CLEVELAND, Ohio: Scribbles in my notebook after the Browns’ 31-30 loss to the Jets:
1. It’s a side issue, but it still bothered me. After the Browns defense gave up 14 points in the final 115 seconds of play, Myles Garrett complained about the home crowd booing. Really? Yes, he really did. He said: “The disappointing thing was the booing at the end. It was not the most optimal ending to have…we have a lot of time to correct what we’re doing. We don’t want to see this crowd, this stadium giving up on us this early. We want them completely behind us.”
2. To be fair to Garrett, he also talked about how players need to look at themselves. Same for the coaches. He wasn’t blaming the fans for the loss. But this was not the time for him to say a word about the fans, other than to promise the customers they will improve.
3. Garrett on the collapse: “We let up on defense and really the whole team did at the 11th hour…those kind of plays (blown coverages) are unacceptable, without a doubt…if anyone is going to point fingers , I’m going to point one at myself knowing I could have done better.”
4. According to ESPN, the last time any NFL team blew a 13-point lead in the final two minutes was in 2001. You got it, the Browns…again. They lost to the Bears. Cleveland had a 21-7 lead with 33 seconds left in that game. The Bears scored a pair of TDs in those 33 seconds, forcing an overtime. Chicago won in overtime when Browns QB Tim Couch threw an interception that was run back for a TD.
5. Booing doesn’t mean the fans are giving up on the team, as Garrett implied. They had just witnessed a football calamity, a parade of mental mistakes on defense in terms of blown coverages. Garrett should have said the defense was embarrassed, because their performance at the end of the game was embarrassing.
6. As for Garrett’s performance, he had one tackle. It was a sack. He had two QB hits. But overall, he wasn’t much of a factor – especially in those final two minutes when the Jets were marching down the field – twice.
7. Jets coach Robert Saleh on Garrett: “I think we wore him out. We were chipping the heck out of him (with blocks)…It was hot down there. You could see it. The guy is an unbelievable talent…we were trying to bother the heck out of him all game.”
8. Coach Kevin Stefanski had this to say about the blown coverages that led to a pair of Jets TDs: “Obviously, guys are not on the same page. It’s very, very clear what we were doing. We talked about it on the sidelines before everyone went out on the field. We talked to the entire defense about what they (the Jets) were about to do – which was throwing it over our head. We can’t let that happen.”
9. But the Browns did let that happen when Corey Davis caught a 66-yard TD pass with 1:22 left. Denzel Ward seemed to be in coverage, then he let Davis run free down the sidelines. I don’t know what the safeties were doing.
10. Jets QB Joe Flacco on that Davis TD: “We were running (receivers) on both sides (of the field). It looked like the safety went (to the other side) and the corner stayed low…no one was anywhere near him…it was really a weird feeling how quiet it got down there.”
11. That’s a lot of football jargon to say Flacco saw exactly what the fans did. Ward was covering Davis running straight down the sideline. Then Ward stopped covering Davis. Then no one picked up the receiver, who was outrageously open.
12. More Stefanski: “We have a young football team. Unfortunately, that youth at times has shown up. We have to grow up real fast.”
13. Note to Kevin: Sit down with Joe Woods and ask your defensive coordinator why the kids can’t keep the coverages straight. There have been four blown coverages in the first two games. Earlier in this contest, New York running back Breece Hall caught a wide open 10-yard TD pass. It appeared Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was confused about going after a receiver or Hall – and covered no one.
14. Some will blame Nick Chubb for not stopping short of the goal line with 1:55 left in the game. The idea would be for the Browns to have the ball on the Jets 1-yard line. New York had no more timeouts. The Browns could take a knee three times and come close to running out the clock. But that’s a reaction play. Look, I’d rather be up by 13 points with under two minutes left than by seven…even with New York’s dire timeout situation. This is a nitpick on a guy who scored three TDs. It’s a way of letting the defense and the coaches off the hook. I refuse to do that.
15. If only the Browns defense was as focused on keeping the Jets out of the end zone as Chubb was fixated on running into the end zone in the final moments of the game…we’d be having a much different discussion.
16. All of this negated a terrific performance by Jacoby Brissett (22-of-27 passing, 229 yards) and Amari Cooper (9 catches, 101 yards and a TD). Yes, Brissett threw an interception on the final Browns play of the game, but the game was basically over. In the first two games with Brissett, the offense scored 26 and 30 points. They should be 2-0.
17. This is on Joe Woods and the defense, which has allowed 34 points in the two fourth quarters this season. The blown coverages were a problem for the first part of 2021 before Woods simplified his coverage, doing a more man-to-man concept. Do it again!
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