What We Saw: Week 1

The QB List team recaps everything you missed while you were glued to the couch watching Red Zone

Browns @ Panthers

Final Score: Browns 26, Panthers 24

Writer: Ryan Radel (@RadelFF on Twitter)

 

The Cleveland Browns hit the road to open the season against Carolina Panthers, the team to which the Browns just so happened to trade their disgruntled former first overall draft selection Baker Mayfield. The story basically writes itself as a revenge game for Baker as well as the Browns defense, who seemed to simply never be on the same page last season. It was an eventful and sometimes sloppy game from start to finish, with an unlikely hero arising to help Cleveland claim their first week one victory since 2004.

 

 

Cleveland Browns

 

Quarterback

Jacoby Brissett:18/34, 147 Yards, 1 TD, Sack | 4 Carries, 10 Yards

 

The Browns offense is going to be run-oriented as long as Deshaun Watson is suspended, and for good reason. Jacoby Brissett isn’t a bad quarterback, but he’s also not great and has been a journeyman for a reason. Brissett is mostly asked to be a game-manager while the Browns pound the ball on the ground, but you would like to see a completion rate higher than 53%. Brissett missed several short-yardage throws, especially throws towards the sidelines and shots down the field. Without an effective run game, the Browns would’ve been in big trouble, but Brissett was effective enough in the red zone.

 

Running Back

Nick Chubb: 22 Carries, 141 Yards | 1 Target, 1 Reception, 2 Yards

Kareem Hunt: 11 Carries, 46 Yards, 1 TD | 4 Targets, 4 Receptions, 24 Yards, TD

Demetric Felton Jr.: 1 Target, Fumble (Special Teams)

 

Speaking of the run game, the Browns had over 30 designed runs and over 200 yards on the ground which is exactly what they need to be doing to win football games. Nick Chubb was fed from start to finish and averaged an astounding 6.4 yards per carry as the Browns leaned on him to move the ball up and down the field. Chubb ran over, around, and through the defense all day. Kareem Hunt stole the show with two scores, although he wasn’t as effective with his touches – just a measly 4.2 yards per carry and 5+ yards per reception (that’s sarcasm). It’s clear this is the style of the game the Browns will aim for each week as they rely on their incredibly talented backfield duo. Chubb will get the majority of the work on the ground while Hunt will get the majority of the targets in the passing game, as is tradition. The Browns had several packages with both Hunt and Chubb on the field as well.

 

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

Donovan Peoples-Jones: 11 Targets, 6 Receptions, 60 Yards

Anthony Schwartz: 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 19 Yards | 2 Carries, 20 Yards

Harrison Bryant: 4 Targets, 2 Receptions, 18 Yards

Amari Cooper: 6 Targets, 3 Receptions, 17 Yards

David Njoku: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 7 Yards

 

With Brissett struggling with accuracy issues all game, his receivers did not have a lot of opportunities to put up big stats. They did, however, bring in several crucial first downs on short passes over the middle of the field. Donovan Peoples-Jones was the favorite target of Brissett receiving 11 targets and bringing in most of his catchable targets for 60 yards. The tight ends were both involved, with five total targets going to Harrison Bryant and David Njoku in a lot of short-yardage situations. Amari Cooper was used almost exclusively over the middle to secure first downs but had more than one uncatchable target. The Browns playcalling was creative as well, getting their Olympic track star the ball in space to let him do his thing.

 

 

Carolina Panthers

 

Quarterback

Baker Mayfield: 16/27, 235 Yards, 1 TD, 1 Int, 4 Sacks | 5 Carries, 6 Yards, 1 TD, 4 Fumble (Recovered)

 

This was a very typical Baker Mayfield game. Some rough mistakes, some bad turnovers, some absolute bombs to downfield receivers, batted balls at the line, drive-saving scrambles; you get the gist. The offensive line for the Panthers was outmatched on the edge as Baker was brought down four times and hit or hurried on several other occasions. One of his fumbles was a mishandled snap and Baker needs to do a better job of taking care of the ball. It’s not every game you are going to fumble four times and not lose any of them. Another issue the Panthers must figure out is how to avoid batted balls at the line of scrimmage as five of Baker’s attempts were batted down at the line. You never know what those plays could’ve become. Baker kept the Panthers in the game and even seized the lead with just over a minute left. He had a couple of impact plays that resulted in scores, such as this scramble up the middle to score late in the game.

 

Running Back

Christian McCaffrey: 10 Carries, 33 Yards, 1 TD | 4 Targets, 4 Receptions, 24 Yards | 1 Fumble (Recovered)

D’Onta Foreman: 2 Carries, 5 Yards

Chuba Hubbard: 1 Carry, 3 Yards

 

Backup running backs D’Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard saw action just to give their oft-injured superstar a breather. I will tell you one thing, it was great to see Christian McCaffrey back out there doing Christian McCaffrey things. The offensive line struggled with run blocking just as much as they did in pass protection, but McCaffrey made the most of his touches. Due to the game script, the Panthers had to take shots downfield throughout the game which limited McCaffrey’s potential upside. He was able to find paydirt earlier in the game with this hurdle over the pile:

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

DJ Moore: 6 Targets, 3 Receptions, 43 Yards | 1 Carry, 7 Yards

Robbie Anderson: 8 Targets, 5 Receptions, 102 Yards, 1 TD

Ian Thomas: 3 Targets, 2 Receptions, 53 Yards

Shi Smith: 3 Targets, 1 Reception, 12 Yards

Tommy Tremble: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 1 Yard

 

Just for context, the majority of the production from this group was due to busted coverage from the Browns defense. Regardless, the receivers still got open and brought in the target. DJ Moore was involved in both the air and ground game, although he wasn’t able to find a lot of room for the most part. Baker looked his way mainly between the 20’s. Shi Smith and Tommy Tremble each had a reception, with Smith’s going for a first down. Ian Thomas did most of his damage with a 50-yard reception that set up his team for a score two plays later. The standout amongst this group was Robbie Anderson, who made the Browns pay for letting him get behind them with this 75-yard bomb that put the Panthers within two points in the fourth quarter.

 

 

Thanks for reading and see you next week!

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