The Cleveland Browns showed their resilience as the defense, led by defensive end Myles Garrett, dominated the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Last week, the Browns’ season seemed lost after the Nick Chubb injury, but today the team is riding high off a 27-3 win. The offense had a hard time getting started but found its footing in the second quarter.
Deshaun Watson looked accurate and in rhythm for the first time in a Browns uniform. He had the offense humming both through the air and on the ground. In some respects, he finally looked like the player the Browns sacrificed so much for. The Browns will need to keep Watson confident to build upon the recent success. Watson still has streaks of reckless plays when trying to play hero ball.
His attempt to avoid a sack by throwing a backward pass to Elijah Moore was one of the dumbest things I’ve seen a Browns quarterback do during a game. The Browns cannot have their quarterback lose composure like that again.
On defense, the Browns continued to lock down opposing offenses. The Titans scored 3 points but had the most sustained success of any of the Browns’ opponents. The Titans were able to get into the red zone multiple times on Sunday. The Browns had not given up a red zone possession before the game. So while the Titans left the field with only three points, that’s more points than the Bengals or Steelers got from the red zone. The Browns’ defense has been outstanding to start the season.
Every week they make up the majority of the stud list, and this week is no different. The stars on this team are playing like stars.
Stud: DE Myles Garrett
Stud: WR Amari Cooper
Amari Cooper has been a symbol of excellence and consistency since he became a Browns player. The former top-5 pick proved that once again on Sunday, stepping into the role left by Nick Chubb. The wide receiver had 7 receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown. Amari should’ve had more yards and touchdowns, but an inadvertent whistle from a ref robbed him of another 40 yards.
The receiver also drew multiple holding and pass interference penalties all day, including a clutch penalty on third down. Watson and Cooper have had a hard time building an on-field rapport with each other. Something Watson spoke to reporters about last week. Hopefully, this game marks a change in their relationship as they continue to build upon it.
Stud: CB Denzel Ward
Denzel Ward has had a spectacular start to the season, creating a no-fly zone on defense. Ward’s impact hasn’t been limited to the passing game; the cornerback has excelled in the run game as a hard hitter. Sunday was no different. When Ward wasn’t shutting down DeAndre Hopkins or Treylon Burks, he was making plays near the line of scrimmage.
It’s rare for a cornerback to make an impact at every level of the field asWard is doing. Only Jalen Ramsey has done it consistently but with Jalen’s injury, the title for the best cornerback in the NFL is a wide-open race. Three weeks into the season,Ward has the inside track in that race.
Dud: RB Jerome Ford
Jerome Ford had a rough first start. The Titans’ run defense is extremely disciplined and skilled, creating a challenge for running backs to find creases and space. Ford ran the ball 10 times for 18 yards and one touchdown, with one of the runs accounting for half the yardage. The young running back’s day wasn’t completely horrible.
Ford had the first touchdown of the day on a nasty sluggo (slant-and-go) route from out wide. The route takes a lot of craftiness and is usually not run by a running back. Unfortunately, as a running back, Ford looked indecisive and seemed to be running higher than he should. The inexperienced Ford will hopefully grow into his own as the season commences.
Dud: CB M.J. Emerson
MJ Emerson had a rough day in his first official “start” of the season. The young cornerback has always had a problem with bigger and tougher receivers that can challenge his physicality. However, nothing seemed to go right for Emerson; for example, on a fourth-and-four late in the second half, Emerson gave up a 30-yard pass after the ball ricocheted off his helmet. On a third and long, he was flagged for pass interference that kept the Titans on the field. I don’t want to be too hard on Emerson.
The defense as a whole gave up less than 100 total yards and only allowed three points, so the plays he gave up were largely negligible. However, this type of over-analyzation is a good sign for a defense that doesn’t leave much to criticize. Martin Emerson will have a bounce-back game soon enough.