ReFo: Browns @ Packers, Week 7
This one was over quickly as the Packers took an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back en route to their fourth win on the season. Green Bay also received some help with the two other NFC North teams losing their Sunday games, which should make things interesting for their next two, both divisional matchups and both in primetime.
On the other side, the Browns sputtered on offense and are now nursing a two game losing streak, though they’re still not out of it in their division. With a tough schedule ahead, it doesn’t look promising, however.
Let’s take a look at some of the performances that stood out in this game.
Cleveland – Three Performances of Note
It isn’t Brandon Weeden’s decision making, as was the case on his first quarter interception, that’s the most concerning when you watch him. Rather it’s his accuracy on relatively simple, open throws. On Cleveland’s second offensive play, Weeden’s miss on an out to Greg Little was the difference between a manageable third-and-short and the third-and-long, which they didn’t convert. On the play before his interception (1Q, 9:40), he overthrew his target in the flat on 3rd-and-1, setting up a high-pressure fourth down play. He was at his worst early on with a handful of passes (1Q 14:15, 1Q 3:38, 1Q 2:14, in addition to the aforementioned plays) helping to stall the Cleveland offense and give the Packers an early advantage.
With their defense, Cleveland doesn’t necessarily need a Hall of Fame caliber player behind center. They at least need someone who doesn’t consistently miss short, easy passes, some of which you’d expect a high school QB to comfortably make. Weeden did make a few impressive plays, including on his fourth quarter touchdown to Jordan Cameron, but otherwise was far too inconsistent – as evidenced by his 3.5 YPA and 40.5% completion rate – and consequently the Browns were never much of a threat on the road against a good Packer team.
Robertson Struggles in coverage
He didn’t get picked on often, but Craig Robertson had a rough day in coverage when the ball did go his way. On Green Bay’s second offensive play, the linebacker bit hard on a play action fake, allowing Jermichael Finley to get behind him on a crossing route for a big gain. Later on in the drive (12:29), Robertson missed a tackle on a short speed out to Finley (as did a few other Cleveland defenders), which turned a short, usually easy defensive play into seven points for the Packers. A defensive holding penalty further contributed to his -3.6 grade, as did allowing receptions on the third and fourth passes into his coverage.
With Jabaal Sheard seeing his first game action since Week 3, rookie Barkevious Mingo was relegated to a situational role, as he played on just 42 of the team’s 72 defensive snaps after being in for at least 80% in his last three games. Fresher legs didn’t do much for his production, though, as he continued his disappointing rookie season after registering just two pressures. Two pressures on 23 rushes doesn’t appear to warrant a negative grade – and it’s certainly a better rate than we see from other players – but let’s consider how he got them. His first (1Q, 9:33) came after Aaron Rodgers’ roll left caused his blocker (Andrew Quarless) to lose leverage – so despite getting a solid hit on the QB, he didn’t have to do much to get it. Likewise, his second pressure (3Q, 11:43) was more a product of good coverage downfield, as Rodgers held the ball for close to five seconds before Mingo was able to get there, though he also faced a double team on the play.
Green Bay – Three Performances of Note
House Plays Big at Home
While the entire Green Bay secondary played well, no one was better than nickel corner Davon House, who allowed just two of seven passes into his coverage to be completed and was part of a group that either defensed or intercepted a whopping seven Cleveland passes. The interception came from House (1Q, 9:40), as he made Weeden pay for his misread, jumping the out route to end a drive in Packer territory. Primarily manning the right cornerback spot (with Tramon Williams moving inside to cover the slot in nickel), he also got his hands on two more passes to prevent a completion, both of them with Josh Gordon as the intended target.
Nelson vs Haden
Coming into this game we highlighted the matchup of Jordy Nelson and cornerback Joe Haden as one to watch in our Three to Focus On preview. While Nelson snagged a third quarter touchdown that put the game firmly out of reach, he was largely held in check with his lowest yardage output on the season (42 yds). Given that he faced Haden in coverage for most of the game, his six targets in 41 routes, despite being the clear go-to WR with Randall Cobb and James Jones out, says a lot. Directly, only 4 of Nelson’s five catches and 29 of his yards came against the Browns CB, who allowed two first downs in addition to the touchdown.
With their primary pass defender focused on stopping Nelson, the Browns weren’t able to do much against the other Packer targets with two of them having particularly good games. TE Jermichael Finley caught five passes and notched his highest-graded receiving performance of the season at +2.2, much of it coming on his touchdown reception (1Q, 12:29) on which he broke three tackles. Second year WR Jarrett Boykin (+1.7) also benefited from the increased playing time as Aaron Rodgers looked his way often. Accounting for a third of Rodgers’ 30 targets, Boykin finished with eight catches for 103 yards and a touchdown.
After a strong start to the season, Packer RT Don Barclay has struggled mightily after the bye week, grading at -2.5 or worse in each of his last three games, including this one, with both Paul Kruger and Jabaal Sheard besting him at times. The game might have turned out differently if not for his quarterback’s mobility, when Sheard got inside of the RT at 7:35 of the third quarter – a dangerous play with the Packers backed up close to their end zone. Unfortunately, run blocking didn’t go too well either, as he did little positive to pave the way for the Packer backs and again showed susceptibility to inside moves with Ahtyba Rubin beating him for two stops.
– Morgan Burnett followed up his +3.3 display last week with a +2.0 grade against the Browns, making plays in both coverage and run defense.
– 18 of the Packers’ designed runs went to the left of center, while seven went to the right.
– This was the first clean sheet (no pressures) for LT Joe Thomas, who’s our 2nd-highest graded offensive tackle.
PFF Game Ball
Davon House gets this one after notching the team’s highest grade of the game with a great display in coverage.
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