Here are my final thoughts from the Browns’ 32-28 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium:
>>Another great performance by Josh Gordon goes to waste. This is beyond crazy. Gordon has been absolutely spectacular the past two weeks, performing at a level that puts him among the very best receivers the NFL has ever seen. Few players at the position this side of Calvin Johnson have Gordon’s off-the-charts combination of size, athleticism, and speed that he can turn on in zero-to-a-sixty fashion any time and any place. The second of his two touchdown receptions, covering 95 yards, was a perfect example of that. And Gordon’s playing at this stratospheric level on a bad team with a revolving door at the quarterback position. He is doing this despite missing the first two games with a suspension, and after clearing another hurdle (a temporary exit from Sunday’s game after suffering a blow to the chin). But the only people truly happy with the results of Gordon’s efforts are those bright enough to have him on their fantasy rosters. For the Browns, his numbers are, well, just numbers because the rest of the team simply doesn’t have what it takes to win, even against inferior competition.
>>And that brings us to the second thought. That was not a good team that handed the Browns their third straight loss and sixth in their last seven games. Once again, the Browns had to find ways to lose, such as Brandon Weeden’s two interceptions and a fumble … and the bad shotgun snap that resulted in a safety for the Jaguars midway through the fourth quarter … and the late defensive letdowns that led to 10 Jacksonville points in a span of 3:34 in the fourth quarter, during which the Browns gave up 137 yards. Unfortunately, we’ve seen the offensive miscues before. But the defensive breakdowns simply shouldn’t be occurring with what is supposed to be one of the better defenses in the league. Chad Henne shouldn’t be throwing for two touchdown passes, especially with a receiving corps that has one dynamic playmaker (Cleveland’s Cecil Shorts III), against this defense. Add Ace Sanders to the list of no-name pass-catchers to torment the Browns this season. The Jaguars also ran the ball more effectively than the Browns’ defense should have allowed.
>>I’m not sure what to make of Weeden’s concussion, news of which popped up about an hour after the game. That makes two Browns quarterbacks to be concussed in back-to-back games. That makes the fourth time a Browns quarterback has suffered an injury that could cause him to miss at least one game. And that means either Alex Tanney or Jason Campbell, who sustained a concussion against the Steelers last week, could very well become the sixth different starting quarterback in 13 games for the Browns when they face the Patriots next Sunday. Seriously? Weeden’s day was, to say the least, bizarre. He got into an early groove, then imploded right before halftime with two interceptions and a fumble that led to 13 Jaguars points in a span of 2:35, then threw two second-half touchdowns. Somewhere along the line, he suffered a concussion to ultimately make his chance for redemption another nightmarish experience.
>>If Tanney does get the start against the Patriots, it will be the realization of what many of us predicted the day he was signed last week. I’m not sure anyone thought it would happen this soon, but we thought (perhaps feared is the better word) it would happen because of the unfortunate injury/performance history of the team’s quarterback position. It’s hard to imagine that Tanney, whom the Browns signed from the Cowboys’ practice squad, could get sufficiently up to speed with the offense in such a short amount of time. However, he does have a basic familiarity with the scheme. He also was throwing the ball well in practice last week and clearly, as his popular trick-shot YouTube video showed, has impressive accuracy. But asking a guy to find success in his first NFL start on the road – and in Foxborough, Mass., of all places – is asking a heck of a lot.
>>Jabaal Sheard and Ahtyba Rubin gave the Browns their first two sacks in three games. That was noteworthy. However, overall, the Browns needed to generate more pressure on Henne. The pass rush is supposed to be the strength of this team. It needs to be consistently forcing the mistakes the Jaguars were able to force against the Browns. Joe Haden’s interception was a plus, but it doesn’t make up for a defense that absolutely needed to come up bigger than it did late in the game.
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