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MORSE: Preview of Patriots’ Week 6 Opponent – Cleveland Browns

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
2 months ago at 10:07 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

MORSE: Preview of Patriots’ Week 6 Opponent – Cleveland BrownsuNov 14, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Cleveland Browns outside linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (28) tackles New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson (38) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns present a formidable opponent for the Patriots’ week 6 opponent.  Not many think much of the Browns and to look past them would be a mistake.  Per Football Outsiders, the Browns are #12 in overall DVOA.  The Patriots are #16.  The Browns Offense is ranked #4 per Pro Football Focus.

Offense

3WR 1 TE

STARTER 2ND 3RD 4TH
QB Jacoby Brissett Joshua Dobbs Kellen Mond Deshaun Watson SUSP
RB Nick Chubb Kareem Hunt D’Ernest Johnson Jerome Ford IR
WR Amari Cooper Anthony Schwartz Jakeem Grant Sr IR
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones Demetric Felton Jr Isaiah Weston IR
WR David Bell Michael Woods II
TE David Njoku Harrison Bryant Pharaoh Brown Jesse James IR
LT Jedrick Wills Jr. James Hudson
LG Joel Bitonio Drew Forbes
C Ethan Pocic Michael Dunn Nick Harris IR Dawson Deaton IR
RG Wyatt Teller Hjalte Froholdt
RT Jack Conklin Chris Hubbard Joe Haeg

 

Jacoby Brissett is holding down the QB position until Deshaun Watson comes off his suspension.  His numbers are pretty good as he is ranked as the #10 QB in the league.  The former Patriots draft pick has 103 completions on 161 throws for a 64% completion rate and 1060 passing yards.  He has thrown for 5 TD against 3 INTs and has an 85.4 QB rating.  All this despite the fact the Browns have a sub-par receiving corps.

Running the ball is what Cleveland does well.  Nick Chubb leads the way with 98 rushes for 593 yards, a 6.1 average, 7 TDs, and 0 fumbles.  Kareem Hunt is no slouch either with 57 carries for 247 yards. 4.3 average 2 TDs and 0 fumbles.  Hunt is also a dangerous receiver with 14 catches on 16 targets for 83 yards, a 5.9 average, and a TD.   Jacoby Brissett can also run and has 21 carries for 112 yards, a 5.3 average, and a TD. The Browns want to establish the run game to set up the passing game just like the Patriots.

The Achilles heel of the Browns is their receiving corps.  Amari Cooper is the big threat with 27 catches on 43 targets, 304 yards, 11.3 average, and 2 TDs.  TE David Njoku is 2nd on the team with 24 catches on 29 targets, 289 yards, a 12-yard average, and a TD.  Donavan People-Jones is a big target and has 16 targets on 31 targets, 191 yards, 11.9 average, and 0 TDs.

The Browns’ strength is their Offensive Line.  They received the Offensive Line of the week from Pro Football Focus because they didn’t give up a sack and only had 4 QB pressures.  Warren Sharp in his Season analysis had the Browns’ Offensive Line as the #1 group in the league.  The Browns O-line is led by Guard Joel Bitonio.  He is a guy I wanted the Patriots to draft and is a perennial Pro Bowler.  The Nevada product enters his 9th year in the league as a 2nd-round selection in the 2014 draft.  In 2021 he was selected as a 1st team All-Pro.  He was a 3-time 2nd team All-Pro and was selected as a 4-time Pro-Bowler.  Bitonio hasn’t missed a game in the last 5 years.   Jedrick Wills is the starting LT.  He was Cleveland’s 1st round selection in the 2020 draft out of Alabama.   Ethan Pocic holds down the Center position.  Another SEC product, Pocic played at LSU.  He was a 2017 2nd by Seattle.  Wyatt Teller is the RG.  The Virginia Tech product was originally drafted by Buffalo in the 5th round of the 2018 draft.  He signed a 4-year extension with Cleveland for $56.8M in 2021.  That is a significant amount, averaging $14M a year.  That tells you what Cleveland thinks of him.  Jack Conklin rounds out the starters at Right Tackle.   The Michigan State alum was drafted in the 1st round (#8) in the 2016 draft.  Cleveland obtained him as an Unrestricted Free Agent in 2020.  He signed a 3-year $42M contract with an Average Annual Salary of $14M a year.  That’s 3 high 1st round picks.  Cleveland is not afraid to pay their O-lineman.  Former Patriots Draft Pick Hjlarte Froholdt is a backup guard for the Browns.

