Clearly the Browns played a great game to get the win against the Saints. This was the first home opening win in a long time. The final drive by Brian Hoyer reminded me of the Cardiac Kids era. Hoyer drove the Browns from the 4 to a winning field goal. In the recent past the gaggle of quarterbacks the Browns have started would have thrown a pick or taken a bad sack to end the game.
Hoyer was outstanding. He was 24 of 40 for 204 yards and 1 TD with no picks. There were more than a few drops as well. But Hoyer hung in and showed he has outstanding vision to see the field. But a QB can not do that without some good catches on the other end. The much maligned WR group did well overall. There were some critical drops but the band of no-names came through when it counted. Miles Austin made 3 critical catches in the final drive. TE Gary Barnage was solid both blocking and catching. He had a key catch on the final drive on a 4th down that kept the Browns hopes alive.
The running game was OK but needs work. The backs are both rookies with a lot of talent but need to get more experience. Both backs need a little more help from the O line.
The O line gave up only 1 sack but Hoyer was under a lot more pressure than he should have been. The right side of the line is below average. Most of the pressure on Hoyer came from his right side. The O line did not generate the holes to get the running game going that are required for future wins.
The D still struggles to get off the field on 3rd down. While it scored a TD, it needs to prevent teams from converting more than 50% of the third down attempts. The D allowed a late 1st half drive for a score. When a team scores like that they usually win the game. Late in the half or the game, the D has to play better.
The front 7 played very well early but wore down as the game progressed. They got 2 sacks on a QB that is hard to get because of his quick release. But in the 2nd half the pressure was not there. The team had a couple of guys out but that will happen. In addition the front 7 gave up 6.4 yards per rushing attempt. That is not acceptable particularly against a team that struggles to run the ball. The biggest issue is the edge run. The Browns have struggled to stop that since they returned in 1999. ILB Karlos Dansby played particularly well.
The D backfield played pretty well. The one guy that kept the Saints in the game was TE Jimmy Graham. One guy can not cover Graham. The defense needed to have a LB and CB or safety on him at all times. The team should have known that Graham is the red zone target and covered him better.
The TD return by FS Tashaun Gipson was outstanding. It almost made up for allowing the score by the Saints at the end of the first half. QB Drew Brees completed 27 of 40. But the defense had just enough stops to keep the game close.
Then there is the special teams. The bad snap on the extra point nearly cost the team the win. That is not acceptable but is not new. We have seen that way too often. The kickoff and punt coverage teams were much better this week. The return teams did nothing. It is time that someone beside Travis Benjamin return kicks. He still seems to be favoring the leg he hurt last year.
The Bottom line: This was exactly the kind of game that the Browns would lose in the past. The difference this time was Hoyer. Rather than folding in the last drive, he took the team on his back and led them to a win. The play calling was better. The O line held up in the last drive pretty well. All and all, it is nice to have a win to talk about. The fan base deserves it.
That is what I think. Tell us what you think by commenting here or tweeting me @NNRonDSN.
NOTE: The News, Notes and Rumors podcasts are on hold due to a problem with the site. I apologize for that and hope we will be back soon.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on http://www.eBooks-Library.com/Contemporary/ and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/. Follow him on twitter @NNRonDSN to get the schedule of Special News, Notes and Rumors broadcasts. You can hear the previous shows on http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/ and the live show Mondays at 6 PM Eastern time on http://www.justin.tv/papaburl.
He also edits http://fryingpanpolitics.org/.
To keep up with the News, Notes & Rumors podcasts, follow me on twitter @NNRonDSN.