Stillers-Browns Post-game analysis:
This was a good old fashioned whipping that this struggling club sorely needed. Coming off a bitter 5-game losing streak from '98, combined with a hideous preseason, we need to do MORE than simply squeak by the Brownnosers�.we needed a full-blown thrashing. 43-0 has a nice ring to it, especially versus the hated Browns.
QB: Stewart had a solid nite. He seemed fairly poised in the pocket, though it should be noted that Cleve's vanilla defense did virtually nothing to rattle or harass him all nite. He did thrown some poor passes that missed wide open receivers, plus he missed seeing a WIDE open Bruener in the EZ, and instead threw the ball away. His running was pretty confident and good, though I felt he hesitated way too long on the failed 4th down QB sneak on the 1st drive, plus he stood straight up rather than burrowing low for the needed inch. Stewart also burned about 4 TOs tonite from apparent confusion, though some of it might be the fault of the OC. All in all, an acceptable night from the Western Union Man. Grade: B+.
RB: The Bus was back, and with a bang. He averaged 4.9 YPC and ran with good authority. It's apparent that he spent a lot of time sitting at the dinner table during the preseason, but all in all looked pretty good. Hunt had 1 TD run and 2 TD grabs. and overall played quite well. Amos had 16 carries, and while his YPC was low, had some nice runs and showed some great quickness. Jon Wittman, the million-dollar wonderboy, did very little. He finsihed with 2 catches for a whopping 9 yards, and 3 carries for 11 yds. Wittman, the supposedly "great pass cacther", also dropped a pass right in his gut on a short out. His blocking was spotty all nite. He did have a few nice blocks, but then mixed in a few poor ones, too. On the play that Jurkovic lost his helmet on in the 1st qtr, Witt TRIED to block Jamir Miller, but Miller stood Wittman STRAIGHT UP and crumpled him, thus clogging the enitre play into a quagmire. We actually may have found ourselves a FB in Huntley. Hunt threw some nice blocks. Hunt's 3d TD (plus 1 other grab) was actually a play in which he lined up at FB, and caught a short out pass, and broke the play into the EZ. If Gilbride truly wants a shifty FB who can catch and make things happen, Huntley is FAR more qualified to do so than the bootfooted Jon Shittman. A.
WR: Because we had such an easy time blowing the Brown DL off the ball, these men didn't have a lot to do tonite. They chipped in well, but were not severely tested under pressure. Ward had a great game, making a superb catch on his TD, plus catching a fairly long pass down the sideline. Both Hawk and Blackie picked up right where they left off last year -- with relatively punty YPC's of 9.0 each. (Blackie got a concussion and had to leave the game). Sure, they chipped in, but neither man is worthy of being a starter. Troy did drop 1 pass on a slant in traffic, but had 4 grabs for 45 yds. Shaw contributred nicely in the 5 WR set with 3 grabs. A.
TE: Breuner was wide open in the EZ, as I mentioned, but was ignored. He was ignored the rest of the game, too. He blocked pretty good. All in all, it's games like this that makes me gush with glee that we signed Bruener to a massive multi-year deal that ties up around $2.5 million dollars per year of scarce cap money. If this continues, I'll simply factor in Breuner's grade into the OL's grade, just as I was forced to do last year. Grade: Inc.
OL: The line play was pretty solid all nite, although they were going up against a pretty soft and disorganized Brown defense. Wayne Candy and Pelican Conrad played ok at time, but at times they dicked things up with shoddy movement &/or blocking. The line did get some good push ost of the time, and the pass blocking was more than adequate. This grade would be higher if the opponent were better than a team destined to finish 2-14. B+.
DL: The line play was fairly solid. Cleve had little room to run, and the OL of Cleve never got much push. Jeremy Staat finally contributed in a regular season NFL game!! Problem was, he contributed to the Browns by being offsides on a 2d down inc. pass near game's end. B.
