The Morning After is our weekly recap of the Browns game from the day prior. For the first two weeks we could re-title this Mourning After. The Browns played poorly on offense, held the defending Super Bowl champs to 14 points and were unable to put the ball in the endzone for a touchdown.
The first half of the game was ugly on the offensive end (second week in a row this starts our recap) for both teams. The Browns looked to capitalize early, following a Ravens missed 50 yard field goal, as Brandon Weeden hit Tight End Jordan Cameron for a 53 yard reception inside of the 10 yard line. Yet the Browns drive stalled out at the 3 with a overthrow of diminutive Devone Bess on 3rd down leading to a field goal. The Browns would not get closer then the 30 yard line for the rest of the game. The Ravens struggled to find any running room in the first half and were forced to punt on their next 4 possessions. Ravens kicker Justin Tucker bookended those 4 punts with missed field goals of 50 and 44 yards. The Browns also punted on their next 4 possessions but those punts were bookended by 2 made field goals by ex-Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff. Cundiff hit from 21 and 51, with the long one coming near the end of the half to give the Browns a 6 – 0 lead going into halftime, with Cleveland receiving the ball after half.
The second half was the turning point of the game. The Browns punted on their first possession of the second half. The Ravens then led a methodical drive down the field combining short runs and passes leading to a Bernard Pierce 5 yard touchdown run. The Ravens converted 3 third downs through the air, all on underneath routes as the Browns looked to takeaway the deep ball. Ray Rice fumbled on the Ravens next possession but the visiting team was unable to move the ball after starting near midfield. Jordan Cameron came up less then a inch short on a fourth down play to give the ball back to the Ravens. After both teams punted to each other the Ravens again took a methodical, underneath passing drive down the field. This drive included 2 third down conversions on underneath throws to keep the drive going. The drive ended with a 5 yard touchdown pass to Marlon Brown, the 6’5″ rookie wide receiver. The Browns were unable to do much on their next possession and Weeden hurt his thumb on a throw by hitting the helmet of a lineman. Jason Campbell replaced Weeden on the Browns’ last possession and showed why he lost the “competition” to Weeden in the pre-season. Campbell looked out of sorts and uncomfortable in the 5 play “drive”. His lone completion was a underhand toss to Cameron on 4th and 10 that went for 6 yards. Game over.
Factory Player (For the Browns’ Star Player of the Game)
Barkevious Mingo – The defense played great again. Mingo, playing in his first game after a bruised lung, recorded a sack on his first NFL play. He also caused 2 holding penalties with his speed. While Mingo is still working into game shape, and was only on the field for a dozen or so plays his skill set jumped off the page. On a screen pass Mingo rushed from Flacco’s blindside. Rice released for the screen on the opposite side of Mingo. When the ball was released from Flacco’s hand Mingo was in the backfield, near the QB, while Rice was 3 yards past the line of scrimmage. Mingo disengaged from his blocker and chased Rice down the field, tackling him for a total of 7 yard gain. Amazing athleticism shown there.
Sadness Player (For the Browns’ Player who Made Fans Sad)
Brandon Weeden – Other players struggled but Weeden’s play continued from last week. While he may not of had great protection or elite receivers Weeden continued to make mistakes on key moments. In fairness he was not terrible as many are saying but his improvements from last year are minimal. The biggest mistake, which we will cover in detail later today, was his missed swing pass to FB Chris Ogbonnaya that would of most likely led to a touchdown as no one was around or in front of him. Weeden also continues to lock in on his receivers and show little touch on his passes, including the miss to Ogbonnaya. The final issue for Weeden is his unwillingness or inability to “throw his receivers open.” Weeden hasn’t shown the ability to lead his receivers with passes that allow them to catch and run with the ball. Often he locks in on a receiver, another problem, and waits for them to get open instead of throwing leading passes. The Ravens secondary is suspect, as shown by the Denver game, outside of Webb and can be thrown on. Weeden hasn’t shown those improvements.
Later today and early tomorrow we will continue our wrap up of Week 2 and then start to spin it ahead to Week 3.