The Cleveland Browns narrowly escaped from Indianapolis with a victory over the Colts. The Browns extended their record to 4-2 with a second straight win this month. The game was chaotic from the very start to the last play of the game. P.J. Walker led the Browns to victory with the help of the Browns’ run game. Kareem Hunt scored two touchdowns, including the game-winning touchdown, while Jerome Ford had one touchdown on a 69-yard run during the first quarter. It was refreshing to watch the Browns rely on a strong run game to will the team to victory.
The Browns’ run game wasn’t the only unit that won the game for the team. The defense played extremely well against the Colts. They forced Gardner Minshew into multiple turnovers, including a costly fumble in the endzone that the Browns recovered for a touchdown. The victory over the Colts took the entire team. It was ugly, it was dirty, some may say it was undeserved, but a win is a win and I’ll take it any way I can.
Let’s shine a light on the studs and duds in the Browns’ messy victory over the Colts.
Stud: Myles Garrett
The league has not seen a more dominant game from a defensive player in over three decades. While updated Defensive Player of the Year odds are not yet out, I assume he will tie Micah Parsons for first place after today. Garrett’s influence in the game is almost too immense to be properly stated. The turnovers he created contributed to over 20 points for the Browns, almost guaranteeing them the victory.
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) October 22, 2023
The Colts had zero answers for Garrett. It didn’t matter which lineman blocked him or how many blocked him, Garrett was a one-man army. He would go through linemen, around linemen, he would even go over them. Colts’ quarterback Gardner Minshew was running for his life during the game. Credit to him, he was able to make a few plays out of it. However, there’s a reason why most quarterbacks the Browns have faced are panicking to throw the ball in the first couple of seconds.
His name is Myles Garrett; he’s faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. After the game, Anthony Walker Jr. told reporters “He’s [Garrett] Superman.” Today that was the case as the Hero wearing the number 95 across his chest saved the day for the Cleveland Browns.
Stud: CB Denzel Ward
Denzel Ward had a dominant day in a challenging game for the defensive backfield. Quarterback Gardner Minshew connected on multiple deep throws against a talented Browns defensive backfield. It was uncharacteristic for the group. Ward helped flip the game with a crucial interception, a pass deflection, and four tackles. He also scooped up the ball football on the blocked field goal, returning it inside the Colts 30-yard line.
Ward exited the game briefly to be examined for a concussion, and the Colts immediately drove down the field as the Browns failed to find a quick replacement for the All-Pro. Ward did not have a concussion, thankfully. The cornerback suffered his fourth concussion as a professional in August of this year. I fear for Ward and the team’s sake anytime he has a head injury. Both Ward, the player, and his brain are irreplaceable. There is no better cornerback in the NFL than Denzel Ward this season. Ward once again proved that against the Colts.
Stud: TE David Njoku
David Njoku has hit his stride in recent weeks. The warrior is quickly building a repertoire with backup quarterback P.J. Walker. Njoku had five receptions for 54 yards on nine targets. The efficiency isn’t quite there with Njoku, but the trust in him is quickly growing throughout the entire offense. Njoku is a security blanket for Walker, and hopefully that chemistry transfers to Deshaun Watson later on in the season. Njoku is a good runner after the catch, he’s strong and nimble, always fighting for the extra yards.
Njoku isn’t just an aggressive player in the passing game, he’s been tenacious as a blocker this season. Against the Colts, helped out in a myriad of ways including a cut block against Colts’ defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. Njoku has taken up the mantle as a leader for the offense. He does everything that’s asked of him, giving his full effort on every play. Hopefully, the tight end continues to be rewarded in the passing game.
Dud: The Quarterbacks
The quarterbacks are grouped as neither of them looked even subpar against the Colts. They were flat-out bad. While Watson has looked horrible in his time with the Browns, it’s mainly been due to bad weather, but now it’s his shoulder. His shoulder looked severely injured to this bystander. His arm lacked any sort of elasticity as he whipped the ball during throws. His first interception is hard to classify as a throw, as the technique resembled more of a shot put. His game against the Colts is extremely worrying to fans and the franchise.
While the quarterback is medically cleared to play, Watson and the team may want to explore surgical options for him. The Browns need Watson to shake off the rust he accumulated over the past handful of years, but to do that he must be healthy. The Browns’ investment in Watson should encourage the organization to be more cautious, even if the team needs to see some return on investment. The organization cannot force this issue in hopes of finding an answer.
P.J. Walker looked a beat slow against the Colts. Walker looked out of place after a fine game against a talented 49ers defense. Unlike last week, Walker was slow to get Amari Cooper involved in the game. Once the quarterback got Cooper involved the Browns offense finally started to find its rhythm. Walker is a backup, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be ready to play. Especially in Cleveland.
Dud: Defensive Backs' Communication Skills
[lawrence-auto-related count=5 category=1361]