals scored on plays of 44, 48, and 74 yards.  If the Browns want to get in the win column at some point this season, Ray Horton’s defense has to prevent big plays.

To be fair, without Joe Haden out there (groin injury), there aren’t any solid experienced plays on that side of the ball.  We can’t believe there is no one better than Tramon Williams on the waiver wire.

At least on offense, Jackson has Joe Thomas, John Greco, and Gary Barnidge on the field to help the youngsters.

And yes, we know we said we go young after last season.

So, here are the positives, negatives, and officiating gaffes from this week’s game.

Positives.  The Browns have had problems the last two weeks running the ball, but they accumulated 180 yards on the ground today, led by an unlikely source.

Jackson must have found something in the Cincy defensive scheme showing they were susceptible to the read option, because the Browns unleashed reserve QB Kevin Hogan with it, and he ran for 104 yards on seven attempts, including a 28-yard touchdown run.

Isaiah Crowell also had a solid day with 63 yards on 12 carries.

Barnidge had a solid day as the outlet receiver, making 6 catches for 66 yards.

Before he left with a concussion, Cody Kessler played like we’ve come to expect him to play, hitting 9 of 11 throws for 82 yards.

On defense, Emmanuel Ogbah had his best game as a pro, recording two sacks.  Christian Kirksey and Carl Nassib combined for a third sack of Andy Dalton.

The Browns were also penalized just five times today.

Negatives. Giving up 559 yards in an NFL game may be the biggest negative you can come up with.  The defense gave up big play after big play.

Ibraheim Campbell took a horrific angle on Jeremy Hill’s 74 yard TD run, turning an 8 or 9 yard game into a touchdown.

And those two aren’t even the worst of it.

With 0:05 left on the clock in the first half, the Browns trailed 14-10 and were poised to get the second half kickoff.

That’s when Dalton hit A.J. Green for a 48 yard “Hail Mary” pass and suddenly the Browns were down 11.

There had to be five or six Browns around Green, yet no one could knock the pass down.  Green tipped it to himself for the score.

Officiating.   Ed Hochuli’s crew appeared to miss an offsides by Cincinnati with the play clock running down, calling a delay of game instead, when it appeared the Bengal defender was in the neutral zone when the play clock hit zero.

They also missed what appeared to be a helmet to helmet hit on Kessler on the play he suffered a concussion.

At least the schedule starts to see some home games for Jackson and his team, and it starts next week with a contest with the Jets, which should be a game the Browns can win.

But who will be the quarterback?  Can Kessler recover enough to play next week?  Or will it be Hogan in his first NFL start?  Or will veteran Josh McCown go back out there?

It’s always a QB question in Cleveland.

JD

Allowing The Big Play Kills Browns Today

It is very difficult to maintain optimism regarding an 0-6 NFL team.

Going into the season, we preached that the Cleveland Browns were not going to be good this season, in fact, we figured a 2-14 or 3-13 record would be about what the final record would be.

That doesn’t mean it’s fun to watch the games and see the young players make mistakes that cost the Browns every week.  Hue Jackson will tell us that it is his job to coach them up, but we all know he’s got to be shaking his head when watching the film.

Today, the final score wasn’t indicative of the closeness of the game.  The defense allowed too many big play, including the very first one, a 41-yard run by Titans’ QB Marcus Mariota.  But the young Browns kept fighting to the end, but still wound up on the short end of a 28-26 score.

Here are the positives, negatives, and officiating comments from today’s contest.

Positives.  Much was made of Tennessee’s ground game coming into the week, but outside of that first run by Mariota, the Browns controlled DeMarco Murray, who averaged just over 3 yards a carry.

After the initial play, Cleveland allowed just 96 rushing yards on 30 attempts.

Cody Kessler played well too, completing 26 of 41 passes for his first NFL 300 yard passing day (336 yards) and two touchdown throws, both to Terrelle Pryor.

Pryor was productive too, grabbing nine receptions for 75 yards.  Kessler has yet to hit him on a deep throw though.

