Review of Browns vs. Texans – Game #10
I believe this one falls into the “same ol’ Browns” category, have a huge, winnable game at home – only to lay a giant egg. If it were not for a questionable personal foul on J.J. Watt, this contest would have been a shutout. Pretty much every aspect was pitiful for the Browns, and an embarrassment from their recent performance. Should Browns fans have been surprised? Not entirely, but let’s review the horrible outcome…
Offense: It’s a good thing that the Browns didn’t sign a wide out named broad side of a barn, because Brian Hoyer would have not been able to hit him. The quarterback easily had his worst game of the season, completing only twenty of his fifty tosses including an interception. Several throws were nowhere near an intended target. It was rather disappointing for the home crowd, and I expect the veteran to play better – but the calls for Manziel were deafening.
The fumble by Isaiah Crowell was the play of the game for the visitors. Tied at seven, the Browns were in the red zone ready to take the lead. The turnover by the home team led to a score by the guests, who never looked back. The unit compiled just fifty-eight yards on the ground, but veteran Ben Tate had only two carries for negative nine yards (not a misprint). The run game must get better if the team wants a shot at the playoffs.
Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel put up respectable numbers on a combined twenty-six targets. Hauling in a total of eleven grabs for 189 yards and a score is not terrible, but when the quarterback is throwing it fifty times – better production is expected. Both targets and Miles Austin had some drops, something unaccustomed to this unit. I hope they do not have issues in the cold weather, or this could be a rough remaining six contests.
As expected, the guys upfront struggled in all facets of blocking. J.J. Watt dictated the play calling, and Mitchell Schwartz had trouble blocking the defensive end. The result was a pair of sacks allowed and an ineffective running attack. The offensive line in this contest beyond disappointed me – they took a giant step back from last Thursday. We shall see what goes down next week, but this was a pathetic performance.
Defense: No Phil Taylor, no Armonty Bryant, and no John Hughes – and it showed. The Browns allowed some dude named Blue to run for 156 yards on thirty-six carries. They were lucky Arian Foster did not play, or he could have eclipsed 200 yards on the ground. I believe the attrition has finally caught up to this part of the team. The Browns have been getting by all year long, and they will struggle from here on out with all these injuries.
The injury to veteran Karlos Dansby was a killer for the linebacking corps. They had issues covering and stopping the opponent running the football, after the veteran left the contest. I really like Chris Kirksey and Craig Robertson but am not sure they are ready to both play full-time. Barkevious Mingo was surprisingly the best outside linebacker (statistically) for the Browns. He had seven stops and was there on a few big plays. Paul Kruger nearly had an interception, but that was the story for the defense – just close enough but could not make the big play.
Where was the secondary? Joe Haden and Buster Skrine made Andre Johnson look like he was 23 years old again – providing cushion and room to easily catch Ryan Mallet’s passes. I was embarrassed to see the Tom Brady backup look good in this contest, and the secondary did not do anything to make it hard on him. All goodwill that was give to this group has now been taken away. Back to the drawing board, before they play an actual good quarterback in Matt Ryan next week.
Special Teams: A missed thirty-eight yarder and a near fumble in a kickoff return was the story for the Browns’ special teams. They did nothing to stand out, and I hope they can get much better. The unit has a giant task next week, but this game was a head-dropper.
Coaching: For the first time all season, I was surprised the Browns strayed from the running game. They put the ball in Brian Hoyer’s hands, and it failed them miserably. Could they have won the game by sticking to the run? I doubt it, but would have liked their chances a bit more. It was the most disappointing game by the Browns since the Jaguars clunker – and proof they are far from a good team.