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Highlights from week five: Colts vs. Browns

Indianapolis Colts v Cleveland Browns Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Overview

Lost in this loss will be fantastic performances from Bobby Okereke and Anthony Walker. With Darius Leonard out these two stepped up and performed well. There were problems at the position but they had nothing to do with Okereke and Walker. Philip Rivers didn’t play well. As a matter of fact it would be difficult to argue that he played better than bad. The defense did all it could to slow down a top ranked Browns offense, allowing only 3.76 yards per carry.

Yes, this is a game the Colts could have won and yes that sucks, but I think we need some perspective when looking at this loss. They lost this game on the road to a very good Browns team. It was their second road game in a row. If you look at the most consistent winning teams, they win at home. They’re not winning on the road and splitting games at home. The Colts are 7-3 at home since the start of an 8-8 2019 campaign, with winnable games on the horizon.

Losses suck, but let’s not make this more than it is, a single loss in October.


First Quarter

A challenge on the first play

I personally believe this was a fumble. Unfortunately none of the replay angles show Kareem Hunt’s lower body so the ruling on the field was upheld. I still think it was a fumble but the league’s explanation makes sense as you need irrefutable evidence, and the CBS D-Squad just didn’t give us those kind of camera options.

The league’s explanation

Not excited about it, but this explanation does make sense.

It always starts off so well

When uncle Phil throws them up and it works out like this, life is good. At this point, life was good.

Frank Reich being aggressive

Jonathan Taylor benefited from the confusion that the pre-snap motion created. It confused the outside defenders and held the rest of the defense while Taylor went in untouched on 4th and 2.

The Browns have seriously talented skill players

A linebacker probably shouldn’t be covering a wide receiver this well. Not usually, anyway. But Bobby Okereke was in fantastic position and Jarvis Landry just went up and made an impossible catch.

At First Look

At first look it looks like Kenny Moore II didn’t get the depth that he needed to get in his zone. After looking at it a few times, I still think that’s true but I can’t be 100% sure right now.

Early on the Colts dared the Browns to beat them through the air. It was a good strategy, coming into the game Cleveland had rushed for nearly 100 more yards than they had thrown. They were averaging 6.0 net yards per passing attempt and 5.9 yards per rushing attempt. Shutting down the Browns running game was the best way to try to beat them and the Colts did a great job limiting the leagues number one rushing attack.

There were a few very good plays

Obviously you would rather the defense get the stop well outside of field goal range but Julian Blackmon came up and made a great open field tackle on this play.

Kevin Stefanski was feeling aggressive too

The Browns called this play hoping the defense would lose track of Odell Beckham Jr. Rock Ya-Sin, who was solid most of the day, lost track of Odell Beckham Jr. who picked up an easy first down.


Second Quarter

The biggest issue in the first half

The pass rush simply couldn’t get to Mayfield. The play action pass worked to perfection most of the day for the Browns. Here Baker does what Baker does, escaping from the pocket, extending the play and finding a receiver on a school-yard play.

Rivers did at least one thing right

Before this snap Rivers could be heard “killing” the play. What that means is he was given and called two different plays in the huddle. When the Colts hear him yell “Kill, kill!” it means they’re changing to their second play. I don’t know exactly what Rivers saw but, I’m guessing it was the safety cheating that direction to cover for the blitzing cornerback.

Should have had more of this

The Colts should have done more to challenge the deep middle of the defense as their safeties are among the worst in the league. I have no idea if this was a play calling issue or a Philip Rivers-not-looking-that-way issue but it was an issue all the same.

This play is frustrating

Khari Willis is responsible for this TD. He let Mayfield look him off and move him toward the middle of the field. Willis had help on his inside in the middle of the field, he didn’t have help to his outside.


Third Quarter

This was backbreaking

There’s just no excuse for this throw. None.

Special teams helped out in this one

He’s pretty fast.

Finally a sack

Finally the Colts defense got to Mayfield, unfortunately it was too little, too late.