And after being belittled on a pre-game show earlier in the day for no reason, Danny Shelton had his first NFL sack and five tackles.  The nose tackle’s play is a big reason for the success against the run for the Browns for most of this season.

Negatives.  If we were Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta, we would be scouring the waiver wire for cornerbacks.

Without Joe Haden today, Titans’ WR Kendall Wright blistered the secondary for eight catches and 133 yards.  All in all, Tennessee had three plays of over 40 yards.

The offensive line continues to struggle.  The Browns couldn’t run the ball (15 attempts, 40 yards) and Kessler was sacked six times.

Austin Pasztor is not a tackle, and should be playing guard, and Alvin Bailey shouldn’t be playing at all.  Perhaps Jackson should try newcomer Jonathan Cooper and rookie Shon Coleman starting next week, because the Browns need to run the football much better than they have the last two weeks.

Ricardo Louis had five grabs for 65 yards, but dropped at least two passes that we could count.  The rookie’s hands were questionable on draft day, and he needed to help out his QB by making some plays today.

Cleveland was just 3 for 14 on third down conversions and seemed to be equally bad on first down, shooting themselves in the foot with negative plays and/or penalties on first down, putting Kessler in a lot of bad positions.

That’s not helping the kid’s progress.

Officiating.  Nothing stands out here.  The worst call might have gone the Browns’ way as they flagged the Titans for pass interference on a long pass to Duke Johnson, where we though the contact was minimal.

Now the road show for the Browns take them to Cincinnati to play the struggling Bengals, the team Jackson was offensive coordinator for a year ago.

The points of emphasis this week should be the offensive line/running back and the secondary.  Those positions were the biggest disappointments we can take away from this week six loss.

JD

Not Much Good To Take Away From Browns’ Beating Today.

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.

JD

Late Mistakes Cost Young Browns

Young football teams tend to make mistakes.  This was never more evident than the Cleveland Browns’ 31-20 loss to Washington this afternoon.

Hue Jackson’s crew got off to a poor start, trailing 14-0 early, before rallying and actually carried a 20-17 lead into the fourth quarter.

However, the young Browns turned the ball over three times at the end of the game, two on fumbles and an interception by Cody Kessler, and Cleveland fell to 0-4 on the season.

One reminder.  They’ve played three of those four games on the road.

One of the dangers of having so many young players is there are no veterans to teach the younger guys how to close out games.  The Browns have had a chance to win the last three contests, but are still winless.

It will be up to the coaching staff to get these guys to eliminate the errors costing them in the win column.

Here are this week’s positives and negatives, with a new category–bad officiating.

Positives.  The Browns came into the game in the top five in rushing and showed why today.  They had 163 yards on the ground, with another 100 yard game by Isaiah Crowell (15 rushes, 112 yards).  They probably should have had more than 28 attempts.

Cody Parkey rebounded from his debut and made two field goals including a 51-yarder.

Another Cody, Kessler, played well too.  He completed 28 of 40 throws for 223 yards, and helped the offense convert 8 of 12 third downs.  As long as he plays like this, there is no reason to play either Josh McCown or even Robert Griffin III for that matter.

And the offensive line did a good job with John Greco going back to guard and using Austin Reiter at center.

Defensively, Jamar Taylor continued to show well, getting an interception for the second straight week.  And the newest Brown, Cam Johnson had two sacks.

Negatives.  For the first time this season, the defense couldn’t stop the run, allowing 145 yards, at an average of 5.6 per rush.

The defensive line had a poor game and Danny Shelton took a step back with just three assists.

And even though Cleveland had three sacks, for most of the game they couldn’t put pressure on Washington QB Kirk Cousins.  Of course, they didn’t have a lot of good pass rushing situations.

Ray Horton’s unit also had no answer for TE Jordan Reed, which isn’t good news considering New England’s Rob Gronkowski is up next week.

Today’s horrible officiating.  The NFL needs to change the pass interference call.

First, they should be no call on any under thrown ball, because the bad throw is causing the contact.  That was the case on the 50 YARD PENALTY against Jordan Poyer in the first quarter.

