Lawyering got in the way of creative blogging this week, so before this week’s contest starts, here are a few things, based on last week’s game, that I’m looking to see as the Browns take on Washington:
I want to see Kessler play the vast majority of the quarterback snaps. Yes, Terrelle Pryor was a crazy man last week, and he deserves every bit of the praise that was heaped on him for playing receiver, running back, quarterback, and safety(?) and playing the first three well. But I want to see more from Kessler. I want to see what happens when he truly finds a rhythm. He started the game in Miami with two fumbles, and he turned over the second one. But the rest of the game was not terrible. I did see a tendency for him to throw the ball low on outside passes, but he had some very nice, accurate throws over the middle that were positioned perfectly to give his receivers the best chance to pick up yards after the catch. I want to see more of that today.
I want to see Hue Jackson call more run plays. Our running backs have been very effective so far this season. Duke Johnson is averaging 6.4 yards a carry through three games, and Isaiah Crowell is currently tied for second in the league in rushing yards. The team ranks fourth overall. Johnson and Crowell are doing a fantastic job of picking up significant yardage on first downs, but on second and short, Hue Jackson has shown a deep commitment to the pass. And I get it–there is little downside in that situation to letting Kessler throw the ball. But maybe, say when the game is on the line in overtime, we should stick with what seems to be working? Just a thought.
I want to see Austin Pazstor and Cody Parkey not suck. I know that sounds harsh, but they had absolutely terrible games in Miami. Right before half with Cleveland in the red zone, Pazstor was called for both a false start and holding, which potentially cost the Browns 4 points when we were forced to settle for a field goal instead of a touchdown. Pazstor started the second half with another false start, and his second and third holding calls came when the Browns were in the red zone and in overtime, respectively. Penalties in crucial moments and a general inability to stop the pass rush made watching Pazstor extremely frustrating last week.
I was astonished when Parkey didn’t get fired after last week’s game, but after thinking about it all week, it makes more sense. Yes, the kid was bad last week. He missed three field goals from 41 yards in the 1st quarter, from 42 yards on first drive of 2nd half, and a heartbreaker from 46 yards at the end of regulation, which sent the Browns into overtime. But here’s the thing (and it’s also the reason–not the money–that the Browns picked him up over an aging Robbie Gould): Parkey is ten years younger and was a Pro-Bowl kicker in his rookie season in Philly. He was injured last season, but if he can get back to his rookie form, the Browns will have gotten a lot for almost nothing. It’s a gamble I’m willing to watch play out.
I want to see Kirksey to continue to grow in his leadership role on defense. This kid is really talented, and he often sets the tone for the entire defense. He kicked off last week’s game with a beautiful run stop for no yards. He also does a nice job in coverage, keeping up well with smaller faster receivers like Jarvis Landry, and he’s effective on the blitz. His pressure forced Tannehill to throw the ball away or led to incomplete passes several times last week. Having a young inside linebacker who can stop the run, cover the pass, and wreak havoc on the blitz is great for the future of this Browns team.
With Williams doubtful and Haden questionable, I want to see our new corners to play more consistently. Jamar Taylor and Briean Boddy-Calhoun both had interceptions in Miami. Taylor’s, however, was one of the only bright spots in his play last week. Later in the first half, he would get called for an illegal contact penalty, still get beat by Kenny Stills, and end up lucky on Tannehill’s overthrow. He’s been in the league long enough to know that if you’re going to draw a flag, you better make it count; better QBs will put that throw on the money. Taylor also gave up the big pass to Landry during overtime that put Miami deep in Browns territory; Miami scored the winning touchdown on the next play. Overall, he wasn’t clutch when we needed him to be.
Boddy-Calhoun had a rough start to last Sunday’s game. The undrafted free agent rookie is small and struggled against the run in the first quarter. He also gave up Miami’s first touchdown to the much bigger DeVante Parker, and got called for holding on the play. I am optimistic about this kid, however, because he plays with a ton of energy and heart. He did not get discouraged, and in the second quarter he came away with a big pick-6. He didn’t play perfectly for the remainder of the game, but I did see an improvement in his run tackling that I hope he can build on this week.
I want to see Emmanuel Ogbah’s first sack. There’s nothing else to say here. I just want to see it.