A Look Back – Ravens @ Browns – Game #3
Well, that was fun for one week. It’s back to the motto of “same ol’ Browns” as the team goes 0-2 in the division once again and heads into the bye week at 1-2 overall. The team needed one play down the stretch to go their way, and unfortunately, they never got it. Let’s take a look at another loss snatched away from the jaws of victory.
Offense: This loss cannot be placed on the play of Brian Hoyer. The signal caller went nineteen of twenty-five for 290 yards and a touchdown. I can only think of two plays where they were not executed well enough. One was the illegal forward pass, which pushed back the distance of the field goal, which was blocked. The other was the incompletion on third down and seven to ice the game. Hoyer cannot seem to catch a break – hopefully the rest of the team will pick him up in future games.
Both Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell found the end zone and ran well in this game. Neither eclipsed the 100-yard mark, but they combined for just twenty-three attempts on the ground. They will continue to be utilized well this season, and there is no cause for concern at this point. After the bye week, veteran Ben Tate should return from injury. Therefore, the coaching staff will have some difficult decisions to make regarding the running back position.
The wide receivers played exceptionally well for about 99% of this contest. The Taylor Gabriel grab should have been a touchdown, but he fell after the catch and the Browns failed to convert a field goal. Andrew Hawkins could not come up with an easy grab late to seal the win. In a difficult game like the NFL, a play or two could be the difference. Those are two examples of why the Browns, once again, could not win. 290 yard receiving is amazing, but it is worthless if the team loses.
For the third consecutive game, the offensive line came to play on Sunday. They surrendered just one sack (for six yards) and opened up several running lanes for West and Crowell. None of the five upfront appeared to be outmanned and that was something this front office got right this offseason. On the edge, Jordan Cameron had just one grab for twenty-three yards. He was a decoy most of the day, but hopefully he can be more of a focal point in a few weeks – when he is closer to 100% healthy.
Defense: Outside of a tremendous third and fourth down stop during the fourth quarter, this defensive line continues to underwhelm. They made Lorenzo Taliaferro and Justin Forsett look like reliable running backs, and neither actually is. Billy Winn led all linemen with three tackles; proving that most of the Ravens’ plays were made a few yards past the line of scrimmage. The Browns have to determine what is wrong and need to make big changes (and fast).
The linebackers were silenced a majority of the afternoon. Paul Kruger and Craig Robertson each put a hit on Flacco, but not a single sack was recorded. Barkevious Mingo and Jabaal Sheard combined for nine tackles and had some fine stops. The one thing missing was the lack of an impactful play by this unit. It may not seem like much, but that is something critical that could be the difference between a win and a loss.
I don’t know what to make of this secondary; they continue to wilt in the face of pressure. No matter if it’s Joe Haden, Buster Skrine, or Justin Gilbert, they cannot stop opponents from moving the ball through the air. Tashaun Gipson notched his second interception of the season. While he is not dominating all game long, he seems to be at the right place at the right time. Like other parts of the defense, this coaching staff needs to work their magic during the off week to make the secondary more reliable.
Special Teams: One could argue that the field goal unit lost this contest. Billy Cundiff got a field goal blocked, and had another hit the upright. Should he make those and the Ravens’ would have needed a touchdown to tie this contest. Travis Benjamin letting the punt sail over his head late cost the Browns about twenty yards and possibly the game.
Coaching: Offensively, this team continues to put Brian Hoyer in the best possible spot to succeed. I liked the play calls, but the execution was not always there. Defensively, I wish they could have been a little more aggressive in getting pressure on the quarterback. It was not meant to be and the Browns’ fans once again hang their heads heading into the bye week.