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*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
When I was prepping this re-watch, I went into thinking/remembering that the Chargers just smacked around the Browns and that Baker Mayfield struggled and that the Browns were being the Browns. After re-watching it, I would say the Chargers played well and deserved to win…but they were very lucky in this game. It was a 38-14 final…but I’d say Cleveland may have outplayed them/been the better team until they succumbed to the game just beating them down.
It was 7-3 LAC into the 2nd quarter, and the Chargers had just run the worst trick play in the history of football -- a quick pass to Keenan Allen who threw it back to slow-ass Philip Rivers who could move to get the toss to him from halfway across the field…it became a loose ball fumble, and the Browns just missed landing on it to set up easy scoring position to push ahead. Instead, LAC would punt out of it and next series Philip Rivers threw a bomb to the end zone into triple coverage and Tyrell Williams yanked away an INT and turned it into a TD. It was that kind of day for the Browns…could have easily been 10-7 Browns, but was quickly 14-3 LAC. The Chargers next TD, before half, another Tyrell great grab bomb…on the play the Chargers left tackle jumped offside so obviously – but, inexplicably, no flag. The Browns defenders had slowed on the obvious offside that never came. Typical Browns luck.
Credit to the Browns, or more so Baker Mayfield…he kept fighting to the end while 20-40 other guys plus the coaching staff just half-assed it in the growing deficit. Watching Jarvis Landry run routes like he had other things to do (huge mistake paying him a big contract) and seeing Hue Jackson just standing on the sidelines with a pouting face on – I’m glad he lost so it ushers his demise quicker. If anyone thinks there is a worse head coach in the NFL today, they’re fooling themselves. No connection with his team. Constant failure. Consistently coaching players to lesser performances. He’s a joke that’s killing this team. With about any other coach this season and starting Mayfield from day one…this is a playoff team. Hue is literally sucking the life out of this team.
The Browns are 2-3-1 and projected 5-10-1 right now by our computer models – which means…YES, Hue Jackson will get canned (you’d think). The schedule ahead won’t allow them to get to 8-9 wins…their coach won’t allow them to get to 8-9 wins.
The Chargers have beaten four of the worst teams in the NFL (BUF-SF-OAK-CLE) and lost to the two best (KC and LAR), so I still don’t know that they’re any good. I do know their schedule should allow them to get to the playoffs…9.5 wins projected, which will potentially be a road wild card game going to Baltimore or Pittsburgh, and in January that would be the end of the Chargers fortuitous run in 2018 season. Or they could draw the Jaguars traveling 4 hours east to get hammered by that defense. Barring a Philip Rivers injury, they are going to the playoffs…and very likely one-and-done.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- My main interest in re-watching this game was seeing what happened to Baker Mayfield (22-46 for 238 yards, 1/TD/2 INTs)…not his best game, but not that bad either. I know he got hurt early, but I also recalled WRs letting him down. What was it? Let me just hit my notes in bullet points…
*Mayfield looked fine. Credit LAC because several plays, me watching the all-22 tape, every receiver was blanketed. Mayfield had nowhere to throw way too much – a version of what the Bears were doing early in the season…five-wide, everyone run to a spot and stop and turn. In this game, when they did that, there were five Charger defenders running the routes with them. In one stretch, Mayfield got sacked three times in a row…no one was open, and he sticks, fearlessly, with trying to find someone breaking off to get open (instead, guys just stood there).
*Mayfield landed wrong on his ankle early on and was hobbled pretty bad (Tyrod starting warming up), but the very next play, 4th & 1, Mayfield ran a QB sneak…and converted. That’s Baker Mayfield. The three sacks in a row came soon after…somewhat due to his foot not being right. He fought through and looked fine the rest of the game. I’m sure he was in a ton of pain Monday morning.
*I’m not joking here – Baker Mayfield should have had three TD passes in the first half, instead of none. Antonio Callaway lost a bomb in the end zone in the sun on a perfect throw by Mayfield. Ditto Damion Ratley on a 35-yard bullet in stride for a score…misjudged, right through his hands. Right before halftime, 1st & goal with time running out, two shots at the end zone by Mayfield came up empty. This should have been a 300+ yard, 3 TD day…and a lot closer of a game.
I think Mayfield will be limited early in the week for practice to rest his ankle and then be full late in the week. He’ll play and gets a very giving TB pass defense. Remember, what Trubisky did to them Week 4? Matt Ryan ripped them Week 6.
