Browns vs. Giants: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Cleveland

Mike Hoag@MikeHoagJrCorrespondent IIOctober 7, 2012

Browns vs. Giants: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Cleveland

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    The Cleveland Browns (0-5) lost to the New York Giants (3-2) by a 41-27 margin in their Week 5 matchup at the Meadowlands. After jumping out to a 14-0 lead, the Browns squandered it and allowed the Giants to go off on a 41-13 scoring run.

    Brandon Weeden threw an interception in the end zone and the Giants then took the ball down the field and scored on a 40-yard touchdown run by rookie David Wilson. He did respond with a nice drive against the Giants' prevent defense that ended in a 20-yard touchdown pass to Josh Gordon.

    It was too little too late for the struggling Cleveland Browns.

    Cleveland has now lost its last 11 games, a tie for the worst streak in franchise history.

Brandon Weeden

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    Brandon Weeden: D+

    If you take away the 76 yards from the Cleveland Browns’ final drive against the prevent defense of the New York Giants and the 62-yard touchdown bomb to Josh Gordon, Brandon Weeden had a pretty unremarkable afternoon.

    Both of his touchdowns and 138 yards of Weeden’s performance were accounted for in that specific timeframe.

    The rest of the game was filled with inconsistency throwing the football. Sure, Weeden looked good at times and that shouldn’t be forgotten. Both of his throws to Gordon were perfectly thrown balls and that gets some consideration.

    However, when the game is on the line and the team is driving to get back within striking distance, you CANNOT throw interceptions. Weeden killed momentum twice himself and it killed the Browns’ chances in this one.

Running Backs

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    Trent Richardson: A

    Trent Richardson continued to run hard and leave it all out on the field. His unique combination of size, strength, vision and speed has made him a valuable commodity in the backfield for the winless Cleveland Browns.

    He averaged 4.8 yards per carry and hauled in five receptions for 54 yards to total 135 yards from scrimmage.

    The team’s offensive play-calling and decision making of Pat Shurmur needs to involve him more in short-yardage situations. He has all of the skills to be a third-down back and should get the opportunity to make plays in those clutch situations.

    Chris Ogbonnaya: B

    Third-down back Chris Ogbonnaya did a good job again in his role as the team’s backup running back. He caught three passes, including a huge 38-yard screen pass to total 54 yards on the game. He’s a valuable member of that backfield and has clearly secured himself third-down running back duties.

Wide Receivers

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    Josh Gordon: A

    Josh Gordon ran a beautiful post-corner route that fooled the New York Giants’ secondary and led to an exciting 62-yard touchdown reception to give the Cleveland Browns an early 14-0 edge. His second touchdown of the game came during garbage time but it was a nice reception nonetheless.

    Besides those two touchdowns, Gordon was held catchless in six other targets. That may be a symptom of game-situations but it’s certainly something to be concerned about. Two passes that went Gordon’s way were thrown behind him. One was intercepted and the other was incomplete and would have been ANOTHER touchdown had he been able to coral it.

    Gordon and Weeden need to get in better sync and these two could develop into a very effective combination for the Browns.

    Jordan Norwood: A

    Jordan Norwood stepped up big in the absence of Travis Benjamin and Mohamed Massaquoi. He caught everything that came in his direction, collecting nine grabs for 81 yards on the afternoon.

    After he struggled with drops last week against Baltimore in his first significant action of the season, Norwood stepped up and showed why he went from undrafted free agent to NFL wide receiver with his performance at the Meadowlands.

    Greg Little: D

    Greg Little caught no passes although Brandon Weeden threw for 291 yards. That’s a failure considering Little was perceived to be the team’s No. 1 wide receiver coming into the year.

    He only had two targets throughout the game and couldn’t haul either of them in. One may have been a drop as it went right through his hands on a slant pattern. There was coverage draped all over him on the play.

Tight Ends

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    Jordan Cameron: C+

    Jordan Cameron had a couple nice grabs and was only targeted twice on the afternoon. His second catch came during the Cleveland Browns’ final drive that was executed against the New York Giants’ prevent defense.

    Benjamin Watson: C-

    Benjamin Watson had one pass intercepted that was thrown in his direction and failed to haul in another. He caught one short pass and was otherwise ineffective.

    He had a holding penalty called against him after Trent Richardson bounced the ball to the outside—the opposite direction of where he was blocking his man.

Offensive Line

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    Joe Thomas and Mitchell Schwartz: A-

    Joe Thomas and Mitchell Schwartz played and excellent game against a very talented New York Giants pass rush. Both Thomas and Schwartz handled Jason Pierre-Paul for much of the game and kept rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden upright.

    He wasn’t sacked once in the game.

    Thomas also laid into Pierre-Paul and put him on his back with a huge pancake block that had to get you fired up.

    Jason Pinkston, Alex Mack and Shawn Lauvao: B+

    The interior of the Cleveland Browns offensive line played well in the team’s loss to the New York Giants. Trent Richardson gained a lot of his yards from his athletic ability but the line held their blocks and opened some holes including a wide-open lane that led to Richardson’s 15-yard run up the middle of the Giants d-line for a score.

Defensive Line

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    Jabaal Sheard: D+

    Jabaal Sheard was absent from this game as the New York Giants had their way with the Cleveland Browns defense. He ended with three tackles but was continually handled on the edges.

    Ahtyba Rubin: C

    Ahtyba Rubin had the best day for the Cleveland Browns defensive line. That isn’t saying much.

