Monday, October 17, 2016

On The Mark 10.17.16: Cleveland Browns @ Tennessee Titans Recap

Browns close, but still come up short in loss to Titans 28-26
By Mark West, @Markw2112

The Cleveland Browns remain win less in the 2016 season by losing to the Tennessee Titans 28-26 in Nashville.  However, there were more signs that perhaps the Browns aren't as far off to becoming a competitive team.

Starting in his third game, Cody Kessler continues to improve week after week, going 26-of-40 for 306 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was pressured all day long but still able to play at a high level.  He was helped by Terrelle Pryor who had 75 receiving yards and caught both touchdown passes, including 1 in double coverage.  The Browns made a game of it at the end with 2 touchdowns along with a recovered onside kick.  However, they missed the 2 point conversion before the onside kick then were not able to recover a second onside kick, assuring victory to the Titans.

The biggest issue on offense continued to be the running game, with Isaiah Crowell only rushing for 16 yards on 9 carries.  The offensive line, which has been decimated by injury, couldn't get the holes for the running backs nor protect Kessler very well, giving up 6 sacks and allowing Kessler to be hit 5 more times.

Marcus Mariota also had a very solid game for the Titans, going 17-of-24 for 284 yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception.  His biggest pass was to Kenny Wright, who dove for the ball, caught it, then staggered in for the touchdown since the defenders were almost 10 yards from him.  It was not a good day for the Browns secondary who were scorched multiple times by Mariota and his receivers, especially Wright and Rishard Matthews, who had 70 yards receiving a touchdown.  

On a better note, the Browns were able to contain Demarco Murray to 65 yards rushing on 21 attempts.  The longest run attempt they gave up was to Mariota who ran for 41 yards to start the game.  The game also saw Emmanuel Ogbah and Danny Shelton record the first sacks of their careers.

My take:  The Browns, while still without a win, are improving.  Hue Jackson has them playing scrappy and tough.  Cody Kessler, who Jackson said to "trust" him on when he was drafted, has proven to be a young leader at quarterback.  He has improved week after week and while he was hit hard many times on Sunday afternoon, he got back up and almost led the Browns to an improbable tie with 2 touchdown drives at the end of the game.  It's exactly what the Browns have been searching for the last 18 seasons.  The biggest issue for the Browns continues to be the patch work offensive line, with Cam Erving, just coming back from bruised lung, looking lost and allowed Kessler to be hit several times with bad blocking.  The other issue is the young secondary, who continue to give up big plays which cost the Browns the game.  But you can see that there are marked improvements from last year.  It is still a work in progress.

Player of the game:  Cody Kessler, with his 306 yards and 2 touchdowns.  He looks to be a keeper with his accuracy and smart play.

Next Up:  Next Sunday at 1 P.M., the Browns travel to Cincinnati to play the Bengals for the first time this year.  It's the first trip back for Hue Jackson since becoming the Browns head coach.

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