Slam, back to reality for the Cleveland Browns. Clearly the talk about arriving in addition to a visit by Snoop Dogg at practice turned out to be distractions. It reared its ugly head in the 38-14 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“That was disappointing. Obviously, give [Los Angeles] a lot of credit. Came in here, and they played well,” head coach Hue Jackson said. “We did not play as well. I take full responsibility for that. We are going to get back to practice and get back to meetings. We are going to watch the tape tomorrow, and we are going to get better. That is what we are going to do.”
Believe it or not there is something to like following this game. What is it? Well here is the week six edition of the Cleveland Browns, the good, bad and ugly.
Punter Britton Colquitt is the only real good thing in the game for the Browns. Colquitt pinned the Chargers back inside their own 20-yard line on five of his six punts. Special teams have been a problem in 2018. Colquitt would earn the only game ball on this day if I handed them out.
Honoring Joe Thomas’ 10,363 Consecutive Snaps Streak:
The number 10,363 is now enshrined the Browns Ring of Honor. The number represents the consecutive number of snaps retired left tackle Joe Thomas played before missing a play. It’s the first honor for the franchise since returning to the NFL in 1999.
Missed False Start Penalties by Chargers Left Tackle Russell Okung:
Jackson and the dawg pound should be upset at the officiating crew for one obvious missed call. In the second quarter, Chargers left tackle Russell Okung clearly moves before the snap of the football. No flag is thrown. The play goes through and results in a touchdown at an 18-point deficit for Cleveland at 21-3. You didn’t need to go to the replay to clearly see the call was missed.
“Yep. Yep. Missed it. Yeah, I was told they missed it,” Jackson said. “Was very honest on my side. It sure wasn’t the guy on the other side. It was definitely the guy on my side. That was [a false start].”
“It was one of those plays where you have to keep playing even though sometimes the referees miss things,” Larry Ogunjobi said. “You still have to finish the play because if you do finish the play and they do not score then those are points off the board. If you wait on the ref to make a call for you and they end of completing the ball and they score, well, that is it. They kept points on the board. It was an obvious call to a lot of people, but they missed it. It was just one of those things.”
On the Chargers first scoring drive, it appeared that Okung started early as well. It was not as obvious as the second quarter miscue by the officials, but it should have also been a penalty. Those missed calls did not cost the Browns the game. However, it does not give the league a good look. We all know how important a good image is for the National Football League.
The number one overall pick Baker Mayfield looked like a rookie quarterback. Mayfield finished under 50 percent in completion percentage. In addition he threw some very bad passes that resulted in interceptions. Mayfield did suffer an ankle injury when he stepped on the first down marker in the first quarter. He limped through the first half, but it’s not an excuse for a tough day on the job.
“That is just how it works. You are not always going to have a perfect day,” Mayfield said. “You are not always going to have the day that you envision. It just comes down to when something goes wrong, why did it go wrong? Think about it and fix it on the fly. You have to be a great in-game adjuster at this level. To whatever they are throwing at us, we have to react to it and play well. I will be the first to tell you, I did not do that today.”
The defense had problems defending the edges all afternoon. Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen made the most of his attempts running the jet sweep. The number one receiver for Los Angeles was more of a threat running the football instead of catching it. If a team can not defend a play, why not run the same thing until they prove it can be stopped. That’s exactly what the Chargers did. As a result it made the Chargers offense even more dangerous. Expect teams to implement that against the Browns going forward.
Defending Rivers to Williams Possession:
Los Angeles really took control of the game on a two play drive in the second quarter. Both plays were deep passes from Philip Rivers to Tyrell Williams. Two plays for 89-yards and a touchdown. The touchdown pass appeared to be intercepted by Damarious Randall in the endzone. Williams got enough of his hands on the football to also appear to have possession. In the NFL if a receiver and defender both have possession of the ball, the ruling goes in favor of the receiver. A tough break results in six points instead of a takeaway.
“Damarious [Randall] is a very savvy guy,” T.J. Carrie said. “So those type of plays tend to go his way. He is going to make a lot more plays throughout this year like the ones he already has made. It is something that he will probably look at it, dissect it, and then move on.”
The injury bug has bitten the Browns, especially to the wide receiver core. The Browns only dressed four wide receivers for the game. In addition, newly signed wide out Breshad Perriman was inactive. Early on Rod Streater was knocked out of the game due to a neck stinger. Rookies Damion Ratley and Antonio Callaway were also dinged up. Perhaps the front office needs to add another veteran pass catcher this week.
“It was tough, but we have to step up and make plays when the ball comes our way,” Ratley said. “We need to make plays when plays need to be made. Suck it up and go.”
“It is the NFL. So it is the next man mentality,” David Njoku said. “That is all we can do and just keep working.”
The defense took a big hit on Sunday. Middle linebacker Joe Schobert missed his first snaps of his career. Schobert left the game in the third quarter due to a hamstring injury.
The running game had its worse game this season. 103-yards as a team is not great. Duke Johnson had a team high 36-yards. Johnson only had two carries. Carlos Hyde on had 34-yards on 14 carries. It should have been worse, but Hyde was able to break some tackles and create some holes to turn negative plays into positive runs. Nick Chubb only rushed three times for 25-yards. Chubb in addition to Johnson need to get more carries moving forward.
The Browns are known as a team that has trouble stopping the run. That was on full display on Sunday. Cleveland allowed 246 yards on 36 attempts to the Chargers. Melvin Gordon led the way with 132-yards on 18 carries. In addition, Gordon recorded his first career three rushing touchdown game.
“Did not play very well,” Jackson said. “On the edges, they were able to exploit it. We had no force set. That team ran the ball for a lot of yards.”
“I think we didn’t come out with enough energy,” Carrie said. “We didn’t have enough energy or enough focus, and defensively we have to be a lot more effective in those types of situations. A lot of those type of plays, we had had a feeling that they were going to happen, and we have to go out there and make plays. So there’s not much you can say about making plays in this league, because that is what it is about.”
So hopefully the Browns use this game as a wake up call. They have been competitive the first five weeks, but not in week six.