Cleveland Browns Week 7 Studs and Duds: D’Ernest Johnson breaks out

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Cleveland Browns

CLEVELAND, OHIO – OCTOBER 21: Head coach Kevin Stefanski of the Cleveland Browns looks on against the Denver Broncos in the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 21, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Browns defeated the Denver Broncos on Thursday night and had some stand-out performances paired with some not-so-good performances. Here are the studs and duds from their victory on Thursday night in primetime.

With an injury report that looked more like a starting lineup, having a player listed at most every position on it, and coming off a short week, the Cleveland Browns avoided a three-game losing streak by defeating the Denver Broncos on Thursday Night Football by a score of 17-14.

Backup quarterback Case Keenum started his first game for the Browns, as did running back D’ernest Johnson, both of whom helped carry the load and helped their team find a way to win on a short week. Their reward includes an extended break before they play again on Sunday in Week 8.

The defense played a much better game than in their previous two competitions, holding the Broncos to only four first downs in the first half. While ultimately allowing 14 points in the second half and making the game look close on the scoreboard, for the majority of the game, there was no doubt who the better team was and who would come out the victor.

As with every game, however, there are also bad performances. Be it by an individual player or a group as a whole, the bad must be pointed out, even after a victory. Here are the studs and duds from the Cleveland Browns victory against the Denver Broncos in Week 7.

Cleveland Browns Stud: Kevin Stefanski, the playcaller

From the outset of the game on Thursday night, Kevin Stefanski knew what he wanted to do with his playcalling. After winning the opening coin toss, he elected to receive the kick and go on offense first, something that almost never happens anymore, except in overtime. What did the Browns do, besides go down the field in five plays and score a touchdown? They set the tone for the rest of the game – we’re going to run, and you aren’t going to be able to stop us.

It was a full-on attack from then on for Stefanski in the ground game, as even without his top two running backs, and starting an undrafted free agent from 2018, the team gashed the Broncos defense for 182 rushing yards. It didn’t matter what running back was in the game, as even backup Demetric Felton and John Kelly, who was elevated from the practice squad for this game, saw success in limited carries.

No matter what Denver tried to do defensively, Cleveland and Kevin Stefanski were one step ahead in their playcalling. Whenever it was needed, a pass from Keenum would provide a spark to the offense and help them sustain drives.

If this is the Stefanski playcalling the Browns get when they have a depleted roster, just wait until their starters are back fully healthy. The rest of the NFL should be put on red alert when that becomes the case, which hopefully is sooner rather than later.

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