Browns fall to Chargers, 5 takeaways from the loss


Oct 4, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Cleveland Browns cornerback Johnson Bademosi (24) and outside linebacker Armonty Bryant (95) celebrate a missed field goal by San Diego Chargers kicker Josh Lambo (2) at the end of the fourth quarter that would have won the game at Qualcomm Stadium. However a penalty on Cleveland allowed Lambo a second chance and he did not miss as the Chargers won 30-27. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Browns seem to always keep finding new ways to lose a football game.

After not only scoring a touchdown, but converting the two-point conversion to tie the game at 27 with just over two minutes remaining, the defense failed to get a stop that would have sent the game to overtime.

A missed field goal gave the Browns another easy chance to get to overtime, but an obvious offsides penalty on Tramon Williams gave the Chargers another chance, and they converted.

Good teams find ways to win the games. The Browns find ways to lose them.

Before the rant goes too far, let’s look at five things that stood out from the loss.

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1. It’s not just the run defense…

It’s the entire defense.

The Browns entered the game allowing a league-worst 158.3 rushing yards a game, but actually held the Chargers to 91 total rushing yards.

This sounds good until you see that Philip Rivers passed for 358 yards and three touchdowns. Behind an inexperienced line. With inexperienced receivers.

The defense was without Joe Haden, but one player does not account for blown coverages and blitzes with no plan for how to cover the receivers if the blitz does not reach the quarterback fast enough.

There were countless plays when it was clear that the Browns were bringing heavy pressure, but all Rivers had to do was quickly get rid of the ball, which he did often.

There is no excuse for giving up 30 points and 438 total yards to an offense with three starting lineman out of the game.

2. Mistakes continue to add up.

Josh McCown may be one of the most reliable quarterbacks the Browns have had since 1999. He showed it today by throwing no interceptions, and only turning the ball over on a play that was inches away from being ruled an incomplete pass.

The offense finished with only one turnover, but that is not the story.

The 12 penalties for 91 yards did nothing to help their chances of winning.

There is blame placed on many sources for penalties. Coaches can be blamed for not having a disciplined team, but these mistakes should fall on the players.

Just take Tramon Williams’ offsides at the end of the game. That is simply a lack of responsibility in the most important part of the game. You cannot blame the coaches for a player disregarding common sense.

3. Josh McCown is firmly planted at the starting QB.

The offense played a great game. They gained 432 total yards, led by the solid play of McCown. He went completed 32 of his 41 passes for 356 yards and two touchdowns.

He never panicked and completed several passes when it looked like the play was lost and a sack was imminent. Having that confidence and composure in the pocket is not a familiar sight in Cleveland, and it is great to have that going forward.

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Criticism may come for a lack of red zone efficiency, but the play-calling is the problem. There are too many screens and short passes that are well short of the necessary yardage. If Johnny Manziel was in the game this would make more sense, but there is no need to hold back McCown and his proven abilities as a quarterback.

4. Gary Barnidge is the best receiver on the team.

Gary Barnidge did not have the most receiving yards on the day, but he had the two most important catches. Too bad they couldn’t translate to a win.

Both of his great catches came on the touchdown drive that tied game at 27. The first was the 19-yard reception that was initially bobbled by Barnidge, but pulled in at the last second. The pass was ruled incomplete but a Browns challenge changed the call and the ball was at the 1-yard line.

Two plays later, Barnidge hauled in the touchdown pass that set up the game-tying two-point conversion.

He finished with six catches for 75 yards and a touchdown, but he has emerged as the most reliable target on the team. That should continue moving forward.

5. Success from the special teams.

The offense played a great game, but it was kicker Travis Coons who kept the Browns in the game. He hit all four of his field goal attempts and remains perfect on the season.

Andy Lee continues to be an asset and proves it with punts that seem to hang in the air forever.

In the return game, Justin Gilbert may have found a spot where he can play consistently. He had three kick returns for 110 yards, which is not why he was drafted, but is still a positive thing to write about.

The Browns head to Baltimore next week to take on a Ravens team that is also 1-3, but coming off a stolen win against the Steelers.

The talk this week will not focus on McCown and Manziel anymore, but on what is wrong with the defense.

Next: Browns fall to Chargers 30-27