AFC North: Ravens use Voodoo, join Browns, Bengals on top
Deserving or not, the Baltimore Ravens are co-residents of the AFC North penthouse with the Browns and Bengals, with the Steelers occupying the cellar.
Cleveland Browns fans may pass out from disgust after the Ravens had three miracles in a row to edge the lowly Detroit Lions, 19-17, to join the Browns and Cincinnati, tied for first place in the AFC North with two wins versus one defeat.
Probably we should not complain. Yes, it’s early, but being tied for first place has a great feeling, even if the Browns are forced to share the penthouse with the arch-rival Baltimore Ravens, and the up-and-coming Cincinnati Bengals.
Cleveland finally put together a superior defensive performance after a lackadaisical showing against the weak Houston Texans. Do you remember when Gregg Williams used to make safety Jabrill Peppers play like 25 yards behind the line of scrimmage in order to make sure he would never ever get beat deep?
It kind of looked like the entire secondary was filled with clones of Jabrill Peppers versus the Texans, over-respecting the Texans and allowing short passes all game long.
This was corrected versus the Bears. They decided to turn up the heat against rookie Justin Fields. Clueless offensive guru Matt Nagy decided to play the entire game with a five-man front, sending four wide receivers in an attempt to baffle and amaze the Browns offense. The Bears have a tight end in Cole Kmet, who is used almost exclusively as a pass receiver.
By this fan’s count from reviewing the game film, Kmet helped out in pass blocking only twice, and on one of those helpful occasions, he gave up a sack. They used to call this four-receiver, one-back formation the “Run-and-Shoot,” formation, but defensive specialist Buddy Ryan, the architect of the 1985 Chicago Bears defense, used to call it the “Chuck-and-Duck.” You saw why.
No doubt you are aware that Myles Garrett set a new record with 4.5 sacks of Justin Fields. But let us not overlook that Jadeveon Clowney also turned in an All-Pro caliber performance with five quarterback hits, two sacks, and two tackles for loss. It’s insane that he could have a day like that and not even get talked about because of the record-setting performance of his buddy Garrett on the other side.
In social media, recycled veteran Jason Peters has been blamed for Garrett’s numbers. However, Germain Ifedi gave up two sacks on the other side, so it’s not like he was the Rock of Gibraltar and it was only Peters that was struggling. No, the Browns are to be credited with a solid team effort all the way around.
Rookie Jeremiah Owusu Koramoah was another player who made astonishing plays in this game, coming from out of nowhere to take down Fields in the first quarter, getting credit for half a sack as Garrett completed the sack.
Many Browns fans love JOK because of the special attachment we have in Northeast Ohio to the University of Notre Dame. That’s impressive in its own right. But he also is an international star.
Take a minute to reflect on how many people his life may touch, not only in the country of Nigeria but perhaps in an entire continent via NFL Africa. It’s rather mind-boggling, and he is just getting started. In any case, David Montgomery and Justin Fields had their minds boggled a few times on Sunday.
It looked like the Browns were going to put some distance between themselves and the Baltimore Ravens, as the Lions looked like they were going to pull off the upset.