How About Those Browns?!

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I can’t even really describe what I have been watching these past four weeks.  All I know, is that finally, after years of suffering, the Cleveland Browns are showing signs of progress.  It hasn’t been pretty by any means but, it is October 11th, and the Browns are still very much in the thick of it.  At the end of the day, this all a Browns fan can really ask.  After Sunday’s miraculous overtime victory, the Browns improved to 2-2-1 on the season.  There is hope.  There is also quite a bit of frustration, as they should really be 5-0.

Week 1, The Browns played to an ugly, 21-21 tie with divisional rivals, Pittsburgh.  Tyrod Taylor looked beyond pedestrian in this one.  Taylor finished with a measly 15 completions, 197 yards and 1 touchdown.  He did the bulk of his damage on the ground, as he rushed for 77 yards and  1 touchdown, on 8 attempts. Josh Gordon caught his last ever Browns touchdown as time expired, to tie the game at 21.

Despite generating 6 turnovers, the Browns weren’t able to break the tie in overtime, and the Steelers whiffed on their chances as well.  In the pouring rain, the Browns had tied.

Despite not losing for the first time in over a year, the Browns still entered week 2 with a bitter taste in their mouth.  I was expecting the doors to be blown off courtesy of Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr, and countless other weapons. I was dead wrong.  The Browns not only showed up, but they carried the play for the majority of the game.

Once again, the Cleveland Browns came up short.  Having gotten off to a 12-3 lead in the third quarter, the wheels fell off.  Right now, you can count on the Browns to blow a two possession lead the very second they get one.   Multiple missed field goals by Zane Gonzalez lead to the Browns dropping a heart-breaker, 21-18.

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Tyrod had a better performance in Week 2, but still left so much to be desired.  Taylor finished 22-30, 246 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. He didn’t cost the Browns the game, but as the Quarterback, he didn’t go out and win it either.  The Browns remained winless at, 0-1-1.

The following week, the Browns season was on the brink already.  Sure they were only 0-1-1, but they desperately needed to get a win.  They needed to end the worst losing streak in team history.  The New York Jets came into Cleveland, riding the chosen one, Sam Darnold.  Again, Tyrod Taylor was miserable.  The Jets had absolutely zero respect for his ability to read the defense, step into the pocket, and fire it to an open receiver down field.  The Jets blitzed on almost every obvious passing situation.  They were shutting the Browns rushing attack down, save for one big Tyrod run, and a few Carlos Hyde runs for first downs.  With just under 5 minutes to play in the 2nd Quarter, Tyrod Taylor was taken to locker-room to be evaluated for concussion.  The Browns were down 14-0, and reeling.

Enter, 6.

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Right from the get-go, The Browns looked like a totally different team.  Suddenly, the Browns were marching. They were able to muster up a field goal drive to end the first half, cutting the score to 14-3.  The Jets got the ball to start the half, but sensational Rookie Corner, Denzel Ward forced the Jets, Robby Anderson to fumble deep inside Jets territory.  Ward ran the ball deep down inside the Jets 10 yard line.

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The Browns would have to settle for a field goal, making it 14-6 Jets in the 3rd.  Sporting a stout, playoff caliber defense, the Jets would be forced to punt again on the ensuing possession.  Mayfield responded, leading a  7 play 69 yard touchdown drive, when Carlos Hyde rumbled in from the 1 yard line.  How did the Browns get to the 1 you ask?

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Holy shit!  The Browns don’t make plays like this.  Jarvis Landry displayed some fantastic concentration and hands to haul in Mayfield’s frozen rope. Down 8 points, Baker had the stadium buzzing.  Carlos Hyde capped off the drive with a 1 yard touchdown run, to make it 14-12 New York.  Surely the Cleveland Browns will botch the 2 point conversiton.  A sack, fumble, interception, penalty, or drop will surely be the outcome.

Wrong.

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And the game was tied!  Similar to the Landry catch, the Cleveland Browns do not execute plays like this.  Especially in a live game.  Yet Jarvis Landry tossed a beautiful left handed throw to Mayfield in the endzone.  Darnold and the Jets did not waiver, as Sam lead a 12-play 65 yard field goal drive to make it 17-14, J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets.

Never fear, 6 is here.  Not flinching one bit, Mayfield 15-play, 65 yard touchdown drive.  Carlos Hyde rumbled into the endzone for his second score of the game, and the Browns chopped 6:52 off the clock.

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The following possessions saw Darnold through interceptions to Joe Schoebert and Terrance Mitchell, which iced the game for the Browns. Off the schneid at long last.  The worst year of football finally came to an end.  While Tyrod was knocked out of this game with injury, everybody knew it was going to be Mayfield the rest of the way.  He finished the game 17 of 23, 201 yards, and no touchdowns or interceptions.  Not bad for a half of play.  The Browns were feeling good about themselves heading out to Oakland the following week.

Feeling good alright!  Those 1-1-1 Cleveland Browns!  Oakland sucked the good feelings about the Jets win out of me.  I don’t want to talk too much about this game, I would just get pissed off.  The Browns won this game.  Period.  They won it.  Carlos Hyde got that fucking first down, you know it, I know it, and that sackless fucker Walt Anderson knows it too.