TE David Njoku is a big threat in the passing game, especially with Jacoby Brissett at QB.  Brissett has a tendency to target the TE often.  He is an athletic, big target for the Browns.

Defense

Base 4-3

STARTER 2ND 3RD 4TH
LDE Myles Garrett Isaiah Thomas Isaac Rochell Chase  Winovich IR
LDT Jordan Elliot Tommy Togiai
RDT Taven Bryan Perrion Winfrey
RDE Jadeveon Clowney Alex Wright Stephen Weatherly IR
WLB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah Tony Fields
MLB Jacob Phillips Deion Jones IR Anthony Walker  Jr. IR
SLB Sione Takitaki Jordan Kunaszyk
LCB Denzel Ward Q A.J. Green Greedy Williams IR
SS Grant  Delpit Ronnie Harrison Jr.
FS John Johnson D’Anthony Bell
RCB Greg Newsome Martin Emerson Jr.

 

The Browns’ formidable pass rush (Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney ) has not been enough to balance a shaky secondary.  Cleveland’s defense is ranked 30th in the league.  They give up big plays in the passing game and their run defense is 2nd worst to Detroit (EPA of .093 vs Detroit’s .094).  The Patriots should be able to run on Cleveland and if they sell out to stop the run the play-action pass game will kill them.  Look for Cleveland to blitz a lot no matter who is at QB.  Last week Cleveland gave up 238 yards overall on the ground and Austin Ekeler had 178 yards on only 16 carries.

Let us start with Myles Garrett.  He is a force and will give Isaiah Wynn fits.  The Patriots may need to chip him with the TE to slow him down.  Garrett The 2017 1st overall pick is coming into his 6th year in the league.  The Texas A&M Aggie is a two-time 1st team All-Pro, once Second-team All-Pro, and 4 time Pro- Bowl selection.  Garrett has 61.5 Career sacks, and 3 of those came in the 4 games he has played this season.  Jadeveon Clowney is the other bookend.  Entering his 9th season, Clowney, the former 1st overall selection in the 2014 draft by Houston has 41.5 career sacks. He has been nicked up and missed three games this year with an ankle injury.  He came back last week with a 5 tackle performance against Los Angeles Chargers Taven Bryan is a former 1st round pick from Florida.  He was drafted in 2018 and has had 88 total tackles in his career.  At 6’ 5” and only 291 lbs it appears that he can be easily moved out with just man-blocking. Bryan has missed time with a nagging hamstring injury this year.   Jordan Elliot is the other Defensive Tackle.  He has been the healthy one on the D-line.  Elliott was a 3rd round pick in 2020 out of Missouri.  He played one year for Texas before he transferred to Missouri (SEC).  Elliott only has 8 tackles on the season.  Clowney and Garrett only have 10 tackles (5 of Clowney’s came against LAC last week).

The Linebackers are called upon to make the tackles.    It starts with weakside linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.  The Notre Dame product was a 2020 2nd-round pick.  He is one of the new breed of LBs that are 6’2” and 220 lbs.  In comparison, our safeties (Dugger, Phillips, and Peppers) are bigger than Owuso-Koramoah.  His 20 tackles rank 4th on the team.  Jacob Phillips leads the LBs as the Middle Linebacker, with 29 tackles.  The former LSU Tiger was the 2020 3rd-round pick.  Phillips has struggled this year and he is only 6’3”, 229 lbs.  The Strongside LB is Sione Takitaki, another small LB at 6’1” 238 lbs.  The former BYU Cougar was  3rd round pick by Cleveland in the 2019 draft.  Takitaki has only 12 tackles in 5 games.

