Biggest Takeaways from Cleveland Browns' Week 6 Loss

Andrea Hangst@FBALL_AndreaFeatured Columnist IVOctober 20, 2015

Biggest Takeaways from Cleveland Browns' Week 6 Loss

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    The Browns were so close to handing the Broncos their first defeat of the year. Unfortunately, the Browns ended up losing in Week 6, 26-23, in overtime.
    The Browns were so close to handing the Broncos their first defeat of the year. Unfortunately, the Browns ended up losing in Week 6, 26-23, in overtime.Jason Miller/Getty Images

    The Cleveland Browns were decidedly close to handing the Denver Broncos their first loss of the season on Sunday, but it was not meant to be. Instead, the Browns fell to Denver, 26-23, in overtime. 

    So what did we learn about the 2-4 Browns this week? Here are the biggest takeaways from the Browns' Week 6 meeting with the Broncos. 

TE Gary Barnidge Is the Real Deal

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    Andrew Weber/Getty Images

    The Broncos' vaunted defense did a good job of limiting the number of catches that Browns tight end Gary Barnidge had on Sunday, holding him to just three receptions on his nine targets, for 39 total yards. But they couldn't stop him from getting into the end zone—Barnidge scored two touchdowns against Denver, helping to keep the Browns in the game. 

    On the season, Barnidge is the Browns' second-leading receiver, with 27 catches on 40 targets for 413 yards and five scores. His 19 first downs tie Travis Benjamin for the most on the team, while his 144 yards after the catch are a team-high. The 30-year-old has caught six passes for 20-plus yards on the season and is Pro Football Focus' fifth-ranked tight end in the receiving game.

    Barnidge could do a better job as a run-blocker, to be sure, but the Browns also have two other tight ends—Rob Housler and Jim Dray—along with fullback Malcolm Johnson to aid in those efforts. Barnidge, meanwhile, has been a focus in the passing game and a reliable touchdown scorer for Cleveland.

    Defenses, like Denver's, might be able to limit his catches, but no one has yet been able to keep Barnidge from earning touchdowns, making him easily one of the Browns' most valuable players of the season.

RB Robert Turbin Returns at Right Time

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    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    Browns running back Robert Turbin made his regular-season debut, just over one month since the team claimed him off of waivers from the Seattle Seahawks. The 25-year-old was working his way back from an ankle injury, which is why Sunday marked his first action of the season.

    Turbin wasn't Cleveland's leading rusher on Sunday. That would be rookie Duke Johnson, who had nine carries for a total of 38 yards. He also wasn't as productive as Isaiah Crowell, who had 11 carries for 32 yards.

    But Turbin's 10 rushes for 27 yards were a contribution, to say the least. And with Johnson now dealing with a shoulder injury he suffered in the fourth quarter on Sunday, Turbin could see his role expand.

    It's currently unknown if Johnson's injury is serious or will cost him any playing time, but if it does, the Browns have Turbin back in the fold. It turns out his Cleveland debut happened at the right time.

Browns Handled Denver's Defense Well

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    Andrew Weber/Getty Images

    The Broncos were without star outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware in Week 6, which may be one reason why the Browns offense managed to do such a good job. But regardless of Denver's defensive personnel, the fact remains that the Browns offense was up against one of the stingiest units in the league.

    Cleveland put up 23 points on Sunday, and though six of those were a result of a Karlos Dansby pick-six of Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, it cannot be denied that the Browns did better on offense than anticipated.

    They had 109 rushing yards and 298 total yards. They were two-of-three in the red zone. And though Browns quarterback Josh McCown turned the ball over three times, his team still stayed in this game until the very end. It's a sign that incremental progress is continuing in the Cleveland offense.

Little Things Make a Big Difference

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    James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

    The Browns did a lot of the little things well on Sunday, things that could have easily resulted in Cleveland defeating the Broncos instead of the other way around. But little things also helped doom the Browns in Week 6. 

    There were Josh McCown's three turnovers, including a pick-six by Denver cornerback Aqib Talib. There was head coach Mike Pettine's choice to attempt a two-point conversion after linebacker Karlos Dansby's pick-six of Peyton Manning instead of kicking the extra point.

    There were the back-to-back overtime sacks McCown took that put the Browns outside of field goal range and unable to kick the game-winner. And Cleveland's defense again faltered against the run, giving up 152 rushing yards to the Broncos on Sunday.

    If just one of these things hadn't happened, it's likely that Cleveland would be celebrating a second straight win instead of lamenting yet another loss. Big things can result in a team winning or losing, but so can the little things. What seems innocuous in the second quarter can be a game-deciding play once the final seconds tick down. 

    The Browns were close to a victory on Sunday, but the little mistakes they made were just that more damaging than those the Broncos made.

Trust in K Travis Coons

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    There may have been no higher-impact decision the Browns made against the Broncos than going for two points after Karlos Dansby's pick-six of Peyton Manning rather than attempt the extra point.

    The Browns did not convert on the play, but if they had tried the extra point, it's more than likely that Browns kicker Travis Coons would have made it. And if the remainder of regulation played out exactly as it ended up, Cleveland would have won by one point as a result.

    The lesson: Trust in Travis Coons.

    Including Sunday, the 23-year-old has made all 12 of his field goal attempts this year and all 11 of his extra points. He made a 26-yard field goal against the Broncos and was two-for-two in extra points.

    Unlike other kickers around the NFL who have struggled with the 33-yard extra point as well as making field goals, Coons has been perfect.

    A two-point play has a higher percentage of success than one would typically think, but it's still far less automatic than going for the extra point when you have a kicker who has yet to miss a single attempt.

    The Browns need to go for the surer thing in situations like Sunday's and let Coons kick the extra point.

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