CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Penalties, dropped passes, blown assignments, mistakes galore.
Just another fun-filled afternoon of Cleveland Browns football.
Andy Dalton and the previously winless Cincinnati Bengals looked like Super Bowl contenders in the first half that saw him complete 17 of his first 18 passes for 215 yards and 3 touchdowns to lead 21-0 at intermission. Dalton finished the day completing 25 of 30 passes for 286 yards with 4 touchdowns and a rating of 146.0.
The Browns were left laying flat on their face.
Here’s a look at the good and a ton of bad from Sunday’s fourth loss to start the season.
– Emmanuel Ogbah – Ogbah blew by the right side of Cincinnati’s line to knock the football from Dalton’s hand, then got up and landed on the loose football to end Cincinnati’s first offensive series. Ogbah stripped running back Jeremy Hill on the next series but the Bengals fell on the loose ball to prevent a second turnover in as many possessions. Ogbah limped off with trainers on Giovani Bernard’s 61-yard catch-and-run on a screen pass that went for a TD and 21-0 lead but he returned in the second half. A sack, 2 forced fumbles, a recovered fumble and 6 tackles made for a solid afternoon for Ogbah.
– Avoiding the shutout – Kevin Hogan relieved DeShone Kizer in the fourth quarter and led a 12-play, 63-yard scoring drive to avoid the first shutout since being blanked 30-0 on Dec. 14, 2014 against the Bengals at home. Duke Johnson scored from 1 yard out with 1:54 to play in the game. Receiver Kasen Williams drew a pass interference on fourth-and-goal in the corner of the endzone on cornerback William Jackson and tight end David Njoku also drew a PI to keep the drive alive.
– Duke – Duke Johnson was the lone individual bright spot on offense. He caught 9 of 10 targets for 47 yards and he ran for 13 yards and a score on 4 carries. Pretty pathetic when the leading receiver on the team for the second straight week and the entire season doesn’t even play the position.
– The Browns offense – They did nothing Sunday and the ineptitude was mind numbing considering Hue Jackson is supposed to be the offensive mastermind. Following Ogbah’s recovery Isiah Crowell netted 0 yards on 2 carries – gained 5 on first down, lost 5 on second down before Kenny Britt, who was flagged for a false start on third down on the opening offensive series, slipped on a sideline route coming back for the football which was also thrown low by Kizer. Rookie kicker Zane Gonzalez then hooked the ensuing 48-yard field goal wide left and that was the afternoon in microcosm.
Their possessions Sunday (plays-yards-result): 3-7-punt, 4-0-missed field goal, 6-16-punt, 10-49-interception, 3-2-punt, 4-18-Halftime, 3-2-punt, 5-17-punt, 9-25-on downs and 3-3-punt before the meaningless scoring drive.
DeShone Kizer finished 16 of 34 for 118 yards with an interception and a 43.5 rating before mercifully being pulled in the fourth quarter with 6:42 left.
Jackson not only needs help on the field in the form of tangible talent to work with but maybe he could use some help off of it in the form of an offensive coordinator because the constant disorganization and dysfunction on that side of the ball on gamedays is getting old.
– Special teams – The Gonzalez miss, Adam Jones returned a 53-yard punt 40 yards to the Browns’ 35 which set up Cincinnati’s first touchdown of the day and set the tone for a long afternoon. Cincinnati averaged 12.2 yards on 6 punt returns boosted obviously by the Jones’ run. Jabrill Peppers totaled 4 yards on 3 punt returns but the rookie did total 116 yards on 5 kickoff returns for an average of 23.2 per return.
– Britt’s Stonehands – Receiver Kenny Britt had 1 highlight – a 26-yard catch-and-run early in the second quarter but that was about it. Britt had a false start on the first third-down of the day, slipped on a comeback route on the next third down (which came on the next offensive series) and didn’t make the catch on the low ball. Bengals safety Clayton Fejedelem intercepted a pass from Kizer that went through Britt’s hands and deflected off his chest. Britt finished the day with 3 catches out of 8 targets for 53 yards.
– The receivers – Again not enough production from the position to help Kizer. This week Britt (8 targets, 3 rec. 52 yards), Ricardo Louis (9 targets, 5 rec. 64 yards), Kasen Williams (2 targets, 0 and 0) and Rashard Higgins (4 targets, 0 and 0) combined for 23 targets, 8 catches and 116 yards.
– Big picture – When a fan jumping from the stands onto the field and being tackled by police is the highlight of the afternoon, it’s time to just pack the bags. The Browns, who are 1-19 under Hue Jackson, enter week 5 winless and without ever having a lead at any point this season. We all assumed last year’s 0-14 start was rock bottom for the franchise but it’s clear that they are still riding the demon drop straight down the elevator shaft with no end in sight.