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Eagles vs Browns: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Cleveland

Mike HoagCorrespondent IIOctober 8, 2016

Eagles vs Browns: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Cleveland

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    The Cleveland Browns lost to the Philadelphia Eagles by a final score of 17-16.

    In a game that nobody picked the Browns to even be competitive, they held tough until the final minute of the game.

    The defense forced five turnovers and, for the most part, kept the highly explosive Eagles offense in check for most of the day.

    Michael Vick, despite throwing four interceptions, led a John Elway-esque drive in the final minutes of the fourth quarter to take a late lead and seal the win for the Eagles.

    Cleveland Browns' first-round draft picks Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson were both unimpressive in their opening performances.

    Weeden recorded a 5.1 passer rating while throwing four interceptions on 12-of-35 passing for 118 yards.

    Richardson managed just 2.1 yards per carry in an offense that seemed committed to throwing against one of the most talented pass defending teams in the NFL.

Quarterback

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    Brandon Weeden: F

    There hasn’t been a performance as bad as Weeden’s opening day blunder in recent memory. Weeden couldn’t do very much effectively, unless throwing the ball to the Eagles secondary counts.

    He finished with a 5.1 passer rating and could not make things happen despite pretty good pass protection.

    There were throws he missed that you just have to make as an NFL quarterback. He missed them badly.

    In addition to poor throws, Weeden lost the handle on a hand-off attempt and looked shaky taking snaps from center as the game progressed.

    It’s too early to throw the book on Weeden and blame this loss entirely on his poor play. However, he isn’t and shouldn’t be given a pass for the atrocious display he put on Sunday afternoon.

Running Backs

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    Trent Richardson: D

    Richardson’s first performance showed no signs that the rookie is ready to be a big time running back at the NFL level.

    Blame the offensive line, blame the play calling, but Richardson did not demonstrate he has the ability to see creases in the defense and exploit them. On the other side of the ball, LeSean McCoy demonstrated that vision and patience that Richardson still needs to develop.

    However, he did lay a big hit on Kurt Coleman early on that knocked his helmet off. While it’s good to see the power he has, one exciting play sadly doesn’t change the facts. He finished with a 2.1 yards per carry average, amassing only 39 yards on 19 carries.

    Brandon Jackson: B

    Jackson was minimally involved in the offensive game plan. He had no carries but hauled in a couple nice receptions out of the backfield.

    Owen Marecic: F

    Marecic dropped a wide open flare on a third-and-short play action pass. He finished with no receptions on two targets.

Wide Receivers

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    Greg Little: D

    Greg Little dropped a hard slant at the was then tipped in the air and intercepted by Kurt Coleman. As he did in the preseason, Little struggled to get separation and on the same page with rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden.

    Mohamed Massaquoi: B

    Massaquoi hauled in just three of his eight targets but can hardly be blamed for the errant throws of Brandon Weeden. He made a nice move along the sideline in the first quarter and was overthrown by Weeden after getting wide open in the corner of the end zone.

    Josh Gordon: B

    Gordon, who didn’t have nearly as many snaps as his counterparts, looked good in hauling in two of the four passes thrown his way. He also showed some good athleticism and an ability to run after the catch.

    Hopefully Gordon will be factored more into the game plan moving forward after this week’s showing.

    Travis Benjamin: C

    Benjamin caught an early pass and then displayed his electrifying speed with a 35 yard run on a double reverse.

    Twice he was targeted along the sideline but was unable to separate from a much taller Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie leading to two interceptions.

    He had one drop on the game.

Tight Ends

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    Benjamin Watson: C

    Watson was only targeted twice but did a decent job, catching both of those passes. He was quiet and didn’t seem to be a big part of the game plan other than chipping the edge rushers of the Eagles.

    Alex Smith: C

    Like Watson, Smith hauled in his only target of the afternoon. Also like Watson, he was busy on the edges helping chip and prevent the Eagles’ pass rush from getting to Weeden.

Offensive Line

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    Joe Thomas: C+

    Thomas was beat by Trent Cole leading to a strip of Weeden while throwing. He was also beat a second time but did a good job for the most part in preventing the big play by the Eagles pass rush.

    Like the rest of the offensive line, Thomas, who isn’t known for his run blocking ability, wasn’t ability to move the defense and make holes for Richardson.

    Jason Pinkston, Alex Mack and Shawn Lauvao: B-

    The middle of the Browns’ offensive line held sturdy in passing situations but were unable to move the front seven of the Eagles. This stifled the Browns’ ability to run the football and put them in a one-dimensional position.

    Mitchell Schwartz: C

    Schwartz was, for the most part, effective in containing Jason Babin off the edge. Babin did finish with a sack and three hits on Weeden, though.

Defensive Line

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    Billy Winn: B

    Winn played well for his first pro start. He had a nice tackle for loss and effectively shot the gaps on the offensive line to help disrupt the play development of the Eagles.

    Frostee Rucker: B+

    Frostee Rucker had a big pass deflection in the third quarter and did a decent job setting the edge and providing pressure on Vick. He only recorded three tackles but was involved in the backfield and was a large proponent of the defense’s success.

    Ahtyba Rubin: B

    Rubin had a good day clogging up the middle but had a key penalty in the fourth quarter for roughing the passer that helped move the chains for the Eagles and was a definite difference maker.

