LANDOVER, Md -- The Browns may have lost 24-23 on Monday Night Football to the Redskins, but there were several players who walked away from the game looking sharp.
The Browns' offense as a whole is sputtering at the moment, but Ben Tate is not. His 10 carries for 51 yards are telling. Until the passing game gets up to speed, Cleveland is going to rely on the 25-year-old running back. Tate has picked up the zone running scheme with ease. He's picking the right holes. He's encouraging contact and knocking back opposing defenses. A thought: why not get him more involved in the passing game? Look for that next week at home against the St. Louis Rams.
Where wasn't the inside linebacker against the Redskins? Robertson made two of the biggest plays in the game. He alertly jumped to the turf grabbing a fumble recovery when Washington was driving in the first quarter. And he made the fourth-down tackle at the one on running back Alfred Morris. Robertson finished with six tackles and might have a stronger grip on his starting position.
Perhaps no other Browns players offseason will prove to be as imperative as Kruger's. The outside linebacker went back to the basics with his training technique, and he's visibly quicker off the ball. Kruger's statistics don't overwhelm you (two tackles, two quarterback hits, one sack), but when he wasn't on the field, it was noticed.
He did give up a big play to Desean Jackson early in the first quarter, but it didn't end up mattering. Haden's interception on Griffin was textbook. He baited the Redskins' quarterback into the throw, swiftly stepped in front and started sprinting up the field. It's plays like these which made it easy for the Cleveland front office to make Haden one of the highest-paid defensive players in the league. His interception killed Washington's momentum and kept the Browns' defense off the field.
The South Carolina rookie was clearly the most efficient Browns quarterback on Monday night (8-for-9, 123 yards passing). Who cares if it was against third-teamers. It was Shaw's first ever NFL experience. And he completed a dazzling Hail Mary as time expired in the fourth quarter to Emmanuel Ogbuehi. But the play that stands out to the ultra-competitive Shaw is his failed two-point conversion which cost the Browns the game.
"They put the game in my hands," said Shaw. "I've just got to make the play next time."
"I thought that was a heck of a drive by Connor," said head coach Mike Pettine. "He regrets the throw on the two-point play. It was good to see them respond."
Chris Kirksey (eight tackles)
Taylor Gabriel (three catches, 37 yards)
Zac Diles (six tackles)
Armonty Bryant (three tackles, one sack)