Baker Mayfield played fairly well in this one finishing, 21-41, 295 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.  He also fumbled twice, but still the Browns had the ball with under 2 minutes to play, only needing a first down to ice the game.  On 3rd and 2 from the Browns 19 yard line, Carlos Hyde powered his way to the 21 yard line.   He made it to the marker, not past it.  The officials measured it and the ball was a pube hair past the marker for a first down.  For absolutely no reason whatsoever, the booth reviewed the spot.  Not a single replay showed the ball not making it to the sticks, where they originally marked it.  The officials decided to move it back a full yard out of nowhere.  This forced the Browns to punt, and from there they would give up their 8 point lead, and eventually lose in overtime.  Fuck Walt Anderson.

That brings us to this past Sunday.  The Baltimore Ravens came into Cleveland riding high, after dismantling Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers.  The Browns were coming off a brutal loss, one in which they should have won.  For the first time in what seems like 20 years, the Browns proved me wrong.  Coming in, the thought was they would get their teeth kicked in by John Brown, Michael Crabtree, and Captain Elite Joe Flacco.   Not to mention, Baltimore has an insane track record against rookie QB’s.

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Since 2008 the Ravens are a whopping 15-5 against Rookie Quarterbacks, and 7-0 against Browns rookies.  The Ravens are always no joke on defense, but their offense is so Jekyll and Hyde.  This leaves you never knowing if you’ll get blown out, or play them close.

Early on, things looked like they could get hairy, as Baker threw a pick on the Browns first possession.

Tough one here.  This wasn’t a poor read, or forcing it into coverage, but it was miscommunication.  Mayfield was expecting Rashard Higgins to continue his route across the middle (a deep 10 yard in-route).  Higgins broke his route off and continued straight up the seam of the field.  Baker threw it expecting the crossing route, and it was picked off easily.

With great field position after the takeaway, Justin Tucker nailed a hit a 44 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Ravens, after the Browns dug in to force a three and out.  The remainder of the half saw the teams trade three-and-outs.  In the Second Quarter, Flacco and the Ravens managed to drive inside the Browns 10.   Sensational Rookie Corner, Denzel Ward picked an arrant Flacco pass, for his third interception in 4 weeks.  This kid has been everything you would ask from a number 1 Corner, and then some.

Wouldn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, as both teams punted twice a piece in the following 4 possessions.  Finally, with under two minutes to play, Baker Mayfield began to march the Browns in their 2-minute offense.  Two big gains from David Njoku of 19 and 24 yards had the Browns with 1st and 10 from the Baltimore 19 yard line.  Mayfield stood in the pocket and fired a 19 yard touchdown pass to Rashard Higgins to make it 6-3 Browns.  Of course new Kicker, Greg Joseph drilled the extra-point off the upright.

This gave the Ravens some time to march down the field, and potentially tie the game before the half ended.  Flacco managed to march the birds 45 yards on 7 plays to set up a Tucker attempt to tie the game.

Denzel Ward making a big time fucking play to keep the Browns in the lead.  This guy has done nothing but make play after play.  He just gets the ball, doesn’t matter how.  What a fantastic pick.  All the Browns fans bitching like school girls because they passed up on Bradley Chubb.  Gimmie the lock-down corner who has a nose for the football every single time.

The second half was a complete snoozefest.  The Browns managed to add a field goal to make it, 9-3 in the third quarter.  The Ravens countered with two field goals to tie the game.  As per usual, the Browns were unable to put away a team they were beating fairly soundly.

For the 3rd time in 5 games the Browns were playing an Overtime Period.   It continued much like the second half did, with each team exchanging punts and three-and-outs.  Finally with just over 2 minutes left to play in the stalemate, the Browns got the ball back at their own 16.  On the very first play of the drive, Todd Haley called one of the worst play’s I have ever seen.   A jet sweep to Rod fucking Streater.

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It was an 11 yard loss, and they were staring a 2nd and 21 from their own five yard line.  A 13 yard scramble by Mayfield helped gain a huge chunk of that loss back.  Then the magic happened.  On 3rd and 8 Baker Mayfield scrambled in the pocket, and found Derrick Willies at the first down marker, Willies slipped the defender covering him, and was off to the races.  He was finally brought down inside Raven territory.  It was a 39 yard catch and run, leading the Browns to 1st and 10 from the Baltimore 43.

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Two Duke Johnson runs later brought the ball to the Baltimore 19, with 6 seconds remaining in overtime.  The Browns took their final timeout, and we prayed.

Well I’ll be, the Cleveland Browns won on Sunday.  Can’t even describe the feeling of relief that was felt after this win.  The Jets win can be be spun as, “well it’s the Jets”.  This one is a quality win against a quality team.  I could give two fucks if it was ugly, pretty, or sexy.  All wins are sexy.  So now your 2-2-1 Cleveland Browns matching up against the 3-2 L.A. Chargers.    A winnable game by all means.

Will the Browns continue to win, and contend for the playoffs?  Probably not.  That doesn’t mean I don’t think they can, but I just feel like they are still a bit too young.  With the roster as it stands, they should have 5-7 wins by the time the time this year will be all said and done.  Could more be on the table?  Absolutely.  Could less be on the table?  Absolutely. In the meantime, we are getting some wins, and we are getting positive Quarterback play. No disrespect to Tyrod Taylor, but he was fucking dreadful. If Baker can continue to play at high level, and cut down on the turnovers, than we are in some serious business. But for now, let’s ride our top 5 defense to the gates of Hell.

For now enjoy whatever wins come from this season, because the schedule is fucking brutal Who knows, maybe they’ll catch fire with Six at the wheel?

Let’s go Browns!! October 11th, and they’re in the thick of it. Enjoy it while it lasts.

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