-- Carlos Hyde (14-34-0, 0-0-0/0), I’m selling now. I like him as a runner, but we got multiple problems converging – and because he scored 5 TDs his first four games…he has some trade value to the desperate. Couple things here…
1) Hyde is averaging 3.4 yards per carry…because the Browns run blocking is terrible, and the Browns run Hyde on about 40%+ of the snaps he’s in on – easy to guess him to run the ball.
2) Mayfield isn’t throwing him passes…0 targets here, 1.3 targets per game in Mayfield’s starts, 1.7 targets/1.0 catches/4.7 yards per game receiving for Hyde. Duke Johnson is seeing more and more targets and more and more snaps (some of it game flow). But it’s kinda becoming a Jordan Howard-Tarik Cohen thing…why run heavy when you have Baker Mayfield/Mitchell Trubisky and can use your passing game RB as a de facto RB with targets instead of hand-offs?
3) Nick Chubb is looking a little better every week. More confidence. More burst. Not much vision but good enough to work if he has space…like Sony-Kerryon…rookie RBs who are OK athletes and put their heads down when they run and just run straight as far as straight takes them. There’s a growing pressure to get Chubb more touches…when he gets them, if he’s popping a little – Hyde will be sidelined, and Chubb will be thought to be taking over.
It’s also possible the Browns lose two more games, fall to 2-5-1 and trade Carlos Hyde to the Patriots (where they trade all their players).
Hyde as a Brown is going to fall the next few weeks. Hyde anywhere else via trade might rise some.
-- Tyrell Williams (3-118-2/4) had back-to-back 40+ yard catches on one drive, the second being a triple covered miracle catch for a TD. He did similar on his 2nd TD, right before halftime.
Williams saw 1 target in the 2nd half.
That’s my problem with Williams. Unless he’s making miracles…he doesn’t matter to Rivers or fantasy. They aren’t going at him on purpose. His free agency can’t get here fast enough.
-- Browns WR role call…
Jarvis Landry (2-11-0/9) went through the motions in this game. What a joke #1 WR he is…but if Mayfield is going to put up numbers, so is Landry. This was just a great game by LAC’s defense + Landry dropping passes.
TB-PIT-KC-ATL the next 4 weeks makes Landry very viable and Mayfield a possible shock star.
Damion Ratley (6-82-0/8) was ‘there’. He didn’t standout, but he didn’t embarrass himself. Had he caught a sweet 35-yard strike TD (he may have lost in a very bright sun), he’s 7-117-1 and people going wild. He matters with this schedule ahead. They guy likely to get the least coverage. 6’2”/196 and ran a 4.39 40-time with a 6.92 three cone at his Pro Day.
Antonio Callaway (2-9-0/10) wasn’t open, and when he was it was slight, and he couldn’t make the tough catches. Still, 10 targets. Nine or more targets in three of his last 4 games.
Ratley may be preferred over Callaway Week 7-8 because he’s getting the least coverage – and Mayfield finds things open. If Ratley’s injury is not bad (hit hard at end of game), I’d go Ratley over Callaway this week.
On that vibe, Rashard Higgins (DNP) may be the big deep sleeper here upon his return from injury. The 2nd most reliable WR on a team that has to throw a lot…kinda like a Chester Rogers situation. Higgins last two games with Baker: 3.5 rec. (4.5 targets), 63.5 yards, 0.50 TDs – and he’s a good/quality WR. Not the athlete that Callaway-Ratley are, but a better craftsman/hands.
Duke Johnson (4-73-0/5) is starting to wander his way back into the RB3 discussion in PPR, maybe RB2-2.5 in the right game flows. 6-1-5 for targets his last three games. I see Mayfield starting to realize Duke may be his easiest option floating out of the backfield on those stupid run-stop-turn routes that are never open.
-- Joe Schobert (3 tackles, 0.5 sacks) is hurt/out for a few weeks. Christian Kirksey (1 tackle, 2 PDs) should see a bump in production…but definitely didn’t in this game.
-- Desmond King (3 tackles, 2 INTs, 2 PDs) got back rolling again, one of our top 55 guys in our current 2017-18-19 rookie draft rankings in our dynasty stash reporting.
Snap Counts of Interest:
73 = Landry
72 = Callaway
65 = Ratley
35 = Duke Johnson
32 = Hyde
07 = Chubb
49 = Tyrell Williams
39 = Keenan Allen
38 = Mike Williams
23 = Genard Avery
21 = Kindred
11 = Nwosu