PFF Preview: Browns @ Falcons, Week 12
The Cleveland Browns (6-4) welcome the return of Josh Gordon as they travel to Georgia Dome to face the Atlanta Falcons (4-6). Atlanta is on a two game winning streak after losing five straight and hope to stay in contention in the lowly NFC South, where they are tied with New Orleans. The Browns are looking to bounce back after a sluggish game against Houston last week.
Gordon’s well-publicized suspension, appeal, and reduced game suspension ends this week as his return hopes to open up a Browns offense that has struggled since center Alex Mack was lost for the season due to injury. Last year, Gordon broke several records on his way to a historic year. In just 14 games, he amassed 1,646 yards (first in NFL), averaging 117.6 yards per game (first), a WR Rating of 111.3 (seventh), and 2.68 yards per route run (second), all with Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell throwing him passes. No matter what General Manager Ray Farmer says, expect Brian Hoyer to look for Gordon early and often on Sunday.
The task of covering Gordon is not an easy one, but second year CB Desmond Trufant is Atlanta’s best defensive back grading at +6.8 on 400 coverage snaps this season. Trufant is proving his first-round draft status as he also graded excellent in coverage 2013 at +11.0 on 572 snaps. In 2014, Trufant is giving up just 1.10 Yards Per Cover Snap, closely matching his 1.03 mark last year. While covering Gordon probably won’t be a one-man job, this matchup will be interesting to watch as an up-and-comer will look to prove his talents against the best receiver from a year ago.
Brian Hoyer – Hoyer had the worst game of his career last week grading at -7.6. In his three starts in 2013 with Gordon on the field, Hoyer had a +2.4 PFF grade, an Accuracy Percentage of 71.6, and a PFF QB Rating of 83.7.
Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West – Now a two-headed backfield, Crowell has been a big run threat while West is the shiftier back of the two. Crowell has a 40.5 Breakaway Percentage (and an 8.1 Elusive Rating) while West has 38.8 Elusive Rating (and a 16.2 Breakaway Percentage).
Craig Robertson – When inside linebacker Karlos Dansby hit the turf last week, Robertson took his place as the “quarterback” of the defense. Robertson had a +3.5 PFF grade up until last week but saw his worst game of the year with a -3.4. Robertson’s struggles have been in the run game, with a 4.6 Run Stop Percentage, he has four missed tackles and a 5.3 Tackling Efficiency.
Julio Jones – Jones is tied for the fourth-most drops in the league at seven with a drop rate of 9.46. On the other hand, he is 12th in the NFL at 2.34 Yards Per Route Run, making up for the drops.
Matt Ryan – Most think Ryan is struggling because the team has a losing record. The opposite is true as he is fifth in the NFL with a +18.6 PFF grade, fourth in Accuracy Percentage at 76.8 and sixth in accuracy under pressure at 67.3.
Jonathan Babineaux – Babineaux is coming on of late, grading at +6.0 the past three games. Babineaux is at his best rushing the passer where he was a Pass Rushing Productivity of 9.4 in his last three games, ninth-best in the NFL.
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