Review of Game #4 – Browns @ Chargers
It was good, then bad, then good, then bad for the Cleveland Browns. The offense did their part, but the defense let the team down greatly in the second half. The fans’ hopes were dashed late on a offside penalty – giving the Chargers another shot to win. Let’s review the defeat.
Quarterback – Was he perfect? No, but did he play good enough to earn a victory? Absolutely, and my faith has somewhat been restored in Josh McCown. The veteran spread the ball around nicely to many targets on a consistent basis. He took a bad sack late, but made up for it in the forth quarter. Hopefully he can continue to play this way all season long – he simply needs some help on the other side of the ball. 356 yards is simply nothing to sneeze at.
Running Back – This was easily the best game of the year for both Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell. Each had a couple nice receptions and rushes, while the rookie found the end zone early in the matchup. They had a winning performance, and that should be remembered this contest. Getting over 200 yards total by the duo of backs is a necessity in the NFL. I don’t know if we will witness this consistently, but the potential is a positive sign.
Wide Receiver – Brian Hartline’s early injury definitely shuffled things around for the wide receiving units. As a result, Travis Benjamin, Taylor Gabriel, and Andrew Hawkins were the beneficiaries. Each had some nice catches – including the game-tying two-point conversion. Dwayne Bowe was his usual disappointing self; not notching a single statistic. This group needs at least one to two more guys next year, someone who can perform up to his potential.
Tight End – Jordan Cameron who? Gary Barnidge is playing just as well, if not better than the departed free agent. The tight end made some excellent grabs, including the overturned incompletion that led to a touchdown. I got to say I am surprised to see him have back-to-back stellar games, but am not sad to see it happen. I’d still like to see E.J. Bibbs finally get some playing time over Rob Housler, but that will not happen just yet.
Offensive Line – The unit finally played like a respectable unit. I understand there were some sacks surrendered – but they were not all the fault of the guys upfront. More importantly, the gang paved holes for Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell on running plays. I believe this is what the fans should expect going forward. Sure there were a breakdown or two; but they were competent enough to be a reliable unit in the NFL.
Defensive Line – The rookie duo of Danny Shelton and Xavier Cooper played admirably in this contest. They finally did not allow a rusher of over 100 yards, but did make Danny Woodhead look like a great receiver. I got to admit that Randy Starks looked very slow at times, I am not sure what he can still bring to the table but my concerns grow. Jamie Meder was not great, but not terrible either – he is proving to be a dependable rotational guy.
Linebacker – Karlos Dansby and Chris Kirksey each made a few nice stops in this contest. I was really surprised by the coverage abilities by Dansby – especially at this point in his career. On the outside, the guys were less than impressive. Paul Kruger was a second away from a sack on multiple occasions; while the only time I saw Barkevious Mingo he was chasing a receiver fifty yards down the field. The team has got to take a look at Nate Orchard sooner rather than later, but the rookie has got to earn his opportunity as well.
Secondary – Without the services of Joe Haden and K’Waun Williams, Phillip Rivers feasted on the Browns’ secondary. Pierre Desir and Tramon Williams each surrendered passes consistently and were the demise of the defense. I would have thought this part of the team would be solid as a rock – but I would then be incorrect. Tashaun Gipson left with an injury and Donte Whitner was ineffective in the second half, the safety spots need to reevaluated and soon.
Special Teams: No win or loss here for the Cleveland Browns. Travis Coons and Andy Lee were solid as usual, as the return units were solid in their production as well. Not a whole lot could be said for the special teams, I wish Tramon Williams would not have jumped offside but he did and the Browns lost.
Coaching: Some will blame coaching on the penalties, but Mike Pettine did not tell his guys to commit infractions. Both the offensive and defensive game plans appeared to be what the team needed. Offensively, the Browns executed and did so rather well. Defensively, they stopped the run and tried to put pressure on Rivers. That was not always the case, and the veteran made them pay. Now it’s a 1 – 3 team who is heading to Baltimore.