Hammer Time!

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This past Sunday the Cleveland Browns pulled the curtain on their home schedule, with a 26-18 beating of the hapless Cincinnati Bengals.  It was the first game I have ever watched where nearly every Offensive play the Browns ran…worked.  Everything was clicking.  The win on Sunday brings the Browns to 7-7-1 on the year.  Sadly, their fate was out of their own hands.  The day prior saw the Redskins lose to the Tennessee Titans, which was enough to officially eliminate the Browns.  Don’t cry because its over, smile because it happened.  I’m not necessarily mad they didn’t make the playoffs a year removed from not winning a single game, but looking back….FUCK.  They should be in.  The Browns should be traveling to Baltimore for the right to claim the AFC North Title.  Hindsight really makes those early season losses that much worse.  They will be playing a game which determines the AFC North Title at the very least? Either way, the Browns and their fans are having some fun.  This past week was yet another display of that, as it was a fucking treat to watch.

The beginning of the game saw both teams come out a bit flat.  It is expected for the Bengals who have nothing to play for at this stage.  The Browns had been coming out firing for the better part of a month, but the Bengals were able to stymie them early on.  Both squads exchanged 4 punts to begin the Battle of Ohio.  Finally at the end of the First Quarter Mayfield lead a long march inside the Bengal Five yard line.  On Third and Goal from the Three, Mayfield hit David Njoku in the back corner of the Endzone to open up the scoring.

Nice throw by Mayfield to the back corner, and all Chief has to do is win the one on one battle, which he does easily.  Seems like a light switch has been turned for Njoku since the Kansas City game.  The Browns in general are freaking money in the Red Zone.  The Red Zone used to be a place where I closed my eyes and just hoped for the best.  Recently I can count on them to make big plays in the Red Zone.

Having just scored, the Browns were feeling it.  The very next possession had the Bengals going the wrong direction.  3 plays totaling a loss of 11 yards.  The Browns got the ball back, eager to give the Sellout crowd a show, Freddie Kitchens dialed up yet another trick on the first play from the Browns 30:

Seeing this as a trend this year in the NFL.  A ton of teams are running a shitload of Jet-Sweeps with Wide Receivers, and occasionally having them throw up a bomb.  We’ve seen a few from Odell Beckham this year, and Landry has made a few attempts himself.  Helluva throw on this play.  No joke this might be the second best throw by a Browns QB since 1999.  What a beautiful throw by Landry!  First, he shows great awareness feeling that pressure coming, stepping into pocket, and hitting Perriman’s back shoulder in stride.  Not to mention he fit it between two defenders.  There goes Perriman again with his token big play.  Two plays later, Mayfield fired a Touchdown pass to Darren Fells to make it 13-0 Browns.

The Browns were rolling, so naturally Greg Joseph decided he’d rather play “H-O-R-S-E” by drilling the upright with the Extra-Point.  It wouldn’t pose much of a problem, because the Bengals would not threaten for the remainder of the first half.  The Browns would add a Greg Joseph Field Goal to make it 16-0 at halftime.

The Second half started out much like the First.  The Bengals were forced to punt on their first possession.  Mayfield made them pay, taking the Browns on a 9 play, 87 yard march to pay dirt.  On 3rd and 4 from the Bengal 17, Mayfield hit Rashard Higgins underneath, and Higgins took care of the rest:

Once again the Browns were absolutely torching the Bengals.  They would add one more Field Goal in the fourth Quarter to make it 26-0.  Jeff Driskel then lead a mini-charge, scoring 18 unanswered points.  On their last drive of the game, Mayfield decided it was time to ice the game:

Best part about this play?

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Naturally that is Hue Jackson who Baker is taunting right there.  I was hoping they’d get really mean, and try and punch it in after that long catch and run.  Sadly the Browns decided to #VictoryFormation for the remainder of the game.  A third consecutive win brings them to 7-7-1.  This is bittersweet because it is great to finally be winning at a healthy clip.  7 wins a year removed from winless will never not be a positive.  It is unfortunate that their ducks were not in a row at the beginning of the season.  There are games that they should have won.  Oakland, New Orleans, Tampa, and the first meeting with the Steelers should all have been Browns wins.  More often than not, the Browns beat themselves or got screwed by inexplicable calls in those games.  They should be around the 11 win clip.  That doesn’t mean this season is a failure, its just giving me some serious blue balls.  Had that first down call in Oakland not been reversed, this weeks match-up with Baltimore would be for the fucking division.

