ReFo: Browns @ Panthers, Week 16

Reviewing the Panthers' Week 16 win over Cleveland, Matt Claassen shares a set of noteworthy player grades for each side.

| 3 years ago

ReFo: Browns @ Panthers, Week 16

2014-REFO-WK16-CLE@CARWith the Chargers’ win on Saturday night, the Cleveland Browns were eliminated from playoff contention prior to their game and left to play spoiler versus the Carolina Panthers. For the second consecutive week, the Browns ran less than 50 offensive plays as Carolina dominated the time of possession. The Panthers sustained long drives early on which kept Johnny Manziel and the Browns’ offense on the sidelines. Manziel’s second start was cut short as he left due to injury after just 16 plays and the offense was handed over to Brian Hoyer once again. The offense finally found the end zone for the first time in weeks, but their 13 points still wasn’t enough to secure a win.

On the other side of the field, Cam Newton returned to the lineup less than two weeks after his car accident and did not seem bothered by his injured back. It was an average day passing for him, but as usual he did a great job of extending plays with his feet, picking up first downs, and ultimately did enough to help the Panthers win.

The loss guarantees the Browns a last place finish in the AFC North for the sixth time in seven years despite having the chance to finish at .500 with a win in Week 17. Meanwhile, the Panthers’ third-straight win kept their playoff chances alive and they can clinch the NFC South with a sub-.500 record by defeating the Falcons next week.

Here are a few notable individual performances from each team.

Cleveland Browns— Performances of Note

Scott Solomon, OLB: +5.9

Breakdown: Solomon was called up from the Browns’ practice squad on Saturday and found himself on the field for 26 plays on defense. He didn’t do much in the limited amount of time with the Buccaneers early in the season, but we saw a different player on Sunday. He showed great quickness as a pass rusher as he picked up a strip-sack and four hurries on just 12 pass rushes while also making a couple stops in run defense. It will be interesting to see if he can duplicate his success in the final game of the season.

Signature Play: 3Q 0:33. The Panthers run away from Solomon, but his great burst off the line allows him to chase down Jonathan Stewart in the backfield for a loss on 3rd-and-5.

Pierre Desir, CB: +0.3

Breakdown: It was a mixed bag for the fourth-round pick who started in place of the injured Joe Haden. He gave up six first downs including the one via penalty, but was never beaten too badly as the six catches he allowed only went for 61 yards and 14 yards after the catch. He did have two impressive pass defenses that did help offset the first downs allowed.

Signature Play: 4Q 7:22. Covering fellow rookie Kelvin Benjamin, Desir gets just enough of his hand on the ball to prevent the catch and touchdown.

Chris Kirksey, ILB: +2.3

Breakdown: Kirksey did not play as much as he had in recent games, but he still had a run stop among a few good plays in run defense.

Signature Play: 1Q 11:11. Kirksey quickly gets upfield for contain but is actually able to take down Stewart for a loss on 3rd-and-3. The 6-yard loss moved the field goal attempt back to 49 yards which ended up being wide right.

Carolina Panthers — Performances of Note

Jonathan Stewart, HB: +1.6

Breakdown: Stewart has had issues with injuries again this year, but he has quietly been one of the more underrated backs when on the field. Stewart eclipsed 100 yards rushing for the second time in three weeks and had a season-high 65 yards after contact.

Signature Stat: With 52 missed tackles forced this season, Stewart’s 74.3 Elusive Rating is second to only Marshawn Lynch.

Charles Johnson, DE: +2.8

Breakdown: Johnson started the season off slow and many wondered how the loss of Greg Hardy would affect his performance. However, Johnson has played as well as any 4-3 defensive end as of late and continued his hot streak with another good performance on Sunday. In addition to a batted pass, Johnson picked up a sack, two hurries and had a quarterback hit nullified by penalty.

Signature Stat: Since Week 12, Johnson’s +17.4 overall grade is tops among 4-3 defensive ends.

Thomas Davis, OLB: +2.9

Breakdown: Davis continues to be one of the best 4-3 linebackers in the league, particularly in coverage. He did it all this this game, however. He allowed just one catch for 8 yards in coverage, picked up two hurries on six pass rushes, and had a tackle for loss against the run.

Signature Play: 4Q 4:10. Covering Josh Gordon out of the slot, Davis stays with the wide receiver on the crossing route to make a near-immediate tackle to force fourth down on the Browns’ final drive.

PFF Game Ball

Jonathan Stewart’s success on the ground was a huge factor in the offense’s success as whole and earned him this week’s game ball.


Follow Matt on twitter: @PFF_MattC

| Analyst

Matt has been an analyst for PFF since 2013. He is also a contributor to 120 Sports and a former NCAA Division-III football player.

  • Riffle,Rod&Fly

    The Browns came back to life once Panziel tapped out and left the game.

  • Jason Williams

    Please tell me Johnny is done in Cleveland – don’t give the ball to this guy next year.

    • Riffle,Rod&Fly

      Screwing over a bunch of truck drivers apparently wasn’t enough for Haslem. The future is bright Cleveland!

    • It depends on what fails

      I never write a player off after just two games but he has given me a solid argument to do it.

      He look likes a high school QB, “show me the money” is what ESPN, the SEC and Texas A&M are saying now, wonder who is going to be the next QB coming out of college to be a hype machine ready to explode.

      • Izach

        Mariota up next

        • It depends on what fails

          I agree, but Mariota’s hype is way down compared to Manziel, Tebow or even RG3.

          I don’t even know if it is biggest than Leinart’s.

          • Izach

            Idk I live on the western side of US, the hype behind Mariota is almost bigger than lucks IMO, and his fans are worse than the tebowmania guys, him winning the Heisman on a down year for Heisman canidates also fuels their fire. Oregons playoff hopes alive as well makes it worse, pac-12 was overrated, Oregon is overrated and Mariota is in charge, I don’t wish bad for the man just feel bad for the expectaions that will be placed on him because of the hype.

    • Gil

      Just like the disgraceful bears are done with Jay bustler and that awful defense that will have the 85 bears disgusted to wear a bear’s jersey.

  • Football

    Johhny Manziel is already a bust after two games. How about that