The Cleveland Browns are officially in evaluation mode, and sometimes that gets ugly. On Sunday, they had guys like rookie lineman Garrett Gilkey and wide receiver Brian Tyms playing significant minutes.
This, however, does not excuse poor play from people who have been on the field for most of this season or most of their career.
Once again the defense was ripped apart. This time it was by one of the worst offenses and least productive quarterbacks in the NFL. The New York Jets scored 24 points and finished the game on a 24-3 run.
The good news for Browns fans is that there is only one week left. So hang in there, and in the meantime, let's hand out some grades for Sunday’s 24-13 loss.
As always, weekly grades are handed out based on how much a player impacted the game, if he won his individual battle, whether he was a positive contributor and if he could have performed better.
Let’s see how they did.
Jason Campbell: D-
Chalk it up as back-to-back abysmal weeks for Browns starting quarterback Jason Campbell. Against the 26th-ranked passing defense in the NFL, he managed to go 18-of-39 for 178 yards and one interception.
He finished with a quarterback rating of 48.9.
Some drops early in the game hurt him and the line did not block very well, but Campbell also missed quite a few wide-open receivers.
The interception was the lowest point of the game for Campbell as he stared down wide receiver Greg Little and threw the ball right into the teeth of the zone.
Previous position grades: D+, C+, C+, A, B, D+, F, A, A, D, D, F, A. D+
Chris Ogbonnaya and Edwin Baker: B+
The Cleveland Browns may have found a running back for the 2013 season. It’s unfortunate that there are only two weeks remaining.
Edwin Baker had another stellar game rushing the ball 17 times for 64 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 3.8 yards per carry and showed the same burst we saw against the Chicago Bears awful run defense.
This time, facing the third-best rushing defense in the league, he showed he could stretch the defense to the sidelines as well as take a beating in-between the tackles.
The Browns rushed for 115 yards total.
Previous position grades: C-, C-, D+, B-, B+, B+, D, C-, D, C-, D-, F, D-, B
Josh Gordon, Josh Cooper, Brian Tyms and Greg Little: D
This was a weird game for the wide receivers, as the numbers don’t look horrific but at times the play on the field was.
Josh Cooper, who was filling in for Davone Bess, stepped in admirably and had a great first half. Unfortunately, he faded as the game went on and finished with four catches for 26 yards.
Little dropped an easy touchdown pass, and it resulted in him getting benched for Tyms, who had never caught a ball in the NFL.
Even Josh Gordon, who finished with six catches for 97 yards, had a tough game. He had some drops, did not attack the ball like he normally does and had to be targeted 16 times to get his six catches.
Previous position grades: D, D, A-, B+, A-, C+, D, C, B+, C-, C+, F, A+, C-
Gary Barnidge and MarQueis Gray: D
The absence of Jordan Cameron was a huge detriment to the Browns offense. Gary Barnidge did what he could, catching two passes for 23 yards, but he struggled to get open.
He was targeted just four times.
MarQueis Gray, who I pegged to have a good game, failed to catch a ball despite being targeted four times. A few of those were errant passes by Campbell, but he still failed to make any impact in the game.
Previous position grades: A-, A-, A, A, C+, B, B+, B+, B, C-, D-, F, A+, D+
Joe Thomas, Garrett Gilkey, Alex Mack, Shawn Lauvao, Jason Pinkston and Mitchell Schwartz: D+
After back-to-back solid performances by the line, it once again took a step backward. The unit allowed three sacks, 10 quarterback hits and had Campbell running all game long.
Campbell had two rushes for 21 yards, and they were both out of necessity because he was flushed from the pocket.
Some of that may have to do with the coaching staff inserting rookie Garrett Gilkey at guard. They want to evaluate the young man and seem to believe he could be a starter there in the future.
Previous position grades: F, D+, D+, C+, C-, A-, B, A+, A, D, D+, F, B+, B+
Phil Taylor, Ahtyba Rubin, John Hughes, Armonty Bryant and Billy Winn: D-
This unit is fading quickly and was essentially a non-factor against the Jets. The defense as a whole registered zero sacks and zero quarterback hits.
That is almost impossible.
The Jets entered Week 16 with the second-most sacks allowed by any offensive line. Geno Smith had hit the ground 47 times this season.
The Browns created absolutely no pressure and lost the battle in the trenches on Sunday.
Previous position grades: A+, B-, B-, A-, C+, C+, C+, B+, A, C+, D-, F, B-, C+
Paul Kruger, Jabaal Sheard and Barkevious Mingo: C-
If it were not for the play of rookie Barkevious Mingo early in the game, this unit would have been handed a big old “F” for Sunday's performance.
While it was just two series, Mingo flashed both against the run and the pass. He had a pass defended, a tackle for loss and used an inside power move to collapse a running lane and force the running back into a tackle.
Besides Jabaal Sheard’s one batted pass, he and Paul Kruger were terrible.
Previous position grades: A-, A-, B, B-, C, C+, C+, B+, B, C-, D-, F, A+, B
Craig Robertson and D’Qwell Jackson: D+
I am starting to feel bad for D’Qwell Jackson. He plays well and still gets hit with the bad grade because of Craig Robertson’s inability to defend running backs and tight ends in coverage.
Robertson was helped by tight end Kellen Winslow holding in the first quarter. Otherwise, he would have had a 27-yard reception he allowed to running back Bilal Powell on his resume for Sunday as well.
Previous position grades: B, A-, B-, C+, C-, D-, D-, D, A+, B+, B-, C-, F, C-, D
Buster Skrine, Leon McFadden, Jordan Poyer and Joe Haden: C
It would be tough for me to kill the Browns secondary in this game because Joe Haden was playing through a hip-pointer and Smith threw for just 214 yards.
They were exposed a little in the red zone, however. Haden allowed a touchdown to wide receiver David Nelson on an inside move, and he also beat Buster Skrine for a touchdown late to seal the game.
They also failed to intercept Smith when he had 21 picks entering the game against the Browns.
Previous position grades: C-, C, A, A, A, B-, D+, B, C+, A+, D+, F, C+, C-
Tashaun Gipson and T.J. Ward: D
T.J. Ward was picked on a little in the first half by Winslow but found his footing and shut him down the rest of the game. Unfortunately, he finished with just three tackles.
Tashaun Gipson, on the other hand, had the most bone-headed penalty of the game. Late in the first half he pushed Smith after he ran out of bounds. While the push wasn’t much and Smith did his best acting job, Gipson still has to know better.
It set up the Jets for a field goal before halftime and completed their 10-point second-quarter comeback.
Previous position grades: C+, B, B-, C+, A, B+, B, B-, B, C, C+, F, C, A-
Billy Cundiff, Spencer Lanning, Fozzy Whittaker, Jordan Poyer and coverage units: A
The special teams had probably their most complete game of the season Sunday. Fozzy Whittaker was very good returning kicks. He had three for 92 yards, including a 50-yard return.
Jordan Poyer joined the action with a 29-yard punt return.
Punter Spencer Lanning put two of his three punts inside the 20-yard line and averaged 49 yards per punt.
Previous position grades: C+, C+, A+, D+, A+, B-, B, C, B, D+, C, F, F, C, C