Cleveland Browns: 3 offensive takeaways vs. the Miami Dolphins
The Cleveland Browns suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss at the hands of the Miami Dolphins. Here are three offensive takeaways from the game.
The Cleveland Browns offense finally showed up on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. Not that it wasn’t around in the previous games, but for the first time this season the Browns offense finally looked like a Hue Jackson offense.
They ran the ball first, which set up all of Jackson’s famous trickery, and were able to generate more than 400 yards of total offense. While attaining that number they rushed for 169 yards as a team on 32 carries, for an average of 5.3 yards a carry. The running game was established as a mainstay of the offense against the Ravens and its presence was felt once again in Miami.
The passing attack was surprisingly efficient as, between Terrelle Pryor and Cody Kessler the Browns passed for 261 yards on 38 attempts, for an average of 6.2 yards per pass.
Although the offense started slow, not only in the season but also against Miami, the Browns have steadily improved from game to game. Against the Dolphins, the Browns looked like a well-coached offense and it will be interesting to see what happens when the Browns are healthy.
Here are three takeaways from Sunday’s performance.
Pay the man!
To borrow a favorite line from Deon “Prime Time” Sanders, “Pay the man!” Terrelle Pryor put on a show worthy of Prime Time on Sunday as he did it all.
Pryor ran the ball four times for 21 yards including a touchdown that put the Browns back into the game. As a receiver, he caught eight passes for 144 yards. As a quarterback he ran the offense efficiently while going three-for-five for 35 yards. His presence at quarterback allowed Kessler some time to settle in after some early struggles.
On top of all that, Pryor helped out on defense as a deep defender against a potential Hail Mary play. The man did it all.
All this is amazing in its own right. Very rarely does a player in the NFL transcend a game, but Pryor was able to take over the game at times. Unfortunately, his Waterboyesque play was not enough to ensure victory.
Cody Kessler makes the offense work
It is dangerous in Cleveland to say a quarterback had a good day because people try to anoint him the savior of the team. However, Kessler is a good enough option right now for the Browns. Although Kessler is Mr. Right Now, the Browns still need to find Mr. Right at quarterback.
Kessler is accurate and took care of the football for most of the game. He went 21-of-33 for 244 yards passing. The most important stat is the zero in the interception column. Any day a rookie quarterback does not thrown an interception is a good day.
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Related: Cody Kessler showed enough to earn another start
Kessler fits exactly the mold of quarterbacks that succeed in Jackson’s offense. He is a point guard quarterback who reads the defense and distributes the ball. In order for Kessler to be successful in the NFL, he will always need the pieces around him that make him better.
Kessler was helped out tremendously by the performance of Pryor, whose play made the offense more dynamic. With Kessler and Pryor, defenses now have to prepare for two completely different styles of quarterback each week. Pryor, who is a legitimate complimentary quarterback to Kessler, can roll out, throw on the run and is a genuine threat to run the ball at any time.
Combine that with Kessler’s ability to drop back and accurately deliver the ball, and this duo could develop into a formidable option at quarterback.
In an ideal world, the Browns would draft someone who could do both. But for right now, Kessler is a not a bad option.
John Greco stabilized the middle of the offensive line
There is not enough praise in the world to describe the job John Greco did at center. His calm, confident and intelligent play at the position stabilized the middle of the offensive line, and he made the protection calls effectively. Do in part to his stabilizing presence, Ndamukong Suh was a non-factor in the game.
Greco’s replacement at right guard, Alvin Bailey, did a good job in his first start. He was able to contribute significantly in the run game, and while he struggled in pass protection he was helped by Greco in keeping Kessler protected up the middle.
Sadly, the rough times for Austin Pasztor continued. He contributes in the run game but his inability to win in space will ultimately place him back at guard before his career is over. Until then, just hang on for dear life.