Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Browns downed by Packers, playoff hopes alive.

   After Saturday's 24-22 loss by the Cleveland Browns in Green Bay, I vented with an all-Baker Mayfield post with thoughts on number six and decided on a follow-up with other thoughts in a later post.

1)  Chase McLaughlin had been struggling in the kicking game over the last month but his placement on the illness list resulted in a huge loss for the Browns.

It would have been interesting to see how McLaughlin handled Lambeau in light of his problems of the late but at least McLaughlin had some experience in actual games.

2) That left the Browns with untested rookie Chris Naggar from the practice squad to replace McLaughlin.

With the differences in the practice squad requirements in the Covid era, I have thought having a veteran available in the event of a kicking need (especially at kicker) would have made a lot of sense.

Instead, the Browns decided to go with an inexperienced kicker and it bit them with Naggar badly missing the extra point after the Browns first touchdown.

That led to the Browns trying the two-point conversion after their second touchdown, which they failed to convert.

Two points are given away in a game lost by two points. Hmm...

3) Naggar did bounce back in hitting his other extra point and his only field goal attempt from thirty-seven yards away but Naggar's presence was still felt at the end of the game.

On the Browns final drive and needing just a field goal to win, Kevin Stefanski stated that he was playing for a touchdown, not a field goal, and I'd have to think that having Nagger deciding the game rather than McLaughlin was on the mind of Stefanski and how he called the game/

4) In between the Browns loss to the Raiders and their loss in Green Bay, the Browns decided to waive the "Scottish Hammer" Jamie Gillan upon his return from Covid protocol and keep his supposed to be temporary replacement Dustin Colquitt as the regular punter.

Gillan had struggled this season but was quickly signed to Buffalo's practice squad and the unusual thing was that Gillan had won the punting job over Britton Colquitt and lost it to Dustin- Britton's brother.

5)  What I don't understand about this offense?

Yes, the Browns were behind most of the game but never by enough that they had to throw the ball on every down and the running game was unstoppable by the Packer defense.

Nick Chubb finished with 126 yards and a touchdown on seventeen carries and D'Ernest Johnson added fifty-eight more on only seven carries.

SO between Chubb and Johnson, the Browns AVERAGED 7.67 yards per carry and yet you throw the ball thirty-six times with Baker Mayfield?

And considering the lack of big-time targets at wide receiver?

6) Speaking of D'Ernest Johnson, the Browns are going to have a tough decision to make with him.

Johnson has 398 yards on the season on seventy carries which comes out to a 5.7 yards per carry average.

Johnson has made it clear that he is an NFL quality running back but he will be a restricted free agent at the end of the year and will be in line for a large raise from his current 850,000 yearly salary.

Can the Browns match an offer to Johnson from a team that may pay him as a number one running back when Cleveland will still have Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt ahead of him?

That will be a very interesting situation to watch over the off-season.

7) Myles Garrett didn't make an impact on the scoresheet as he notched a single tackle and one hit on Aaron Rodgers but consider the man played on one leg in the game.

Garrett's groin injury suffered against Las Vegas would have likely sidelined him for the Green Bay games and possibly the Pittsburgh games this week as well had it occurred earlier in the season and not in the playoff rush, so give Garrett tons of credit for sucking it up and playing through a tremendous amount of pain.

8) M.J. Stewart played much of the game at safety and it was your good news/bad news scenario.

The good news was that Stewart finished with ten tackles.

The bad news is Aaron Rodgers threw to his man eleven times and completed ten of them.

9) The Browns coverages weren't prepared for Davante Adams, who caught ten of the thirteen passes thrown his way for 114 yards and two scores.

On both scores, Adams used favorable coverage matchups to easily break away from overmatched Browns defensive backs, rookie safety Richard LeCounte received no help on the first Adams score, and M.J. Stewart was just plain beaten on the second.

10) Pass rush stats.

Baker Mayfield was sacked five times while Aaron Rodgers wasn't sacked at all.

Tough to be overly critical with Myles Garrett playing on one leg and Jadeveon Clowney out for the game due to Covid protocol.

11) Even still the Browns can control their own destiny if the Bengals lose to the Chiefs and the Ravens lose to the Rams, both very possible.

Should that happen and then the Browns win in Pittsburgh on Monday night, the Sunday finale against the Bengals in Cleveland would be winner take all for the division title and the playoffs as the losing seems unlikely to make the postseason.

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