CLEVELAND, Ohio — If you love trends, you have to love the 2018 Cleveland Browns. Each game so far has provided defensive takeaways, crucial Tyrod Taylor interceptions, field goal calamity, and, of course, a lack of winning.
On Sunday the Browns baked those ingredients into a 21-18 loss to the Saints. The Browns trailed for only 1 minute,
45 seconds of game time. They missed an opportunity to take the lead with 1:16 left, then an opportunity to tie with three seconds to play (Spoiler: you will read about opportunity below).
Before we all turn our attention to a Thursday night showdown with the Jets, here are the winners and losers from Week 2:
This really comes down to two things: 1. The Browns failed to win again. 2. Tyrod Taylor hasn’t done anything to keep us from wondering if Mayfield could do better.
The No. 1 pick in the draft will start eventually, but Sunday’s outcome — which included another late-game interception of Taylor — made that start date feel like it got a little closer. It doesn’t seem likely that Mayfield would get his first start on a short week with Taylor healthy. But then, this is the Browns. They don’t have a great history of sticking with the plan.
The big concern here, though, is Taylor’s ability to implode in crucial moments these first two weeks. Yeah, that touchdown pass to Antonio Callaway was nice, but let’s remember how we all got there (and why the Browns missed out on an opportunity to win at the end of regulation in Week 1.)
As Dan Labbe pointed out on Sunday, Taylor’s interceptions are undercutting the argument for keeping Mayfield on the bench.
The selling point on Tyrod is that he doesn't do things like that. If he does things like that, it's time to let Baker play.
— Dan Labbe (@dan_labbe) September 16, 2018
Instead, I’ll just point out that the defense has eight takeaways, and the offense has cashed those in for just 10 points. Gregg Williams has to feel like a kid at the Chuck E. Cheese prize counter, wondering how all those tickets only got him a kazoo, a plastic spider ring and a piece of gum.
Against the Steelers, the Browns scored off a turnover only after the defense returned a fumble to the Steelers 1-yard line. On Sunday, the Browns got the ball at the Saints 46-yard line twice after fumbles. They drove 25 yards the first time and got a field goal out of it. The next time they failed to convert a fourth-and-1 at the Saints 38.
#Browns offensive possessions after defense created turnover
Fumble 3–1-Missed FG
— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) September 16, 2018
WINNER: Larry Ogunjobi
Ogunjobi started at defensive tackle with Trevon Coley on Sunday and took down Drew Brees twice. He might’ve had a third sack if not for an illegal contact penalty in the secondary. He also had four solo tackles.
Larry Ogunjobi is ruining Max Unger’s life today.
— Robert Mays (@robertmays) September 16, 2018
LOSER: Zane Gonzalez (and @zanegonzo36)
At halftime, it looked like Gonzalez might be on the winner side of the ledger. He made a pair of 39-yard field goals to give the Browns a 6-3 lead. But he crumbled in the second half, missing two extra points and two field goals, including the potential game-tying kick from 52 yards in the final seconds.
Gonzalez might want to look to Cody Parkey for inspiration. Parkey was 1-for-3 in his Browns debut in 2016, including a miss at the end of regulation in a game the Browns lost to the Dolphins in OT. Parkey went on to make 19-of-22 the rest of the season.
But you have to wonder if there will be a rest of the season for Gonzalez.
Zane Gonzalez may not have a job next week.
— Brent Sobleski (@brentsobleski) September 16, 2018
Can Baker Mayfield kick?
— Adam Hill (@AdamHillLVRJ) September 16, 2018
And then there was this poor guy, who was just trying to enjoy his Sunday afternoon when his phone starting blowing up.
Guys, I’m just a college baseball coach. Relax pic.twitter.com/sA1m3TTWHs
— Zane Gonzalez (@ZaneGonzo36) September 16, 2018
(POTENTIAL WINNER: One of these guys)
Teams likely to be looking for kickers this week: Cleveland, Minnesota, Los Angeles Rams.
Top kickers on street: Dan Bailey, Cairo Santos, Sam Ficken, Roberto Aguayo, Jon Brown, Taylor Bertolet, Kai Forbath, Eddie Piniero, Georgia Tavecchio.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 16, 2018
WINNER: Antonio Callaway
But his big moment came on a 47-yard touchdown catch to tie the game with 1:16 left. Jaw-dropping doesn’t quite describe it. Really, it was Rajai Davis-esque.
Yes, I’m equating a touchdown in Week 2 of the NFL season to a home run in Game 7 of the World Series. But let’s not forget: the Browns haven’t won a game since Dec. 24, 2016.
And besides, like Davis’ homer, Callaway’s score wasn’t enough to get the win.
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) September 16, 2018
LOSER: Duke Johnson