The Cleveland Browns lost a forgettable, awful football game to the New York Jets. They made a few plays, but missed a ton and the Jets move to 7-8 and the Browns to 4-11. Even if the Browns won, it was a forgettable, awful football game that fans would forget by next Sunday as they go to the Pittsburgh Steelers. So, forget it now. It is a waste of time and energy to be emotionally drained by the performance this team had this week. Christmas is in three days and win or lose today, the Browns were still a bad team without a quarterback, running game with everyone waiting until the NFL Draft to see what happens. The only difference is that by losing the Browns have maintained their draft position to ensure they are in the best possible position to address those issues.
Jason Campbell was a train wreck in this game. He was inaccurate from start to finish, was visibly uncomfortable in the face of pressure and managed to bring back a memory from Christmas past in the form of an interception from the future hall of fame/current husk of a safety in Ed Reed. When he was not missing receivers completely, he was forcing passes into coverage in bad spots for Josh Gordon or taking terrible sacks.
The only receiver who did not appear to have a drop in this game was Jordan Cameron by virtue of the fact he did not play. In reality, Brian Tyms was able to get the first two catches of his NFL career without any drops and everyone’s favorite sixth wide receiver Josh Cooper was able to avoid any drops.
The offense clearly missed Cameron and the Jets were able to dramatically shift coverages to box in Gordon. Most of the time, they had a safety in the middle of the field with a heavy lean to Gordon’s while Dee Milliner was able to play on the outside and compete pinch in when the ball went in the air. They had a lot of success and while Gordon still made plays (6 catches for 97 yards), he did not kill them like he has other teams. Despite what appeared evidence to the contrary, he really cannot do it all himself and needs some help.
Edwin Baker was solid but unspectacular against an effective Jets defense and while he does not need to be handed a job for next year, he has most assuredly earned an invite to camp to compete for a job. He really functions well in this offense and when he was not running into a cement wall in the form of a few talented Jets defensive linemen, he continued to hit the hole quickly and confidently as well as making plays as a receiver.
There is going to be a ton of emphasis on the struggles in the red zone. The Browns were awful in that area and were only able to get one touchdown on three opportunities. They failed on fourth quarter once and Rob Chudzinski went ahead and kicked a field goal on the last one after seeing so much offensive futility.
The Browns do not have a quarterback who can make plays consistently. They do not have a running game that is remotely consistent. The Browns offense working on a smaller area of the field is incredibly difficult and this game showed it. Gordon struggled in that area and while the plays certainly would not have been easy, he missed a few that he had been able to make at other points in time this year.
Defensively, the Browns were not awful on the scoreboard necessarily, but they got taken behind the woodshed in the running game in a way that had not happened all season. They gave up a lot of yardage on the ground; 208 yards in all which includes 11 yard loss on the stretch play that Barkevious Mingo took apart. The most successful of the group was Chris Ivory, who averaged 5.5 yards per carry going for 109 yards. Bilal Powell had a productive day and Geno Smith, like a lot of quarterbacks this season against the Browns, was able to scramble for yardage. Losing Phil Taylor in the second half certainly made that more difficult, but the Browns just did not play well. They would make the occasional big stop or tackle for loss, but overall, they got beaten up and run over in a way that cannot simply be disregarded. This is one that is going to stick with that defense for a little while and it should.
On pass defense, the coverage was by in large solid. The Browns struggled to get to the quarterback and while they got a few pressures, they could not win individual matchups, which has been a big issue the second half of the season. There were some flashes from players like Mingo, but Geno Smith was pretty comfortable in the pocket and able to operate. He had time and with time came openings in the defense. To Smith’s credit, he made them count. They were efficient and able to convert a bunch of third downs, which felt a lot worse than the 214 yards the Jets had passing.
The Browns were not good. They were bad. Had they pulled out a win, it would have been an ugly, forgettable, unremarkable one. There are going to be those in the media who get up in arms about this today, tomorrow, and this week. Avoid that trap. It was an ugly, ugly football game regardless of who won. Thankfully it is over and there is only one more to get through before a huge offseason begins and far more fruitful conversations take place. There is a ton of pressure on the front office to deliver a quarterback and a productive offense that needs to start happening next season. The Browns are 4-11 and hopefully end up 4-12 with a top draft pick in the top 2 to 5. Renovations on the stadium start Monday. Any other emotion being spent on this mess is unwarranted and wasteful.