Fans of any team tend to be highly reactive to bad losses, particularly to rivals.
With the Browns facing 4 games with the Ravens and Steelers in a 5-week period, I’m expecting lots of drama. The Browns have a dedicated and knowledgeable fan base. They’ve clearly had enough of losing and can be very amusing when discussing it. Current topics include:
• What songs best convey the organizational commitment to losing?
• The Browns had only 9 men on the field for a punt Sunday (Q4, 12:14)
• Half of this roster needs to be GONE at year’s end
• “Occupy Berea” (the Browns training facility) or the competing project “March on Berea”
• One word Monday (a single word to describe the game)
By far my favorite is the “Browns Draft Tracker” which contains a detailed breakdown of the Brown’s projected draft position based on remaining games of all clock watchers and the all-important strength of schedule tiebreaker:
The Ravens chance to win the Lombardi is highly dependent on their ability to get the #1 seed, but if they do end up as a wild card it’s worth noting what the alternative is for 22 teams.
Excluding the kneel, the Browns had just 55 offensive snaps:
Versus the Run: 16 plays, 60 yards, 3.8 YPC
Versus the Pass: 39 plays, 174 yards, 4.5 YPP
Overall: 56 plays, 233 yards, 4.2 YPPA
By number of defensive backs:
3 DBs: 1 play, 0 yards
4 DBs: 21/132, 6.3 YPPA
5 DBs: 31/111 3.6 YPPA, 3 sacks, 1 TO
6 DBs: 2/-9, -4.5 YPPA
By number of pass rushers:
4: 25/152, 6.1 YPP, 2 sacks, 1 TO
5: 9/3, 0.3 YPP, 1 sack
6: 3/19, 6.3 YPP
• Ngata tipped 3 passes at the LoS, including one that went unrecorded in the Gamebook (Q4, 7:54). He worked off Pinkston to make the tackle on Hillis (Q3, 6:49) on the first and goal from the 5. Haloti was held to just 36 snaps.
• McPhee saw increased playing time in the 2nd half, but still played just 21 snaps, 19 of which were pass plays. The Browns averaged just 2.8 YPPA when he was in and he made significant individual contributions. Pernell registered a QH that was not credited in the Gamebook (Q1, 11:31). He beat Lauvao outside for a fast 7-yard sack (Q3, 3:06). He beat Pinkston inside to clean up for a 7-yard sack (Q4, 7:50). McPhee, Suggs, and Kruger all played a role in corralling Ogbonnaya for a loss of 9 (Q3, 10:54) on a middle screen. Finally, Pernell induced a hold from Lauvao on McCoy’s 10-yard pass to Ogbonnaya (Q4, 7:25). The play occurred on 3rd and 17, so it was declined. As well as he has played, it’s getting very difficult to tell his games apart.
• Arthur Jones made a pair of contributions in his first game back after missing 2 games. He knocked down McCoy on a screen pass (Q1 5:35) when he came untouched. The hit may have been low and forced McCoy from the game for 1 play. He drew an illegal hands to the face flag on Pinkston (Q3, 4:49).
• Kruger did not record a sack or hit as a pass rusher and was worse in coverage. I thought the short pass interference call (Q4, 7:58) should not have been called, but he was beaten by Watson for a gain of 11 (Q4, 4:49) on the touchdown drive. He was credited with just 1 tackle.
• The ability to rotate 7 defensive linemen is a luxury for a game this late in the season. Cody had just 21 snaps, Jones 16, Kruger 22 (snaps included by popular demand), McKinney 11, McPhee 21, Ngata 36, Redding 26, Suggs 53. Any game that can be both won decisively and shortened will pay dividends down the line.
• The Ravens played primarily nickel. Smith got his first start at LCB and would total 31 snaps as the 3rd DB. Williams and Webb missed just 1 snap each. Nakamura replaced Webb for 1 snap (Q4, 6:51) after Lardarius’ punt-return TD.
• Smith displayed good field vision with the football. He ran patiently, tried to both direct and wait for blocks, and maintained possession (Q2, 0:47) after his interception. Smith defended the sticks well on the snap to Seneca Wallace (Q1, 4:52) when he kept Little in front for a 4-yard completion on 3rd and 8. He had tight coverage on Massaquoi (Q4, 4:43) on a ball McCoy through out of the end zone. Just 3 plays later, Jimmy lost Moore on 4th down in the end zone for Cleveland’s only TD. Along with some correctable errors, all of the gifts are on display with Smith and appear to be as advertised. He should be one of the best corners in the AFC next season.
• Danny Gorrer made another impression in very limited duty. He played just 4 snaps, but was targeted twice. On the first, he dislodged the ball free from Norwood (Q2, 11:15) only to have the forced fumble reversed by challenge. On the second, he undercut Ogbonnaya by the right sideline and dropped a fairly easy pick. You can choose to see the glass as half empty or half full on that play, but the result was good. For the season, he’s now been targeted 10 times with just 2 receptions for 12 yards and 4 PDs!
• Ellerbe played a season-high 37 snaps and contributed. He was not credited with a PD on a hit that dislodged a bobble from Little (Q1, 15:00). After last week, it’s possible the Gamebook team may have expected Little to drop it without help. Dannell sniffed out the screen right to Ogbonnaya (Q1, 5:35) and arrived just after the ball with a clean, hard tackle for a loss of 1. Subjectively, it appeared the Ravens held Hillis to fewer yards after contact than in some past games and Ellerbe was a big part of that. Ellerbe remains a liability in pass coverage. Neither he nor McClain were able to cover shallow crossing routes. Watson beat Ellerbe (Q3, 11:44) for an 8-yard gain. It appeared Dannell, McClain, Reed, and Pollard had a discussion over coverage responsibility immediately following the 15-yard pass to Watson between the hashes (Q2, 12:40).
• Johnson continues to play well in more limited duty. He was credited with 3 tackles in 36 non-penalty snaps. That included dragging down Hillis as he held the edge well against Alex Smith (Q2, 4:09). On the very next play, he worked off the ORS to twist down Hillis for no gain on 3rd and 1. He sniffed out a screen to Smith who released late (Q3, 4;49) for a loss of 1. That play would be washed out when the Ravens accepted the penalty on Pinkston.
• I didn’t know exactly what to expect from the pass rush after the frenzy against the 49ers. Pagano was again conservative by numbers with just 3 rushes with 6 men and none with more. The Ravens also used much less pre-snap movement and stunting. I scored only 2 rushes as deceptive and the Ravens went to the 4-man rush almost exclusively once they took command (11 of the last 12 pass plays).
• Defensively, the effort may have fallen just 2 bad plays from a shutout. We’ve already touched on the 4th-down TD pass to Moore lost by Smith. Bernard Pollard losing Peyton Hillis (Q3, 7:24) for 52 yards was the other. Most of the rest of the Browns offensive snaps were contested within a few yards of the line of scrimmage.