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Value of Things: The Ins and Outs of Texans vs. Browns

What was the good, bad, and ugly from Sunday’s 36-22 loss?

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

There is a reason why the 1972 Dolphins were the last team to go undefeated. That was the year before I was born, so literally no one has done it in my lifetime. There are games when you just don’t have it. There are games where you just don’t match up well with your opponent. There are games where you get outcoached. There are games where all three happen. Sunday might have been one of those days.

This doesn’t say anything negative about DeMeco Ryans. He has gotten the better of his opponents more often than not and that is something most coaches can’t say. Just like against the Jets, you learn what you can and flush the rest. I’m sure they will focus most of their energy on the Titans and not worry too much about this one.

The Numbers

Total Yards

Cleveland Browns— 418
Houston Texans— 250

Rushing Yards

Browns— 30/54
Texans— 16/72

Passing Yards

Browns— 45/364
Texans— 52/178

Sacks

Browns— 3
Texans— 1

Turnovers

Browns— 2
Texans— 1

Penalties

Browns— 9/55
Texans— 10/76

Time of Possession

Browns— 33:34
Texans— 26:26

In most NFL games there are a few plays that mean the difference between winning and losing. That wasn’t true in this game. Maybe if you changed a half dozen plays it might have been competitive at some point, but the reality is that this game was a blowout from jump. All the numbers in the world won’t massage these results. So, let’s move onto the good the bad, and the ugly.

The Good

I strive for fairness. I know I come up short like all of us do, but I really try to be impartial. Dameon Pierce has been a popular punching bag around these parts this season. A lot of it has to do with expectations. People looked at an improved offensive line (on paper), improved play calling, and a better overall offense and assumed Pierce would become a 1,000 yard rusher. The opposite has happened as he definitely is not a scheme fit for what Bobby Slowik wants to do on offense.

Yet, he was the most consistent weapon the team had for three quarters. In three quarters, he outgained the Texans on just his kickoff returns including a 98-yard touchdown. That’s two kickoff returns for scores this season for the Texans. Frank Ross should be proud. Pierce still didn’t do anything on offense, but he had himself a day and he deserves a tip of the cap.

The Bad

Choosing between the bad and the ugly is a difficult choice. I will choose what we will likely not remember from this game. The passing offense was terrible, but statistically it wasn’t historically bad. Granted, Case Keenum won’t make anyone forget anyone from the Bill O’Brien era. It was a Brian Hoyer-esque performance if there ever was one. That’s not good, but that’s not historic.

Keenum was supposed to take good care of the ball but ended up throwing two interceptions. There were also a few drops here and there, plenty of penalties, and some bad throws. The combination stalled the offense until it really didn’t matter. Davis Mills moved the ball during garbage time which is what he is particularly good at doing. He threw a couple of touchdowns, so no one will remember the bad offense five years from now. In the grand scheme of things that is bad, but not historically bad.

The Ugly

When the story of this game is written the Amari Cooper’s eleven catches for 265 yards and two touchdowns will be remembered years from now. After all, it set a Browns’ record. That doesn’t even count the two point conversion he got in the second half. In my PPR fantasy league that would have been worth 45.5 points. That’s not half bad.

Derek Stingley might be a Pro Bowl corner now. PFF thinks so and his five interceptions would seem to think so too. I’m stretching my brain trying to figure out who other than Amari Cooper is the Brown’s top target. That’s over 1,200 yards receiving on the season through 15 games with a revolving door at quarterback, Why in all holy hell was Stingley not guarding him on every snap? He did occasionally, but most of the damage was done on Steven Nelson and other lesser corners. Maybe the all-22 will reveal some things I even told my counterpart in five questions to expect anyone else to beat the Texans because I naturally assumed Stingley would be on him. I guess I assumed wrong.

Quarterback Corner

There really isn’t much to say about this one. We have a debate in our fanbase between Mills Nation and Keenum Truthers (or is that reversed?). Keenum won a huge game in gritty fashion last week, so we really can’t be too harsh. Yet, this game shows us two very important things. First, it shows definitively the difference between C.J. Stroud and the other two guys. I think everyone instinctively knew that, but there were always whispers in the wilderness that those other guys would have been almost as good because of the improved playcalling and skill position guys around them.

There are reasons why backups are backups. If they were better they would probably be starters. Still, there are backups you would feel comfortable playing a game or two and there are those that are definitely limited. Keenum and Mills are limited for different reasons. Now is not the time to dive deep into a discussion about possible backup quarterbacks, but that discussion will likely come in January and February in advance of free agency.