Cleveland Browns Three-and-Out: Week 5 vs. Patriots
The Cleveland Browns were fortunate enough this past week to be the team to welcome back a vengeful Tom Brady from his four-week suspension. At 0-4, the Browns had been putting together strong showings in games that realistically could have put them at 3-1 or 2-2 coming into week five. This, along with the fact that Cleveland has always seemed to play New England well and has historically, statistically been one of the Patriots toughest opponents, gave some fans hope that Cody Kessler could at least keep the Browns in this game.
That hope was quickly dashed as the Patriots leapt all over the Browns and didn’t let up on their way to a dominating 33-13 win. Here are my three biggest takeaways from this brutal beat down.
1. There is no more dangerous a job than that of a Cleveland Browns quarterback
First it’s Robert Griffin III who goes down with a shoulder injury in week one, then Josh McCown follows suit in week two with a broken collarbone. This forces Terrelle Pryor and Cody Kessler into action, and Kessler looks pretty good going into the Patriots game week five. However, things go from bad to worse as Kessler gets hurt in just the first quarter, and Charlie Whitehurst is the next man up. That is until the fourth quarter when sure enough, he gets hurt, and Pryor finishes up the game at quarterback. This has almost gotten comical at this point.
The team has since moved on from Whitehurst, McCown is on the mend and growing closer to his return, and Kessler is expected to be good to go for this coming Sunday. Rookie Kevin Hogan was called up from the practice squad to replace Whitehurst, and should things not progress as well as anticipated for Kessler or McCown, Hogan could very well end up becoming number 27 on the list of Browns starters since ’99. *Gulp*
2. Hopefully, this was just a bump on the road that has been Isaiah Crowell’s standout season thus far
The Patriots came into last weekend’s game ranked as one of the best teams in the league at stopping the run. They held Crowell to only 22 yards on 13 attempts, and it really set the team behind from the word go. Before this game, Crowell had been averaging nearly 100 yards per game on the ground, and ranked in the top-three in the league in rushing. This was the first time this season that Crow had not averaged at least five yards a carry
Next week, Cleveland travels to Tennessee who ranks 16th against the run this season, and after that travel to Cincinnati to face a Bengals team that ranks 21st. The Browns may be 0-5, but Crowell has provided one of the few bright spots on this team, and if they are going to have any chance to win any games going forward this season, he will need to keep his production at peak levels.
3. This team would be nowhere without Terrelle Pryor
I know what you’re thinking: “But Jack, the Browns are still 0-5. How could they really be ‘anywhere’ in the first place?” You are right and that is a fair question, but if you really look at how they played in three of those losses, they could be sitting here at 3-2, had they not had a numerous “Cleveland” moves. Blown calls by the officials, missed field goals and innumerable injuries this team complied. Now answer me this, would you rather have a team that’s 0-5 who has not put up a fight in any game, or a team that’s 0-5 but was in a few of those games till the very end? I don’t know many people that would take the former.
Perhaps the most important piece to this offense’s and team’s success is WR-convert, Terrelle Pryor. He currently leads the team in receiving, with over 100 yards between him and second-placed Gary Barnidge. Pryor has been asked to do so much more than just catch the ball. Hue Jackson hasn’t been afraid to throw him in at quarterback when needed, and while those plays have few and far between, when his number is called, he will answer and do whatever he needs to help the team.
His versatility and athleticism make him a matchup nightmare at whatever position he is playing. When Cody Parkey went cold in week three, missing three field goals and costing Cleveland the game against the Dolphins, a lot of fans were asking – mostly jokingly – if Terrelle Pryor could kick field goals as well as pass, catch and run (the sad part is, I would trust him to put it through the uprights as well).
Without the production between him and Crowell this season, Cleveland would be one of those team’s staring 0-16 right in the face (not that they aren’t already), and would be a pseudo bye week for whatever team they played. Jackson recently stated that Pryor is the only member of the team he considers to be “Untouchable,” and thankfully so.