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Cumbleton’s Conclusions – Week 7 Edition

Cleveland vs Cincinnati

img_0185Out in Cincinnati they have a receiver who’s pretty good. AJ Green is a mercurial talent who draws the attention of opposing defences, making space for everyone around him, and still makes plays when the ball comes his way. On Sunday he made a highlight reel one handed catch. Brandon LaFell is rapidly proving me wrong and emerging as a real number two receiver. With Joe Haden out, the Browns couldn’t compete and Green finished the day with eight catches for 169. I’m excited to see what Green can do at Wembley Stadium this weekend when they face the Redskins (possibly without Josh Norman).

It wasn’t any better for the Browns when they tried to stop they run. They made Jeremy Hill look like Emmitt Smith! Although the Bengals continue to share the load at running back, this week it was third year back Jeremy Hill who had the hit hand. He gained 168 yards on just 9 carries (including runs of 74 and 48 yards) and added a touchdown. Giovanni Bernard also chipped in with 80 yards and a touchdown of his own. It wasn’t so much bad tackling as no tackling! Hill picked up over a third of his season total in this match.

It’s becoming an unwritten rule that whoever the Browns start at quarterback won’t be there in the second half. Hue Jackson has been forced to change his quarterback time and time again behind an offensive line that closely resembles a revolving door. It was the same this week once Cody Kessler went down injured. With new signing Kevin Hogan under centre the Browns offence was limited. It was certainly the first time I’ve seen a passer have more yards on the ground (104) than through the air (100). Hogan was also picked off twice. It didn’t help that Terrelle Pryor was nursing an injury and only managed two receptions for 18 yards.

Steelers vs Patriots

The Steelers were facing an uphill battle in this one from the start. With Big Ben injured the start went to Landry Jones. Jones moved the ball well at times but penalties (10, including one that nullified a Darrius Heyward-Bey touchdown) and turnovers stifled any hope the Steelers offence had of an upset win.

Against the pass the Steelers did a pretty good job. They held Tom Brady to 222 passing yards and two touchdowns. The argument could definitely be made that the Patriots didn’t need to pass. The Steelers were seemingly powerless when it came to stopping the run. They allowed LaGarrette Blount to run for 127 yards and two scores.

After the game multiple Steelers have voiced their dissatisfaction at their performance, especially Ryan Shazier. He said, “We didn’t make tackles. Everyone is responsible. We have to hold each other accountable. We have to make sure we can be the defense we can be. Right now, we’re looking like garbage. This is terrible right now.” Even without defensive end Cam Heyward the Steelers made no excuses, however if they can’t make adjustments they’ll face some uncomfortable questions

 

Ravens vs Jets

img_0184The Baltimore Ravens were on a three game losing streak when they faced the Jets. Perhaps the main reason for this is that they have been well and truly bitten by the injury bug. Against the Jets they were without several key players. Elvis Dumervil, Terrell Suggs and C.J Mosley were all out injured. No-one can doubt Suggs’ toughness. He is intent on playing through a torn bicep as soon as he is able. Over on offense, Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda, rookie tackle Ronnie Stanley and Receiver Steve Smith Snr. also didn’t play. Whilst Joe Flacco did play he has also been nursing injuries and clearly wasn’t himself against the Jets. This may have played a part in his throwing two interceptions.

On Sunday they also had a massive problem. They couldn’t run the ball. They managed a ridiculous 11 yards on their 11 carries. Terrence West picked up most of those on one 5 yard run. At the present time the Ravens are showing that they just aren’t a very good team. Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil aren’t the pass rushing stars they billed themselves as and the pass defense is proving inept.

How bad are the Cleveland Browns Really?

It’s a question I found myself asking this week. On offence they have some good players in place. Terrelle Pryor looks like one of the breakout stars of 2016 and rookie quarterback Cody Kessler shows flashes of some positive traits. Tackle Joe Thomas is now 32 but remains one of the best in the game and provides the Browns with a real cornerstone. Also Corey Coleman has showed great promise when he’s been on the field. He’s returned to practice this week but it’s important he gets significant game time in the second half of the season.

There’s no doubt that they need to upgrade nearly every position on defence not filled by anyone called Danny Shelton. With that being said there have also been promising signs from Carl Nassib, Nate Orchard and Emmanuel Ogbah. It’s time the Browns activated Scooby Wright III to see what he can contribute. In college he overcame limited physical gifts to make plays all over the field.

With their season all but over the Browns must try to gain an accurate assessment of their needs (offensive line?!). The good news for the Browns are likely to be picking in the top 3 picks in the draft and will have plenty of ammunition to be major players in the 2017 draft. The bad news is that they have been inept at evaluating players both in the draft and free agents. Can a few more Browns show signs of progress? Hue Jackson certainly hopes so.

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