LB: Kirk and Holmes dominated the middle of the field, stuffing the meager Cleve running game and providing some pass pressure as well. Carlos Emmons -- The Mil Carton Man -- did little all nite. He did have 1 QB pressure that resulted in a Detmer throwaway, but this was the result of a Flowers outside blitz that allowed the Milk Carton Man to escape obscurity for 1 play, and come in untouched. Jason Gildong picked up right where he left off last year, recording his 1st Dong Sack of the '99 campaign!! On this play, Detmer faded back, but then scrambled to his left. Gildong was being blocked by #44, who obviously was either a FB or RB. Detmer held foolishly held onto the ball forever, and finally Gildong looped around the RB and got the sack. BIG FUCKING DEAL. If people are all ga-ga over a Dong Sack like that, then they should have a stethoscope rammed up their ass. Otherwise, Gildong did NOTHING the entire game. That Dong Sack was his ONLY tackle of the game. On the Oldham INT, Gildong did an inside stunt, and was literally planted ON HIS BACK by the OG or center. The play after the Dong Sack, Gildong was blasted by one of the offensive lineman and shoved to the ground. Since he's a rookie, Joey Porter was not "allowed" to play, until the game reached blowout proportions, and he was inserted for mop-up duty. Sure enough, Porter made an ELECTRIC move around the LT, swooped in on the QB, and chopped the ball away as he sacked Tim Slouch. THIS is the kind of IMPACT, game-breaking play our defense SORELY lacked last year, and it is evident that Porter, and ONLY Porter, is the ONLY OLB on this roster who can create this kind of havoc and impact. A.
DB: Cleve began the nite by picking on, and abusing, Chad Scott, using Shephard for this task. Chad tightened up his game a bit, and did pretty good. OTherwise, our DBs were rarely tested. Shields and Oldman had nice INTs. B+.
Spec Teams: Brown missed an asy 29 yard FG, but made ewasy FGs of 19,18, and 28. We saw soemthing tonite we haven'e seen in over 4 years -- a touchback on a kickoff!! Hot damn!! It'd been so long, I wasn't sure if the touchback was still part of the rulebook. MOst of Browns' KOs were pretty good. The coverage teams were solid. Troy showed a few nice flashes on returns, though the lousy footing caused a lot of slips. B.
Offensive Coord: I was fairly pleased by what we saw tonite. The 5 WR sets, the QB draw, the fake sneak & pitch, and the use of Hunt and Amos were all good. I'm still not too enamored with these worthless little dink passes to Wittman, as they serve no useful purpose to set up anything else, nor can they ever possibly gain much yardage. I also felt that Cleve. did Gilbride a HUGE favor with such a vanilla defense. Rest assured that Ray Lewis and Co. next week will not play such a "sit back" kind of defense. The silly-assed excessive TOs must at least partially be blamed on Gilbride, and must be corrected quickly.
Def Coord: There's not much to grade on report when your inept expansion opponent has Detmer at QB and virtually no grade-A skill players. I cannot in good conscience issue a grade here. And, Porter NOT getting REAL playing time is at the very least SOME of Jim Asslet's fault. Asslet was a LB, and he ought to be kicking down Cowhead's door, demanding more PT for Porter. Inc.
Head Coach: Cowhead, after a 6-year period of overly ppor openers, will relish this one for a long time. Hopefully not too long, of course. My biggest gripe today was the PATHETIC drive at the end of the 1st half. We got the ball back at our own 46 after a punt, with about 3:36 left in the half. 5 runs and 2 passes later (and the passes were a 5-yard crosser to Blackie and a 2-ayrd dumpoff to Bettis), we kick a fucking FG with 10 secs on the clock. There was ABSOLUTELY no push for a TD AT ALL in this drive. After each play, there was no hurry-up; we slothed back to the huddle, then walked up to the line, etc. Then, after Kordell's sneak gave us a 1st down with 10 secs left on the Cleve 16, Cowhead refuse to allow Stewart a shot at the EZ, instead immediately sending in Brown for a FG. I blame this bullshit charade entirely on Field Goal Bill. It was this exact turtle mentality, and Field Goal Bills' "I got scared" mentality, that caused us to let Detroit and Cinci off the hook in losses last season. Sure, we were up 17-0 in this game at the time, but shouldn't we have used this as an opportunity to test the mettle and cohesion of Kordell and the offense?? If Cowhead doesn�t have confidence in Stewart to throw the ball away in a 17-0 blowout versus an expansion team, what will he think when we are facing Jax. on Dec 2d, and perhaps are down 14-3 in that same situation?? B-.
Synopsis: This was a "nice" win. It gets the ball rolling, and gives the team some confidence and a renewal of what it tastes like to win. On the other hand, let's not make this game out to be anything more than it was. Cleve is an expansion team playing its 1st game ever, and it showed. It would be foolish to think that this offense can score 43 points every week. Balt. will be a much sterner test next week, especially with their defense.
The Still Mill