Bengals vs. Browns: Takeaways from Cleveland's 17-6 Win over Cincinnati
After a surprising 17-6 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, the Browns have new hope. The team now knows they can compete within the division and seems to have a quarterback that it can rally around.
Brian Hoyer is undefeated as the quarterback for his hometown team and deserves to start from this point forward.
Here are some takeaways from the Browns victory on Sunday.
Brian Hoyer Is a Playmaker
With 11:31 left in the game, a four-point lead and the game in the balance, Brian Hoyer delivered once again. He orchestrated a 91-yard drive, during which he completed all six passes he attempted.
He finished the game 25-for-38 for 269 yards and two touchdowns. He bought time in the pocket, delivered the ball quickly and did not turn it over.
Hoyer seems to be more confident than Weeden was at any point during his tenure. He certainly feels pressure better and is able to evade defenders.
Brandon Weeden is going to have to get comfortable on the bench, because Hoyer is the man moving forward.
Jordan Cameron Is Becoming a Top 5 TE
Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.
Dominate for four straight games and you are a legitimate weapon in the NFL.
Cameron has quickly escalated into the realm of Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski and now has 30 receptions for 260 yards and five touchdowns. Norv Turner’s offense puts a huge emphasis on the tight end, and Cameron is delivering.
In becoming Hoyer’s favorite target, the third-year player has become a matchup nightmare for the opposition.
Rob Chudzinksi Hired the Right Staff
Not only has the coaching staff won two straight games, but they kept the team together after the face of the franchise was traded. The team is playing well and the young players are progressing.
Ray Horton has the Browns defense playing at an elite level. If he keeps up this pace he will be a head coach next season.
Norv Turner has been creative with the offensive play-calling, which has allowed Hoyer to excel. Right now the coaching staff seems to be pushing all the right buttons.
After the Richardson trade, it would have been very easy to lose the locker room. Instead, the team has moved in a positive direction.
The Defense Is Dominant
Limiting one of the most talented offenses in the NFL to 266 yards is not easy. For the fourth straight week the Browns smothered the run and forced their opponent to make plays through the air.
While they sacked Andy Dalton only two times, the defense put pressure on him all day long. Ray Horton is orchestrating an elite-level defense in its first year under his control.
The Bengals were the defense's first real test, and it passed with flying colors.
Cincinnati has a balanced offensive attack and legitimate Super Bowl aspirations. The Browns made Andy Dalton and A.J. Green look mediocre. That’s tough to do.
Buster Skrine Deserves Some Love
Skrine has taken a beating over the years from the fans and media. While some of it was deserved, he doesn’t always get a fair shake.
Buster has played extremely solid football and has actually saved a few touchdowns this season. There were huge question marks in the secondary heading into 2013, but Skrine is quickly solidifying his place opposite Joe Haden.
In Ray Horton's defense, Skrine is asked to play quite a bit of zone coverage. His reaction time is much better than people give him credit for, and he always fights for the football.
He will never be a fan favorite in Cleveland, but it’s about time people get off his back.
Hopefully, Billy Cundiff Isn’t Healthy
It is crazy to hope someone isn’t healthy, but that’s exactly what people in Cleveland are thinking about Billy Cundiff. He didn’t practice until Friday because he was nursing a quad injury.
If he is healthy, there is no excuse for missing two field goals. He missed from 37 and 49 yards against the Bengals.
The Browns are not in a position to be giving points away, and those kicks could have haunted Cleveland against Cincinnati. Hopefully, his misses were due to injury and he recovers quickly.
Joe Haden Got His Revenge
Heading into their teams' Week 4 tilt, A.J. Green and Joe Haden had matched up three times previously. In those meetings, Green had 11 receptions for 286 yards and three touchdowns.
Green is the only receiver whom Haden had not shut down in his career. That changed in Week 4.
Green was essentially a nonfactor and finished with seven receptions for 51 yards. While Dalton found him frequently, the receiver did very little damage. His longest reception was 16 yards, because Haden blanketed him the entire game.
You will never take an athletic freak like Green completely out of the game, but anytime you can minimize his impact it is a good thing.
Haden won this battle.
Norv Turner Found Balance
The Browns will not have a dominant running attack this season. What they need, however, is to make teams respect their ability to run.
Against Cincinnati, Turner didn't abandon that aspect of the offense and found a way to get his offense to grind out yards. The Browns rushed the ball 30 times for 89 yards.
While the yards per attempt were not good, the result was. The Browns were able to use the play-action pass efficiently and keep the Bengals on their heels.