Robert Griffin III and the Browns offense essentially played against the Packers second team defense as Green Bay kept key starters idle, but they did not score a point in 2 drives.
Griffin came out firing on his first play of the game when he launched a beautiful ball deep to Terrelle Pryor, who ran under it and made a diving catch for a 49-yard gain. The next play saw him fumble the exchange with Isaiah Crowell but he was able to recover it before completing his next 2 passes – to tight end Gary Barnidge for 7, then Pryor for 8 more yards – to move the team down to the Packers 19.
After Crowell lost 2 yards on his only carry, Griffin was picked off by safety Micah Hyde at the 1 and it appeared that Barnidge didn’t finish his route cleanly. It was the first interception that Griffin threw since camp began.
“We have some work to do,” head coach Hue Jackson told Newschannel 5 at halftime. “We had some chances, but we have to not turn the ball over. One of our goals is to not turn the ball over. If you don’t turn it over, mostly good things are going to happen.”
Griffin’s second drive was a quick one as he completed just 1-of-4 passes before the Browns punted to finish the night 4-of-8 for 67 yards and the interception in his unofficial debut.
The good news is that young Browns had their moments Friday night where they flashed potential but they also showed they have much to learn. Here’s a look at the good and bad from the 17-11 loss to Green Bay.
– It’s entirely too early to pass any judgement but right tackle and center were not as strong as they need to be if the Browns want to keep Griffin in 1 piece this season. Cameron Erving was pushed back deep on a play, gave up one pressure and kicked his man out on another that may have been a blown assignment by Crowell who blocked to the left side leaving a linebacker a clear path to Griffin who quickly threw the ball into the dirt. On the right side, Austin Pasztor didn’t hold a block that allowed Griffin to get drilled again.
– Terrelle Pryor showed what a weapon he could be. He adjusted and went for the football on the 49-yard catch and just barely missed coming down with another deep ball early in the second quarter from Josh McCown. He finished with 2 catches for 57 yards.
– Chris Tabor’s special teams unit struggled early but recovered nicely. Wisconsin rookie Joe Schobert was called for running into the kicker to keep the Packers opening drive alive after be bumped into punter Tim Masthay. Then Raheem Mostert couldn’t catch a free kick after a safety and the Packers recovered at Cleveland’s 35. Credit the Browns defense for forcing a quick 3-and-out and a Mason Crosby 54-yard field goal following the turnover. Andy Lee averaged 51.3 yards on 4 punts. The punt coverage unit held Green Bay to 6 yards on 2 punt returns.
– Mostert had an interesting evening. He did his best to make good on the fumble by totaling 52 yards on 4 returns – 2 kickoff and 2 punt. He added a team-high 43 yards on the ground on 5 carries, including a nice 27 yard burst.
– Packers third-string quarterback Joe Callahan had few problems working against the Browns first and second team defenses. Callahan, who started slow, picked it up and finished 16-of-23 for 142 yards and a TD including a 12-play, 80-yard drive that saw him complete 7-of-10 passes for 67 yards and a 2-yard TD to John Crockett with 7 seconds left in the first half.
– Cody Kessler was the fourth QB to receive snaps behind Austin Davis. Kessler started hot with a 10-yard TD strike to fellow rookie Rashard Higgins but it was downhill from there for the third round pick. Kessler gave up 2 safeties – the first that saw him run out of the back of the end zone after losing track of where he was on the field while rolling right and evading pressure from from linebacker Reggie Gilbert. The second saw him caught at the goal line when he was sacked by defensive tackle Christian Ringo. Kessler did complete both of his passes for 15 yards, although he misfired on a 2-point attempt to Marlon Moore high and wide right. Chalk it up to quite the lesson learned.
– Rookies Carl Nassib and Emmanuel Ogbah shined – both recorded sacks and were active in pass coverage as well as stopping the run. Ogbah led the team with 6 tackles while Nassib finished with 3.
– As expected, the Browns run defense remains a work in progress. Packers starting back Eddie Lacy rolled off 24 quick yards on 4 carries before calling it a night and of the Packers 32 designed runs, 4 of them went for 6 or more yards.
– Barkevious Mingo played deep into the second half – even some at inside linebacker – but the only time he showed up was when he finally got into the backfield but completely whiffed on a would-be sack.
– Indie the numbers: The Packers owned just about every statistical category: first downs 19-11, 3rd down conversions 9/22-2/8, net yards 320-172, offensive plays 80-44, average gain 4.0-3.9 rushing 151-77, passing 169-95, turnovers 2-1, and time of possession 39:44-20:16.
– Something you don’t see every day, 3 safeties in the same game and the Indians outscored the Browns by beating the LA Angels of Anaheim 13-3 Friday night.
– Injuries: receiver Rannell Hall (ankle) and quarterback Austin Davis (concussion). Pryor (hand) and Crowell (shoulder) both reportedly underwent x-rays after the game.