ReFo: Chiefs @ Browns, Week 14
After taking six weeks to win their first game the Browns have now won their last three in a row and have become a squad no one wants to face. The next three teams up for Cleveland are Washington, Denver and Pittsburgh and even against these playoff contenders a 2-1 finish is hardly out of the question.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs look like a team waiting for change. In Week 2 I laid into Romeo Crennel for potentially getting his players injured in a lost cause. There was none of that here as it felt like the Chiefs simply wanted to get home as they continued to run Jamaal Charles on first down despite being three scores back with only eight minutes left. In addition they only used one of their three second half timeouts.
Why are they teams going in opposite directions? Let’s have a look at some individual performances to find out.
Kansas City – Three Performances of Note
Back to Reality
After Brady Quinn’s (-1.4) moment in the sun against the Panthers last week it was back to business as usual against the Browns. He got much less support from his line (pressured on 48% of throws compared to 23% last week) and also made mistakes of his own. Not only was there the forced throw that ended up being intercepted, but additionally he seems to have developed a penchant for throwing out of bounds down the right sideline rather than giving his receivers a chance. Whether this is a defense mechanism brought on from fear of interceptions or simple inaccuracy, I don’t know. What is clear is that he’ll need to play like he did in Week 13 for at least two of the next three weeks if he wants a shot at a starting job in 2013.
While the choice of Dontari Poe (-2.8) hasn’t been a complete disaster, he’s hardly lived up to the 11th pick used to select him, as a run-stuffer or pass-rusher. Poe’s 11 total pressures (zero in this game) from 314 rush attempts means he should probably be taking a break on third down. Instead, the defensive lineman has played 73% of all snaps including 49 more snaps against the pass than the run. That said his play in the running game has also been lackluster and here he lost out to Alex Mack more often than not. On Montario Hardesty’s 25 yard scamper, watch the ease with which Mack pushes him back, to his knees and out of the play.
The good news for Chiefs fans is this is not a destitute roster. Talent abounds but the wherewithal to get the most from it has been missing. One of the better players is Brandon Flowers (+1.6) and in this game he showed his skill again. In coverage on 34 snaps he was targeted four times, allowed two receptions for 22 yards and also knocked down the fade for Josh Gordon in the end zone. He did give up the horse collar penalty but those are always tricky beasts to navigate and his intent was hardly malicious. Together with Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and others there’s plenty of talent to make a quick turn-around – if someone can tap into it of course.
Cleveland – Three Performances of Note
Picking Up From 2011
After an excellent rookie season Jabaal Sheard (+2.2) hasn’t had the impact this year we were expecting. While his solid run defense has been maintained he’s been struggling to get pressure with anywhere near the regularity he achieved in 2011. His 31 QB disruptions with a pass rush productivity (PRP) of 5.5 is good enough for only 36th among 4-3 ends, whereas last year his PRP of 9.4 saw him at 14th (sandwiched between Charles Johnson and Dwight Freeney). However, against a good Chiefs line he picked up a sack, hit and hurry while still playing the run as well as ever. Juqua Parker is the closest thing this unit has to a legitimate pass rusher so it’s imperative Sheard holds up his end and continues with this form.
Close to the End?
It’s uncertain how much longer Sheldon Brown (+1.7) will continue playing but if this was his last year, he would certainly go out on a strong note. At times (as against Dallas) he looks as if his lost step is there to be exploited but generally he’s had solid coverage in most games. This was never going to be the most testing of days (especially after Dwayne Bowe went out) but giving up nothing and defensing the pass which led directly to the interception was beyond expectations.
Improvement to a Point
It would be nice to think the Browns season turned around when Brandon Weeden (-0.9) improved but that would be making the facts fit the script. He’s certainly played better the last two weeks but neither showing was a performance worthy of a good NFL quarterback. His highest passing grade all year has been a +1.7 (in Week 2) and here he still graded -1.0. It’s more than fair to say he’s the beneficiary of one of the best pass blocking lines in the league and at times he doesn’t take advantage of that additional time. In fact on two occasions he took sacks he shouldn’t have as he hung onto the ball beyond four seconds. It’s also worth remembering that although he wasn’t picked off, he should have been twice; once by each safety.
The problem with Weeden is there isn’t one game you can point to and say we need more of that. There’s individual throws but never once has he put together a good game and that has to be a worry for Browns faithful.
– At LT, Brandon Albert rotated with Donald Stephenson during the game. Albert played 61% of snaps, Stephenson 39%.
– Dwayne Bowe left the game after only eight snaps. Even so Jonathan Baldwin was only in on 54% of offensive plays.
– Other than the change at LG (from Jason Pinkston to John Greco) the Browns’ offensive line has remained unchanged all year with the other four players never missing a snap.
PFF Game Ball
Jabaal Sheard gets the nod here in what really was more of a team effort.
Follow Neil on Twitter: @PFF_Neil