Browns vs. Packers: Takeaways from Cleveland's 31-13 Loss to Green Bay
Quarterback Brandon Weeden had another poor performance but so did just about everyone else on the roster. Plain and simple, the Browns looked like a bad football team.
They seem to be regressing from their three game win streak just a few weeks ago. The defense has fallen apart two weeks in a row, and the offense cannot find any kind of rhythm whatsoever.
Head coach Rob Chudzinski has some serious decisions to make over the next few weeks about his starting quarterback and maybe even guys at other positions as well.
Here are some takeaways from the Browns ugly loss at Lambeau Field.
Brandon Weeden Looks Defeated
It is no secret that fans would love to see another quarterback take Weeden’s place as the starter, but even he seems bewildered at just how poorly he is playing.
He is still saying all the right things, but his body language and facial expressions scream otherwise.
Just watching Weeden’s postgame press conference, via The Akron-Beacon Journal, is uncomfortable. He says that he is not discouraged, and he told his team there is still a lot of football to play.
The fact that they have nine more weeks of trying to figure out their issues may be the most discouraging fact of all.
Weeden’s Leash Is Very Short
If the Browns do not make a quarterback change this week, then it can’t be too far away. Weeden was 17-of-42 for 149 yards. He threw one touchdown, one interception and finished with a 48.6 quarterback rating.
On the bright side, that is a vast improvement from his quarterback rating in the first quarter, which was 1.7.
He held the ball too long, stared down receivers and attempted another horrendous underhanded pass that was nearly intercepted.
Chudzinski said Monday via The Akron-Beacon Journal, “I’ll stick with our process we’ve had throughout which is basically evaluating the last game and we’ll talk as a staff later this afternoon. We’ll basically put the guys at all positions who give us the best opportunity to win.”
Last Monday, Chudzinski was very pointed when asked if Weeden would remain the starter. This week he left the door wide open.
Jason La Canfora of CBS reported that the Browns will stick with Weeden after considering a change. This is the closest they have come, and if he has one more bad outing, then backup Jason Campbell will probably get a shot.
Weeden Is Not the Browns' Only Issue
As I said earlier, it seems as though this team is regressing. The defense, which was ranked one of the best in the NFL just a few weeks ago, is now out of the top 10 and ranks 29th in the league on third downs.
The drops were also back on offense. Wide receivers Josh Gordon, Greg Little and Davone Bess as well as running backs Willis McGahee and Chris Ogbonnaya all had drops in the game.
Gordon was held to just two receptions for 21 yards, and both of those came in the fourth quarter. He also had a key drop on a 4th-and-15 early in the fourth quarter when the Browns trailed by just 11 points.
Rob Chudzinski felt the play should have been made.
“It seemed like it was a playable ball,” Chudzinski said via The Akron-Beacon Journal. “And you’d like to see him come up with that catch.”
The Browns also had 12 penalties for 106 yards and did not create a turnover. That is just bad football.
Buster Skrine and Joe Haden Were Abused
When the Browns were playing well it seemed like the combination of cornerbacks Joe Haden and Buster Skrine was becoming one of the best in the league. On Sunday, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a field day against them.
Rodgers was 25-of-36 for 260 yards and three touchdowns. He was indiscriminate about who he attacked through the air. Both Haden and Skrine were a step behind all game long.
They combined for just six tackles and zero passes defended.
Haden gave up a touchdown to Jordy Nelson and Skrine gave up a touchdown to Jarrett Boykin.
Going into the game, it seemed like a good matchup for the Browns because of all the injuries at wide receiver in Green Bay, but maybe that was the kiss of death. FootballOutsiders.com has the Browns ranked 5th in the NFL against No. 1 wide receivers but rank 14th against No. 2 receivers, 24th against tight ends and 27th against running backs.
Trade Rumors Are Obviously Bothering Josh Gordon
The back-and-forth about whether or not the Browns will trade wide receiver Josh Gordon, which has been reported by numerous outlets including Peter King of TheMMQB.com, are not just annoying to fans but also seem to be getting to Gordon himself.
For the first time this season, he was held to less than 71 yards receiving. While he was the focal point of the Packers defense, he was still targeted six times and made just two catches.
He looked distracted, discouraged and frustrated through most of the game.
Chudzinski said he thought Gordon’s drop on fourth down was a “playable ball.” Gordon disagreed.
“I jumped up at it and tried to make a play on the ball, but the defender came back and got his hand in there and knocked it out,” said Gordon via The Akron-Beacon Journal. “I definitely think I did attack it the way I usually do, and the DB made a great play on the ball.”
This is after last week’s loss to Detroit where Gordon did not speak to reporters when approached in the locker room.
The trade deadline is eight days away, and for Gordon, that cannot come soon enough.
The Inside Linebackers Were Not Good Again
I was pretty tough on Craig Robertson and D’Qwell Jackson last week and will continue to be tough on them until they are not the weak link defensively.
While no one played that great, they were once again exposed by the running backs and tight ends of an opponent.
Packers’ running back Eddie Lacy has 82 yards rushing on 22 carries and scored a touchdown. He and tight end Jermichael Finley combined for 10 receptions, 98 yards and one touchdown.
Teams are freely targeting the middle of the Browns defense to negate the heavy pressure that the defensive line creates. Early in the year, teams were trying to throw deep, but now they use underneath routes and exploit the Browns matchup problems that their linebackers create.
The Browns Will Be 3-5 Heading into the Bye Week
The Browns' two best chances at victory on their three-game road trip have come and gone. They will now have to travel to one of the toughest stadiums in the NFL and play an undefeated Kansas City Chiefs team.
If the Browns could have snagged a win over Detroit or Green Bay, they would have assured themselves at least a .500 record at the bye week. Instead, they are now staring two games under .500 and a three game losing streak right in the face.
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith is not at the level of Matthew Stafford or Aaron Rodgers, who both tore apart the Browns defense the last two weeks, but he is efficient and takes care of the football.
Considering the Browns woeful attempts at stopping pass-catching running backs, Chiefs’ running back Jamaal Charles could be in for a huge day next week.
Weeden has played so poorly that it is tough to imagine a scenario where he would be any better in ruthless Arrowhead Stadium.
We Don’t Need No Stinking Halftime Adjustments
In one of the most baffling stands in the history of football, the Cleveland Browns coaches made it a point of emphasis last week to let fans and media know that halftime adjustments are overrated.
Their play on the field is saying otherwise because once again the Browns were outscored in the second half of a football game. In fact, the Browns have been outscored 69-13 in the second half of their losses.
The issues that they struggle with continue to be the same. They cannot stop teams on third down, they cannot defend the tight end or running back and the offense turns the ball over far too often.
At some point, the coaching staff needs to introduce themselves to halftime adjustments. It just might help their cause.