A Look Back – Game #13 – Browns vs. Bengals
Awful, horrible, embarrassing – use whatever adjective you want to describe that game. Horrible offense, bad defense, and little to no contribution on special teams was the name of the game for the Cleveland Browns. I was deeply surprised and saddened by this outcome. Without further ado, let’s review this rotten mess.
Offense: Johnny Manziel passed for only eighty yards and heaved a pair of interceptions into his rookie debut. The Bengals crowded the line of scrimmage early and often, and the Browns’ signal caller succumbed to pressure before he could complete a pass. I know he will bounce bad – frankly, he has to. There are a ton of adjustments that he and Kyle Shanahan have to make before success comes.
Seventeen carries for fifty-three yards for the Browns’ running game? None of the rushers stood out and were very underwhelming. That said, it might have been due to the defenders crowded the line of scrimmage all game long. Perhaps Crowell and/or West could bust a huge gainer with Manziel as their quarterback – but I felt a five-yard dash was an achievement today.
Poor quarterback play leads to bad statistics for wide receivers. Andrew Hawkins and Jim Dray each had huge drops, while Josh Gordon’s thirty-two yard reception was the only impressive passing play for the Browns. I will be under the belief that he can at least be like Brian Hoyer and get many guys involved in the passing game; the only problem is that he has to be accurate for that to happen.
Wow, what a miserable game by the offensive line. Mitchell Schwartz got beat multiple times of the right edge by Carlos Dunlap, while Ryan Seymour invited Geno Atkins into the backfield a few times. Joe Thomas’s streak of mental errors is appalling. The veteran is committing false start and holding infractions at an alarming rate. I am looking forward to Ray Farmer overhauling this group in the offseason.
Defense: Is surrendering 244 rushing yards a good thing for an NFL defense? Despite the facetious question, how can the front four look this badly? They got blown off the football regularly and outside of Desmond Bryant (four tackles and one sack), all defensive linemen were greatly underwhelming. The Bengals took the ball out of Andy Dalton’s hands, and the Browns’ defense could not do anything to stop their opponent.
Two of the best performances by Browns players were Chris Kirksey and Craig Robertson. The duo combined for eighteen tackles and the veteran hauled in a big interception. When the other seven are playing well, this group can be an effective one. On the outside, Barkevious Mingo and Paul Kruger had their moments – but they were far from effective. Kruger has been the only consistent pass rusher all season, the Browns must add a complement or two this offseason.
The injuries to Joe Haden and Justin Gilbert did not help a secondary that was already missing K’Waun Williams. Fortunately, Andy Dalton did not try to find A.J. Green too frequently, and when he did Buster Skrine was draped all over the wide out. Jim Leonhard did not make his signature play, was around the ball from time to time, and got beat a few times. Pretty much sums up the day for this defense – no one could step up and make a play.
Special Teams: Well Garrett Hartley still has not missed a kick in his Cleveland Browns career. The team was so bad; he did not even get an attempt. Spencer Lanning will likely have to take an ice bath tonight; the punter had seven attempts and averaged just less than fifty yards. The coverage units were adequate, but there were way too many of those today.
Coaching: When the Bengals were crowding the line of scrimmage, why didn’t the Browns try something to go downfield? Kyle Shanahan never attempted this; the offense was predictable and horrible. Defensively, they should have been focused on stopping the run. That was not the case and they suffered as a result. Time to flush this mess and move on to Carolina.