This game does have meaning, as it will determine who wins the AFC North.  If the Browns win, the Steelers will take the North (assuming they beat Cincinnati).  The Ravens win and they’re in.

The game has been flexed into the National time-slot with Nance and Romo calling this one.  Hopefully the Browns will be playing more Nationally televised games in the future, but with their own Playoff fate on the line.  Lets finish above .500, shall we?

Lets go Browns!

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Feelin’ Dangerous.

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Fuckin’ right!  For the first time in years (seriously its been like 3-4 years), the Cleveland Browns beat an opponent soundly.  No barely made field goals as time expired, or a stop on the final drive.  The Browns took a multiple possession lead into the fourth quarter, and closed it out.  The Atlanta Falcons were red hot coming in, having won three straight games.  Didn’t matter on this day, as the Browns finally had their Offense AND Defense clicking at the same time.   The win was a nice glimpse into the future, as two Browns Rookies shined the brightest.  Nick Chubb and Baker Mayfield electrified FirstEnergy Stadium.  For the first time in years, the whole Browns roster played a complete game on Sunday.  Wow that feels good to say!

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I was expecting another loss coming into this one, considering Atlanta was coming in hot.  Stupid of me considering the teams they beat consisted of the New York Football Giants, Washington Redskins, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Browns were coming off an ass-kicking, courtesy of the Kansas City Chiefs.  Didn’t matter on this Sunday, as the Browns showed they were ready to play from the get-go.

Both teams exchanged punts to start the game, but on their second possession, the Browns started to march.  Mayfield got it going with a nice 16 yard catch and scamper by Breshad Perriman.   Two plays later from the Cleveland 30 yard line, Mayfield fired an 18 yard strike to David Njoku, and I am still not sure how this dude caught it.

Just an unreal throw from Baker, and a shockingly good awareness/hands from Njoku.  Certainly not one he usually catches.  A 13 catch and run by Nick Chubb, and a 10 yard reception by Jarvis Landry had the Browns at 1st and 10 from the Atlanta 28 yard line.  Magic ensued as Mayfield took a shotgun snap, rolled to his right, and fired a 28 yard strike to a leaping Rashard Higgins.

Just an awesome drive, capped off by Mayfield’s best throw of the afternoon.  Rolling out to his right, pressure coming up the middle and on the edge, and he fired a pill off his back foot.  Just an awesome throw, one Cleveland Browns fans are not used to seeing.  A nice 7-0 lead for the Browns.

Just as you might expect, the Atlanta Falcons came right back down the field on their ensuing possession, as Giorgio Tavecchio nailed a 40 yard field goal.  It capped off a long 15 play, 53 yard drive.  On the ensuing Browns possession, things were looking great again, until Freddie Kitchens got a little too excited.

AHHHHHH fuck guys!  A nice 6 play drive had gotten the ball into Falcon territory, and the Browns got cute.  Never get cute if you’re the Browns.  Coming out in sort of variation of the Wishbone formation, Dontrelle Hilliard (lined up to Mayfields left) took a quick hand-off, and Mayfield took off to the flat on the left sideline.  Hilliard reared back and threw a duck to Mayfield.  It was easily picked off by Damontae Kazee, who ran it back to the Cleveland 45 yard line.   I have no problem with these gadget plays when you’re struggling to find some offense and need a spark.  The Browns were moving the ball at will, and got a little cocky when they didn’t have to.  Six plays later, Matt Ryan found Julio Jones for six.

This is where you start to groan and say, well that’s it!  A costly turnover which the Falcons capitalized on to take the lead.  Its all down hill from here, right?  Wrong.  The Browns responded with a mesmerizing 8 play, 80 yard march to pay-dirt.  On 2nd and 13 from the Atlanta 13, Baker Mayfield found Nick Chubb on a beautifully set up screen pass.  Chub waltzed into the endzone from there.

Beautifully set up screen pass by Mayfield, who stood tall selling all of the fakes.  Even better job by the big uglies on the offensive line.  They set up a nice wall for Chubb once he caught it, and they sealed off the only free would-be tackler.  The Browns would head into half up 14-10.  Baker finished with a perfect passer rating.  Unreal, it’s so beautiful I nearly shed tears of joy.