Another bad PI call came against Joe Haden in the fourth quarter.  Both Haden and the receiver were bumping each other, but Haden drew the flag.  A no call would have been correct there.

And lastly, Duke Johnson’s fumble in the fourth quarter appeared to be recovered by…Duke Johnson.  The official ruled Washington football.

Of course, Jeff Triplette’s crew is one of the leagues worst, so what can you expect.

Our point is the Browns are inexperienced as it is, and can’t afford to have bad calls go against them as well.

So, the Browns come home next week to take on the mighty New England Patriots.  It should be another good measuring stick for the young Browns.

Yes, they are 0-4.  However, many teams at 1-3 and stagnant would love to trade places with Hue Jackson’s group.

JD

Browns Lose Again, But Continue to Show Improvement.

Most Browns’ fans probably resigned themselves to a blowout today, having to watch Cody Kessler in his first start as an NFL quarterback.

The news didn’t get any better later in the week with injuries to CB Joe Haden and K Patrick Murray, more on the latter later.

Instead, the Browns took the Miami Dolphins to overtime, losing 30-24 to drop to 0-3, but also showing the improvement we wanted to see week to week.

We haven’t changed our tune about judging Hue Jackson’s team based on the improvement of the team week to week, so we can’t be too upset about the defeat.

Also, two more weaknesses have shown themselves that must be addressed, so we will see if Jackson and his staff take care of them before next Sunday’s game at Washington.

Positives.  What more can you say about Terrelle Pryor?  He is showing he can be a force on offense.  He caught eight passes for 144 yards, ran for 21 more, and completed 3 of 5 passes for 35 yards.

And he wasn’t happy with the outcome of the game.  You have to wonder what was stopping the previous coaching staff was looking at with this guy.

You would have to assume the Dolphins came into the game hoping Kessler would have to beat them, but the Browns ran the ball very well again, getting 169 yards on the ground, an average of 5.3 yards per carry.  Isaiah Crowell had 79 yards and Duke Johnson pitched in with 69 more.

One of the rookie wide receivers emerged, but it was not Rashard Higgins, rather it was Ricardo Louis, who caught three throws for 40 yards.

And Kessler acquitted himself well too.  He completed 21 of 33 for 244 yards, and appeared more comfortable as the game went on.  He earned another start in our opinion.

Defensively, did anyone think Briean Boddy-Calhoun would contribute this season?  The rookie out of Minnesota had a pick six to give Cleveland a 10-7 lead in the first half.

Jamar Taylor, a former Dolphin, also picked off Ryan Tannehill.

And Corey Lemonier, picked up on waivers from San Francisco after the last preseason game, almost won the contest for the Browns with a strip sack/fumble recovery with under a minute to go.

Christian Kirksey had nine tackles and Danny Shelton played well again too.

Miami had only 115 rushing yards on the day, a major improvement from what teams did to the Browns in 2016.

Negatives.  The special teams continue not to be special, and eventually, doesn’t Chris Tabor have to answer for that.  Corey Parkey missed three field goals, including a 46 yarder that could have won the game.

You miss three in one game?  You will find your name on the waiver wire.  Expect a new kicker next week.

And Britton Colquitt’s punt in overtime was right down the middle allowing a decent return.  The ball had to be kicked away from Jarvis Landry.

Austin Pasztor should have shown the coaching staff that he is not a tackle.  If he wasn’t being flagged for a false start, he was getting caught holding.  Hard to think Spencer Drango or Shon Coleman can’t do a better job.

Kessler still needs to work on getting rid of the football.  He turned it over in on the first possession because he held on to the pigskin too long, and did it a few more times as the game went on.

The last problem was choosing to kick off at the start of overtime.  The defense did hold, but it resulted in poor field position after Miami punted.

Taking the ball would have given Cleveland the ball probably at their own 25.

Next time, take the ball coach.

Hopefully, Haden and Carl Nassib will be back in action next week against Washington.  That would help the defense.

And the Browns need to keep running the football, that will help Kessler feel more comfortable.

Again, we saw this team getting better, and that’s what Jackson should be proud of.  This team has some football players who may be able to contribute weekly.  That’s also something positive.

JD