D’Qwell Jackson is a nice IDP asset. (Mark Duncan, Associated Press)
Through Week Five, the Cleveland Browns were 3-2, courtesy of a three-game winning streak. Could they have been headed back to the playoffs for the first time in over a decade (and for only the second time since returning to Cleveland after the first incarnation bolted to B-More)? Um, not so fast.
After Sunday’s 41-20 shellacking at the hands of division and state rival Cincinnati, the Browns have now dropped four of their past five games to find themselves down to 12th in the conference. There is still hope, especially with the two next games at home, but it’s fading with each loss.
The Browns have been asking for a handout from the government to help pay for proposed stadium improvement costs, and that’s been an issue for many local residents.
But at this point, the product on the field is what needs beefing up.
The Browns rank 25th in yards per game (26th in rushing yards per game) and tied for 28th in points per game. Defensively, things are far more promising, as they rank fifth in yards per game, and are in the top eight in both passing yards and rushing yards allowed. Unfortunately, this hasn’t necessarily translated into stopping the opponent from scoring as Cleveland only ranks 17th in points allowed.
Sunday marked the Browns’ chance of coming up big in a big game. With a win, they would have evened their record and moved within a game of the division lead. Instead, they proved they still have a long way to go. Of course, blowing a 13-0 lead by surrendering 31 points in one quarter will do that.
Let’s look at some individual performances that have caught our eye for one reason or another.
- For those in IDP leagues, linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who we recommended a couple of years ago, continues to impress, recording nine combined tackles and one stuff Sunday. He’s tied for seventh in the NFL in tackles and, as you can see in the video below, he’s confident in the Browns’ ability to put Sunday’s stinker in the rear view mirror and get back on track against Pittsburgh.
- Defensive back Joe Haden not only picked off two Andy Dalton passes (one for the first pick-six of his career), but he forced star receiver A.J. Green into one of his worst performances ever, no easy feat considering he had rhymed off a Bengal record five straight 100-yard receiving games.
- Rookie punter Spencer Lanning has been a popular waiver wire pick lately, but he had a rough game, having one punt blocked and returned for a TD and another punt tipped.
- Fullback Chris Ogbonnaya continues to get enough touches (eight carries, 69 yards rushing – including a season-best 43-yard scamper, with six receptions for 30 yards) to make him a waiver wire target, but he had a costly fumble Sunday that was returned for a TD. After being virtually invisible from the Brown running game last year, he’s now up to 170 yards rushing this season.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below whether you think the Browns still have a chance to turn things around and make the playoffs this season.