Cleveland Browns: 5 takeaways from the loss to the Dolphins
The Cleveland Browns found a way to lose a close game for the second week in a row. Here are five takeaways from the overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins.
The Cleveland Browns gave their fans a surprisingly enjoyable afternoon on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.
The Browns ultimately lost the game in overtime on an 11-yard touchdown run by Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi, but the fact that they were even in overtime to begin with was a surprise.
The Dolphins looked to be in control after Damien Williams caught a 10-yard scoring pass from Ryan Tannehill at the beginning of the fourth quarter to take a 24-13 lead. But the Browns came back to tie the game and actually had a chance to win it in regulation, but kicker Cody Parkey missed a game-winning field goal at the end of the fourth quarter.
Here are five takeaways from a game that left the Browns with an 0-3 record.
Terrelle Pryor’s Big Day
Cleveland wide receiver Terrelle Pryor made Hard Rock Stadium his personal playground on Sunday.
Pryor had a career high eight receptions for 144 yards, rushed four times for 21 yards and a touchdown, and completed three passes for 35 yards.
Add it all up and Pryor accounted for 200 of the 430 yards of total offense that the Browns put up against the Dolphins.
— NFL (@NFL) September 25, 2016
While we’re not so sure about lining Pryor up at quarterback – the Dolphins didn’t really seem to be worried about him passing the ball – he did everything he could to bring the big play back to the Browns offense. And he did it without the help of Corey Coleman (out with a broken hand) and Josh Gordon (suspended).
Pryor’s big day gives fans hope that, if nothing else, the offense can still be something fun to watch.
Cody Parkey’s Forgettable Day
It has been four years since Phil Dawson last kicked for the Browns (thanks, Joe Banner!) and the team is still searching for a reliable kicker.
That search may begin anew this week after the day that Cody Parkey had on Sunday.
Parkey, a former Pro Bowl kicker with the Philadelphia Eagles, missed field goals of 41 yards, 42 yards and, at the end of regulation, a 46-yarder that would have won the game.
“I know everybody will say it came down to the field goals, but I’m not going to put that kind of pressure on Cody,” head coach Hue Jackson said. “Cody just got off a plane with us and I don’t know him as well as I know this chair right now.”
It is admirable that Jackson would not throw Parkey to the wolves – it is a team game after all – but no one will be surprised if the Browns announce they have signed a new kicker around Wednesday or Thursday.
Cody Kessler’s Average Day
We’ve been down this road before with the Browns and their rookie quarterbacks (see, McCoy, Colt, 2010).
They are forced to start, look OK while doing it, and then people start talking themselves into the idea that the Browns have finally “found” a quarterback.
Kessler wasn’t necessarily bad against the Dolphins, but he wasn’t necessarily good either. He finished the day 21-of-33 for 244 yards, but took three sacks and fumbled the ball twice, losing one of them.
Kessler looks DEEP into the end zone…
— NFL (@NFL) September 25, 2016
The Browns were also just 4-of-15 on third down.
The biggest thing the Kessler did not do is get the Browns into the end zone. Cleveland’s two touchdowns came on an interception return by defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun and a touchdown run by Pryor when he was the quarterback.
Other than that it was all field goals with Kessler at quarterback, which is a problem that has dated back to the start of last season. Unless Josh McCown is at quarterback, the Browns have troubled scoring touchdowns on offense.
Austin Pasztor’s Really Bad Day
Probably not enough was made of Hue Jackson’s decision to name Austin Pasztor the starting right tackle following preseason.
Pasztor struggled during the preseason and hasn’t been much better in the first two games of the season. And those struggles hit a new level on Sunday.
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The fifth-year pro was hit with five of the Browns 13 penalties on the day, earning three false starts and two holding calls as he struggled to figure out what to do with Miami’s Cameron Wake.
Things are particularly bad on consecutive drives at the end of the second quarter and the start of the third.
Leading 13-10 and with a chance to put additional points on the board before halftime, the Browns drove to a first down at the Miami 20-yard line with 1:10 remaining on the clock. But a false start on Pasztor on first down and a holding call three plays later helped push the Browns back to the 35-yard line. Rather than possibly getting a touchdown, the Browns settled for a 48-yard field goal by Parkey.
Then on the opening drive of the third quarter, the Browns had a second-down play at Miami’s 15-yard line but another holding penalty on Pasztor pushed the Browns back to the 25-yard line. The drive would eventually end with Parkey missing a 42-yard field goal.
Cleveland drafted Shon Coleman with the idea that he would take over at right tackle, but he has yet to play while recovering from off-season knee surgery. The fact that no one ever mentions Coleman makes you wonder if his injury was worse than the Browns realized when they drafted him.
The Running Game’s Solid Day
The Browns actually were able to get things done in the running game against the Dolphins.
Isaiah Crowell rushed 15 times for 79 yards with a long run of 25 yards, while Duke Johnson rushed 10 times for 69 yards with a long run of 17. Put it together and the Browns got 5.92 yards per carry from their two main running backs.
Which raises the question of why the Browns threw the ball 38 times – especially given that the quarterbacks where Kessler and Pryor.
Part of that was the need to comeback from the 11-point deficit, but the play calling was still questionable, especially in overtime.
After taking over on their own nine-yard line needing nothing more than a field goal to win, the Browns ran the ball on first down for nine yards and then passed on five consecutive plays. It wasn’t until they faced a third-and-28 that they ran the ball again.
Why Jackson would put the game in the hands of a rookie quarterback rather than try and pound the ball on a tiring Miami defense is a mystery.