The secondary is making a lot of tackles but that may be because the front seven aren’t.  Safety Grant Delpit leads the team with 30 tackles.  The 2020 2nd-round pick from LSU also has an INT this year.  Denzel Ward is their best DB.  The 2018 1st-round pick (#4 overall) from Ohio State has an INT and 6 Pass Breakups to go along with 20 tackles.  John Johnson is the Free Safety.  The former Boston College Eagle signed a $33.75M contract with Cleveland in 2021 plucking him away from LA Rams in Free Agency.  He had 61 tackles and 3 INTs last year.  So far this season he is 2nd on the team in tackles with 29, but doesn’t have any INTs.  He is relatively slow for safety.

 

Special Teams

 

STARTER 2ND 3RD 4TH
PK Cade York
P Corey Bojorquez
H Corey Bojorquez
PR Demetric Felton Donovan Peoples-Jones Jakeem Grant IR
KR David Bell Jerome Ford IR Jakeem Grant
LS Charley Hughlett

 

Punter Corey Bojorquez was a former UnDrafted Free Agent signed by the Patriots in 2018.  He was cut and picked up by Buffalo and played three seasons there.  The LA Rams had him in camp in 2021 but traded him to Green Bay where he kicked an 82-yard punt, good for the best punt in 2021.  He was signed by Cleveland as a Free Agent. Bojorquez is the 15th-ranked Punter so far this season.  Cade York is middle of the pack at 15th among all Kickers.  Folk is 13th.   Demetric Felton was a player I thought the patriots might have been interested in.  The RB/WR from UCLA is ranked 18th in punt returns.

 

Injuries

Cleveland

Joel Bitonio G Elbow DNP
Jadeveon Clowney DE Ankle, Knee, and Elbow DNP
Amari Cooper WR Rest DNP
Ronnie Harrison DB Illness DNP
Denzel Ward DB Concussion DNP
Yavern Bryan DT Hamstring LP
Myles Garrett DE Shoulder, Bicep & Hand LP
Perrion Winfrey DT Ankle LP

 

 

New England

Nelson Agholor WR Hamstring LP
David Andrews C Back LP
Lawrence Guy DT Shoulder LP
Damien Harris RB Hamstring DNP
Jonathan Jones DB Ankle LP
Mac Jones QB Ankle LP
Raekwon McMillan LB Thumb LP
Jakobi Meyers WR Knee LP
Jalen Mills CB Hamstring LP
Demarcus Mitchell LB Concussion LP
Jonnu Smith TE Ankle LP

 

Comings and Goings

Patriots waived WR/TE Lil’ Jordan Humphries from the 53-man roster.  Perhaps they are going to fill that spot with a Runningback from the Practice Squad (JJ Taylor or Kevin Harris).  They also waived OT Sebastion Guitierrez, who was signed last week.  They filled the Practice Squad spot with special teams contributor LB Calvin Munson.

 

Morse’s Morsels

  • Congrats to Matthew Judon for being selected Defensive Player of the Week for Week 5 against the Lions.
  • Per PFF, Jack Jones is ranked as the #1 CB in the league after 5 weeks. His rating is 91.2.  This is the best of all players, not just 1st-year players.
  • Per Mike Felger, Detroit was in FG position 7 times in the game. They got no points for their effort.  If they just kicked the FGs and if they don’t give up a strip sack and then a scoop and score, the score would have been NE 22 – DET 21!  I think the end of that game would have been different.  K Austin Siebert was hurt.
  • Damien Harris is likely out multi weeks with a hamstring injury.

 

Bottom Line 

The Patriots are the superior team.  If the Patriots can establish the run and not turn the ball over, they will win.  Belichick will find a weakness in the Browns’ run game and turn them into a one-dimensional team.   If the Browns fall behind, I don’t think their pass offense is better than the Patriots’ secondary.  It should be a close game and I don’t see why the Browns are favored in this game.   I like the Patriots to win this game!


Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: 2022 Patriots Season Cleveland Browns New England Patriots

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