Capitalizing on a mistake

Bobby Okreke is really good at football and I think I’m done questioning Chris Ballard’s staff on what linebackers they select. They’ve got it figured out, I think.

Four down territory

Adam Archuletta droned on about what a play call on 3rd and five. I guess it’s a gutsy call unless you know you’re treating it like second down because you’re going to go for it on 4th if you don’t pick up the first on this one. Ultimately the line did a great job opening a hole on the right side of the line and Jonathan Taylor picked up the first down.

Archuletta really is the worst

At this point the Colts were getting some serious momentum going on the ground, had Jack Doyle not drawn a flag for an obvious hold, it might have continued.

During the broadcast Archuletta criticized Jonathan Taylor for not cutting this ball outside. I’m not saying Taylor played a perfect game and his vision was perfect, but Archuletta was trying to bury Taylor for running behind white jerseys instead of cutting toward a brown jersey. Argue with me all you want, I’m right. Taylor was right on this play. You don’t run toward an opposing player when you have blockers moving forward in front of you.

It really was starting to look good

This was right after the hold on another nice run from Taylor.

They battled back to a manageable third down

Anthony Castonzo’s loss was felt today but anyone with a functioning brain had to know it was going to be a problem. La’Raven Clark seems like a nice guy but he’s never developed into a starting caliber tackle, though this play wasn’t on Clark. The Browns ran a tough stunt and I would have to spend a lot more time on this play than I want to right now to tell you if you should be more upset with Braden Smith or Mark Glowinski. Just know this is what Rivers looks like without Castonzo in the lineup.


Fourth Quarter

Finally a stop

The Colts sent pressure and Mayfield didn’t have time to work his progressions. Had he done so he might have thrown the ball in the middle of the field where two pass catching options were being “covered” by a single linebacker. Instead Mayfield threw to OBJ who had man to man coverage against Rock Ya-Sin. Ya-Sin came up big and the defense got the stop.

This is what we did with it

It’s possible someone ran a post when they should have run a corner. If that’s true it means Rivers chucked this up without even looking in the direction of his receiver. I won’t put this all on Rivers, this play shouldn’t have been called. The Colts were killing it on the ground, you’re backed up, run the ball.

Hilton sighting

T.Y. Hilton had 6 catches for 69 (nice) yards. I’m not going to look it up, I’m confident this are both season highs for the Colts best receiver.

Inexcusable

I get that it was third down and he was trying to make a play but throwing two interceptions to this defense is bad and throwing them the way Philip Rivers threw them, shear panic, is worse.

Walker saving the day

Anthony Walker played a good game. At least on the first watch, I obviously have reviewed zero tape from this game, we just finished watching it, obviously. But based on what we all saw, Walker played really well.

Finally found a rhythm

It finally felt like the Colts were on to something with their passing offense, but like all good things, that rhythm came to an end. The Colts kicked a field goal and needed their defense to bail them out, one last time.

They just didn’t have it in them

Without this one play the Browns would have averaged 2.88 yards per rush. That said, you can’t take any plays out of the game and the Browns came up with a big one when they needed it.

I really thought he missed it

Cody Parkey, is famous for his double-doinked 43 yard field goal as a member of the Chicago Bears. Turns out when he plays for the Browns he only single-doinks fourth quarter field goals. And that’s how this one ended.


Final Thoughts For The Week

Here’s what I said in my final Browns scouting report this week:

I see this game being a close one, with that said it wouldn’t surprise me if one team put together a few good drives in a row and created a big enough point differential that the other team would be forced to go away from what it would normally try to do on offense to catch up. If the Colts lose this game and it feels like the Browns are dominating, don’t panic. You don’t have to celebrate it, but really, don’t panic. These Browns, barring injury, should be in the playoffs and they should expect to contend, this is a good team.

This is the best Browns team since the Browns made their return to the NFL. That’s not exactly difficult to do, all things considered, but assuming Baker Mayfield isn’t seriously injured, they are legitimate contenders in the AFC.

Don’t panic.

We’re on to the Bengals.