Quarterback Brandon Weeden was inaccurate and Cleveland's receivers didn't fight for the ball as the Browns allowed their record slip to 3-4.
|Positional Unit||First Half Grade||Final Grade|
Week 7 vs. Packers
Final Game Analysis for the Cleveland Browns
Pass Offense: Brandon “Captain Check Down” Weeden almost exclusively threw the ball no farther than five yards in the air to receivers. Weeden has made no improvement to his decision-making skills or his release speed. He also threw an underhanded toss with less than two minutes remaining that was nearly picked off. It was a déjà vu moment from last Sunday when a similar disastrous attempt was intercepted by Detroit. The quarterback’s ineffectiveness was one of the key factors in today's loss.
Although the majority of the blame goes to Weeden, his receivers didn’t do him any favors. Josh Gordon was smothered all day long, and on several occasions, he didn’t seem to battle for jump balls. With the game out of reach late in the final frame, Greg Little dropped a pass in the end zone that was thrown behind him on fourth down.
Run Offense: Willis McGahee and Chris Ogbonnaya got into a nice groove trading carries into the second half. McGahee finished with 39 yards and Ogbonnaya totaled 15. The team as a whole delivered 83 yards on the ground.
Too bad the passing attack was nonexistent and couldn’t compliment the run.
Pass Defense: The Browns were finally able to catch Aaron Rodgers for a sack in the third quarter. It was a combined effort by Paul Kruger and Chris Owens, but more importantly, it came on third down. A bonus was that Green Bay missed their field-goal attempt. Cleveland continued to struggle in getting off the field on third down as the green and yellow converted on seven of 13 tries.
The front seven did an excellent job during the final three quarters to consistently hurry Rodgers. However, Rodgers is an elite talent and made the necessary adjustments to drive for two fourth-quarter scores.
A shoulder-to-helmet hit by Tashaun Gipson to Green Bay’s Jermichael Finley knocked the dominant tight end out of the game. Cleveland was penalized with a personal foul, but it was a bad call since Gipson did not lead with his helmet as the official stated.
Run Defense: Eddie Lacy rushed for a total of 82 yards, but only 13 of those came in the second half. Green Bay didn’t need to run the ball, though, since they had so much success with their passing attack.
Special Teams: Travis Benjamin scampered back an 86-yard kick return in the fourth. The Browns capitalized on a bullet from Weeden to Cameron in the end zone on another fourth-down attempt. Following the score the Browns attempted an onside kick. Cleveland recovered, but Tank Carder was offside. Incredibly the Browns got possession of the redo, but the ball was touched before it went 10 yards and that meant that the Packers got the football.
Fozzy Whittaker also impressed on a 56-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter, but the game was already decided.
Coaching: Coach Chudzinski decided to go for it again on fourth down instead of taking the field goal with 11:09 remaining in the final quarter. If Chud took the three, the Browns could have tied the game at 17 (if the defense held Green Bay) with a touchdown and two-point conversion. It was a bold, but unnecessary gamble.
Due to the lethargic offense, the Browns felt the need to roll the dice on fourth down five times and were only successful twice. Part of the desperation to create a spark led to running a few Wildcat plays that didn't fool anyone on Green Bay's defense.
Pass Offense: Brandon Weeden got off to an awful start on the first two offensive series. A three-and-out followed by an interception on a 4th-and-1 try. Davone Bess’ drop troubles continued as he let a wide-open pass bounce off his fingertips on the first drive and Josh Gordon had to leave in the second quarter because of a shoulder injury.
Overall Weeden was hurried, made slow decisions, did not set his feet, and was incredibly inaccurate. It was painful to watch as he went 5-for-14 for 48 yards. Weeden's quarterback rating was an embarrassing 16.4 at the half.
Run Offense: Coming into this matchup the Browns had gone 13 consecutive games without rushing for 100 yards. The ground attack did its job and chipped away for a combined 51 yards. Willis McGahee slugged away and averaged 2.9 yards per carry on eight attempts. Fozzy Whittaker, Chris Ogbonnaya and Brandon Weeden also got in on the action.
The problem was that there was no passing threat from Brandon Weeden to help balance out the offense.
Pass Defense: Green Bay’s strategy to use tight end Jermichael Finley as a slot receiver paid off on the team’s first drive as they exposed Browns linebacker Craig Robertson’s pass-coverage weakness. Finley broke three tackles, the first one missed by Robertson, and scored.
The pass rush got some penetration from the midway point of the first quarter onward, however, Aaron Rodgers was always able to avoid the sack and scrambled for 13 yards.
Run Defense: Packers rookie running back Eddie Lacy was running at will all half. Up the middle, around the edge, it didn’t seem to matter. Lacy rumbled for 50 yards.
Missed tackles on all aspects of the defense on plays over the middle was a problem that kept numerous Green Bay drives alive.
Special Teams: A short punt after the Browns’ three-and-out first series gave the Packers excellent field position that resulted in a touchdown. A direct snap to Chris Ogbonnaya on a fake punt was another gamble, but paid off with a first down following a Green Bay challenge.
Fozzy Whittaker was effective in his two kick return tries and brought it back for 31 and 17 yards respectively.
Coaching: Give credit to head coach Rob Chudzinski for trying to get creative and attempt to ignite a spark.
Cleveland went for it on fourth down during the Browns’ second offensive series. It was an odd choice to pass with only a single yard needed and the result was an interception on Weeden. Later in the first quarter Chris Ogbonnaya received a direct snap on a fake punt attempt. The ruling on the field as being a first down was challenged, but was upheld in the Browns' favor.
Andy McNamara is an international sports broadcaster and journalist.
Follow Andy on Twitter @AndyMc81.