    He also forced a fumble on Michael Vick near the end of the game with a big hit, but Vick endeed up falling on it before the Browns could get it.

    Jabaal Sheard: B

    Sheard wasn’t a deciding factor in this one. He did create pressure on Michael Vick, though, despite not being able to get to the quarterback and finish him for a sack.

    It’s hard to complain with the results, though. Vick struggled and threw four interceptions due to the heat created by the front four of the Browns defense and the blitz packages of Dick Jauron.

Linebackers

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    Kaluka Maiava—C

    Maiava started and ended up with six tackles and one pass deflection. While he did accumulate some good stats, the knock on him that he is slow and doesn’t set the edge well seemed to be present on Sunday.

    Several times he was unable to close quick enough to prevent LeSean McCoy from getting to the second level and across the edge.

    Craig Robertson—A-

    Robertson played tough and stood his own, getting his first start at linebacker in the NFL. He got pressure on Vick in blitz situations and picked him off once.

    He was all over the field and had a team high eight tackles with one hit on Michael Vick. He batted down two of Vick’s passes as well.

    D’Qwell Jackson—A

    Jackson wasn’t his usual tackling machine self, but he was very active in pass coverage. He batted down two Michael Vick passes, one led to L.J. Fort’s interception.

    The Browns’ starting middle linebacker also took back an interception for a touchdown, the Browns’ only score of the game.

    L.J. Fort—A-

    Fort had a chance to end the game as a Michael Vick pass fell through his hands in the end zone. It’s hard to penalize him too much for that, for what was otherwise an impressive performance.

    He finished with an interception, a sack, two pass deflections and a tackle for a loss on a third-and-short situation.

    Not bad for an undrafted free agent.

Defensive Backs

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    Joe Haden: B+

    Joe Haden had his ups and downs Sunday afternoon but made plenty of plays to even things out. He was beat early three times by DeSean Jackson and once by Jeremy Maclin for a touchdown.

    However, he recovered by returning an interception 49 yards off of an Eagles’ wide receiver’s finger tip.

    He got better in the second-half, though. He went stride-for-stride down the sideline as Vick attempted to find DeSean Jackson in the end zone and also got a finger on a pass to Jeremy Maclin in the end zone.

    Buster Skrine: C-

    Skrine played a lot in this one after the injury to Sheldon Brown. He was beat for bomb to Jeremy Maclin before end of first half that set up the Eagles first touchdown.

    He was active in tackling and had a nice pass deflection in the fourth quarter. For every good play, though, Skrine was beat by the more seasoned Jeremy Maclin.

    Dimitri Patterson: B

    Patterson, for the most part, played decent coverage as the nickel corner for the Browns on most downs. He was even better as a tackler and laid a big hit down on Jeremy Maclin that sent him to the locker room.

    The hit stopped an Eagles’ drive and came on a short pass to Maclin on a third-and-short situation.

    Sheldon Brown: Incomplete

    Brown had three tackles before colliding with LeSean McCoy and being sent to the locker room with a shoulder injury.

    He did not return.

    T.J. Ward: A+

    T.J. Ward played a heck of a game for the Browns’ defense. He forced a fumble on LeSean McCoy in the early going and also recorded an 11 yard sack on Michael Vick.

    He also tied Craig Robertson with a team high eight tackles.

    Eric Hagg: C

    Hagg struggled at times with his tackling and was out of position a few times in coverage. However, he did make some decent plays in blitz opportunities and defended a pass from Michael Vick.

Special Teams

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    Josh Cribbs: A

    As expected, Cribbs was not a factor in the offensive game plan. He did, however, show up big for the Browns in the return game.

    He was a busy man and had three kick returns for 91 yards while returning six punts for 78 yards.

    Phil Dawson: A

    Dawson, as usual, was perfect. He connected on 3-of-3 in field goal attempts and chipped in his only extra point attempt.

    Reggie Hodges: A

    Hodges punted seven times with a 44 yard average. Three of those punts landed inside the 20, with an additional being moved from the five yard line due to a kick catch interference call. None of his punts were returned for a significant amount.

Coaches

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    Pat Shurmur: D

    There isn’t much to say about Pat Shurmur other than he was a big disappointment.

    He tried to challenge and unchallengeable play and failed to craft a game plan that would help utilize Trent Richardson more effectively.

    D’Qwell Jackson took an interception back for a fourth quarter touchdown and the Browns led by a 15-0 margin. Shurmur elected to kick the extra point and give the Eagles a chance to score and take the lead.

    In Shurmur’s defense, there was more than 10 minutes left to play at that point.

    Still, the Browns’ offense was horrid and his play calling down the stretch screamed that he was playing “not to lose” rather than giving his offense a chance to move the chains and get into field goal range.

    Dick Jauron: A+

    Jauron used a lot of different types of blitzes in order to keep the pressure on Michael Vick. He channeled the knowledge he had from coaching with Andy Reid’s team and put together and effective game plan that hampered the explosive Eagles offense.

    Chris Tabor: A

    For all of the flack I’ve given Chris Tabor and his special teams unit, the squad put together a solid performance.

    You never hear about the special teams coach until something goes horribly wrong.

    Tabor wasn’t mentioned once on Sunday as the team performed perfectly. Good enough to keep the Browns in the game.

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