    He finished being involved in on five tackles and ended up leaving the game with an injury on the final series of the game.

    Billy Winn: C

    Billy Winn got the only pressure of the day on Eli Manning but was otherwise ineffective for the rest of the game. He finished with two solo tackles.

    Frostee Rucker: D+

    Like his opposite, Frostee Rucker failed to make any type of impact on this game by establishing the edge of getting after Eli Manning. It was a step back for Rucker and the line as a whole as the team was beginning to look much better along the line-of-scrimmage early on in the season.

    John Hughes: C-

    It’s hard to give anyone on this line a passing grade for their performance but Hughes did okay in his relief duties.


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    D’Qwell Jackson: INCOMPLETE

    D’Qwell Jackson left the game in the second quarter with a head injury. He recorded no tackles during his time on the field.

    L.J. Fort: C+

    L.J. Fort filled in for D’Qwell Jackson and packed up the tackles as the middle linebacker for the Browns’ defense. Nobody else was making any plays and Fort went out and did what he had to to try to keep things close for the Browns.

    Ultimately his efforts were futile as the team’s pass rush and secondary were atrocious.

    Kaluka Maiava: D+

    Kaluka Maiava was a ghost on the edges for the Cleveland Browns defense. He didn’t make any significant plays and was continually taken out of plays by linemen and tight ends getting to the second level.

    Scott Fujita: C

    Like Maiava, Scott Fujita was also absent from the action on the edges. When the Browns were playing their base defense, the Giants were running the football and passing with ease.  It was even worse when they were in the nickel but Fujita wasn’t playing in those situations.

    Craig Robertson: C

    Like Fort, Craig Robertson was very active in the tackling department. He played a lot of nickel sets and was often in on plays that had already developed and succeeded rather than stuffing those plays in the backfield or holding them to a minimal gain.

Defensive Backs

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    Buster Skrine: D+

    New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning knew he was going to have a big day when looking at his matchup. He chose to not just pick on Buster Skrine but the entire Cleveland Browns secondary in this one.

    Skrine had a rough go of it in this one but did show continued heart and determination. That counts for something.

    He nearly picked off an Eli Manning fade for Reuben Randle in the near-corner of the end zone. Randle had to take on the role of defensive back because of Skrine’s excellent position on the play.

    Dimitri Patterson: D-

    Dimitri Patterson was getting beat like he stole something by Victor Cruz prior to leaving the game with an ankle injury. On one New York Giants touchdown, he was lined up covering Cruz in the slot when Cruz leaked towards the back-corner of the end zone.

    Patterson didn’t think it’d be a good idea to cover him and bit on the play-fake. Cruz scored uncontested.

    It was another rough game for Patterson and now that he’s slowed by an ankle injury things could get even worse for the Browns secondary.

    Sheldon Brown: C-

    Sheldon Brown was benefit by Eli Manning’s choice to assault Buster Skrine and Dimitri Patterson. If and when he chose to go at Brown he didn’t have much of a hard-time executing.

    Brown pass interfered with a Manning pass for Victor Cruz and then stripped the ball out. It popped up and landed in Usama Young’s hands for a Browns’ interception.

    Trevin Wade: F

    Like Dimitri Patterson, Trevin Wade—who replaced him in the fourth quarter, was beat deep for a Victor Cruz touchdown. It’s hard to blame the rookie Wade more than Patterson but he’s got to be better than that when employed into action.

    Usama Young: B

    Cleveland Browns’ safety Usama Young tied a career high with 10 tackles and also returned an interception to the New York Giants

    It was Young’s first interception since September 18, 2011 against the Indianapolis Colts.

    Overall he played a good game and was clearly the most aggressive player on the Browns’ defense. When your free safety is making all of the plays, there’s something wrong with your front seven, though.

    T.J. Ward: C

    For a second consecutive game T.J. Ward was limited to a sub-par performance.

    In the first quarter, he stepped up to take on Ahmad Bradshaw and whiffed bad as Bradshaw sidestepped him and took the ball inside the Browns’ 10-yard line.

Special Teams

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    Phil Dawson: A

    Phil Dawson continued his streak of eight consecutive field goals made this season. He nailed two of them and is the most consistent player for the Cleveland Browns this season.

    Josh Cribbs: C+

    Josh Cribbs was blindsided from behind and lost a fumble for the second consecutive week. However he had a couple of nice kick returns to try to make up for it.

    His 74-yard return in the second half set up a Cleveland Browns field goal after the team failed to record a first down despite the excellent field position Cribbs handed them.

    Reggie Hodges: C+

    Reggie Hodges only punted three times in this one. That’s significantly less action than he’s accustomed to seeing due to the ineptitude of the Cleveland Browns offense. He averaged 48 yards per punt and didn’t really do anything that affected the game one way or the other.

    Tank Carder: F

    The undrafted free agent deserves mention for the bone-headed offsides penalty against him during a New York Giants punt. His error gave the Giants back the football in the fourth quarter.


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    Entire Cleveland Browns Coaching Staff: D

    Pat Shurmur and his coaching staff should start planning for their careers after Cleveland after the fifth consecutive loss of the season.

    It’s only a matter of time before new owner Jimmy Haslam examines the situation and decides the philosophy and personnel management of these coaches isn’t getting the job done.



    Mike Hoag Jr. is a Breaking News Team writer with Bleacher Report and also covers the NFL and the Cleveland Browns for the site.