The Falcons would open up the second half with the ball, looking to take a lead.  Instead, on the third play of the half, Mohamed Sanu coughed up the ball, and the Browns recovered in Atlanta Territory.  Six plays later, Duke Johnson caught a Baker Mayfield check-down, and waltzed into the endzone, similar to Chubb.

So now, I am trying not to get excited.  A two possession lead is normally this teams Kryptonite.    I was fully expecting Atlanta to make it 21-17 on their next possession.  The Browns had other ideas, as they forced Matt Ryan and the Falcons to go three-and-out.  When the Browns got the ball back, they were pinned deep.  Starting from their 8 yard line, I was hoping for a long, clock killing drive.  Nick Chubb said “fuck it”

On 2nd and 8 from the Cleveland 8, Nick Chubb exploded through the line of scrimmage, and it was over from there.  92 fucking yards, and the Browns were up 28-10.  Unbelievable.  Shout out to Antonio Callaway on this play, who I give a lot of shit to.  Helluva play here.  Nowadays everything is damn penalty, so he directs Chubb to the left, and merely creates a moving screen.  Thankfully that Sally did not want any part of engaging Callaway, or trying to tackle Chubb.  Callaway merely stood in the way.  No stupid penalties taken.  The best play Callaway has made all year, and I mean that.  It was a smart, heads up play.

It was 28-10 for the majority of the 4th quarter, as the Browns were trying kill the clock.  So were the Falcons apparently, as they marched at their own pace.  The Falcons marched inside the Cleveland 10 twice in the fourth Quarter.  One trip resulted in a turnover on downs:

The second trip into the Redzone resulted in a Matt Ryan touchdown pass to Austin Hooper on 4th and goal.

BLAH.  Shoulda made that tackle.  Shoulda, coulda, woulda though.  The Browns would in fact sack Ryan on their 2 point conversion attempt, keeping the score at 28-16.  The Falcons would get the ball on last time, and the game ended on sack fumble recovered by Jamie Collins.

When the Browns want to be, they can play with anyone, and they can beat anyone. We are finally starting to see some more disciplined play, since the departure of Hue Jackson.

OH you don’t fucking say?!  Only 4, huh?  Funny how that works.  Remove the common denominator, and good things happen.   Credit to Gregg Williams, as he as instilled far more Football discipline than Hue.  It seems to be a huge problem for Jackson as this same issue constantly plagues the teams he’s coached.

The Browns are off this week, which sucks because you want them to try and ride the momentum of their win.  Two weeks off is dangerous, because they are gonna be hearing how great they are.  Hopefully they continue to build off this win, and don’t get complacent during the Bye week.  The Browns next game will be in two weeks time, in Cincinnati.  Cincy is coming off getting bent by the New Orleans Saints at home to the tune of 51-14.  The Browns can beat these fucking bums.  With two weeks to prepare, I would hope the Browns take advantage of the reeling Bengals, who fired there Defensive Coordinator this past Monday.

More incentive to beat the fucking pulp out of these guys.  Less than two weeks after his firing, Hue Jackson took a Dwight Schrute esque role with the Bengals.  He did a media tour saying “WOE IS ME” and “NOT MY FAULT”, and then takes a job with his soulmate Marvin Lewis.  I have never wanted a win more.  I wouldn’t hate him so much if he had just shut his fucking mouth.  He’s the only coach to basically go on a media tour to plead for another job.  A media tour in which he blamed everyone but himself.  I hope the Browns see this, and get ready to bury that motherfucker.

Says it all right there.  So much lack of respect.  I love it.  I bet there are many more Browns players who feel the same way, and we just don’t know it.  Either way, Hue’s return has made this match-up in two weeks more interesting.  It has certainly made for some classic, memes,  gifs, and other internet jokes.

Two weeks to prepare for this fucking guy.  Two weeks.  Lets hope the Browns build off this last week, and add a few more wins to the total.  I do not think they are going to make a legitimate run at the playoffs this year.  The problem with the Browns winning is…people tend to overreact to them.  It happens so little, every time they win we see articles and tweets about Playoffs.  Could they?  Sure. Will they? You know the answer to that.  They can definitely still play spoiler for other teams like the Bengals and Ravens.  Just enjoy the win for two weeks, and lets see what they’re made of coming out of the Bye.

Go Browns!  Can’t lose this weekend!

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.