I really thought this was the game Cleveland could shock the world in. The change in quarterback to a guy (Kevin Hogan) who’s been moving the ball in relief efforts the past few weeks. A young, aggressive defense getting back Myles Garrett. A Houston team with defensive injuries and a rookie QB getting a tad overhyped. The stage was set.
The Browns held the Texans to a field goal in the first five minutes and then answered with a field goal of their own. An encouraging start when you’re the Browns…3-3 late in the 1st-quarter.
The Texans hit on a long TD pass before the end of the 1st-quarter and I started to feel uneasy. However, the Browns marched right down the field in response -- and I finally felt like Cleveland had enough fight to win this game. Kevin Hogan was going to make the difference. No sooner did I find joy in that thought process than Hogan tried to make a simple throw short to Duke Johnson in the red zone and overthrew it by about 10 yards over his head…and right into Johnathan Joseph’s hands and he took it for an 82-yard D-TD. Game over. The blowout was on. Hogan looked jumpy and erratic the rest of the game. The Browns were hanging in there but then the typical floodgates opened on them quickly.
It’s stupid of me to ever believe the Browns were turning any corner. I just heard that they’re hiring a footboard advisor to try to help the management team – which means change is coming again. None of the Browns’ changes ever work despite the fact that every change is a radical departure from the prior attempt. Nothing they do matters. It’s not bad luck it’s bad ownership -- something that doesn’t change often.
I’m still not ready to buy into the Texans. Beating down Cleveland is not a feather in their cap. Getting crushed by the Chiefs but then throwing a bunch of Hail Mary passes that land so that the score looks a lot closer and the box score looks delightful doesn’t make me believe this team is something special. Their claim to fame is that Deshaun Watson is putting up historically great numbers – but we also have to consider this magical run has come against three of the worst pass defense is in the NFL…not just ‘bad’ pass defenses but the worst — the Patriots, Titans, and the Browns. The one good pass defense they faced in the last four weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs, they could barely complete a pass for the first three quarters before completing a bunch of miracle throws in the desperation come back attempt. They weren’t even great throws…they were just up for grabs and receivers made excellent plays. That’s not typical.
To believe Deshaun Watson is confirmed ‘special’ right now is a risky proposition. Because there’s not a lot to look at on this particular game tape, I spent most my time just studying Watson’s throws to see if anything hit me. It’s tough to say how he looks because beating up the Cleveland Browns is no amazing feat. But we’ll see what we can see…
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- I don’t see what everyone else sees on Deshaun Watson (17-29 for 225 yards, 3 TD/1 INT) *Sees = sees the TD passes on the highlights and jumps on the bandwagon with all the football analysts going crazy for him.
I’m not saying Watson is a total fraud but there’s reason to pause here. To worry the house of straw (everyone proclaiming him elite already) might get blown over…quickly.
You know he’s completed 55.0% of his passes the past two weeks, right?
His big games against NE-TEN-CLE are contests against the two teams tied for most TD passes allowed this season (NE-CLE) and the 3rd most (TEN)…the 1-2-3 most ‘giving’ pass defenses have ‘given’ to Watson. He had decent numbers against KC too, but for three quarters he was made to look like a buffoon…only when they got way behind and he started throwing prayers downfield (prayers answered) did he have great numbers vs. the Chiefs. It was a mirage.
I see the same thing every week – Watson very comfortable in the spread and defenses not pressuring him for fear of him running and not having a great pass rush to begin with. I see Watson making the play action fake from the spread, looking at one receiver and firing.
He’s completing nearly 70% of his passes throwing to the right…58% throwing left…50% over the middle. Teams are going to figure this out in short order. It’s the same complaint I had with his college tape and metrics – poor thrower over the middle/in tight windows. Jared Goff is completing 76.2% of his passes over the middle. It’s just a ‘tell’ to me on what’s going to happen over time. Teams will make Watson throw to the middle more and start picking him off because he isn’t a very good reader of defenses over the middle…most QBs are not.
Watson is on a roll right now, but my metrics, my instincts tell me something isn’t confirmed here yet. That there’s another layer to deal with here. There’s a lot for me to pause and wait & see. My inclination, for fantasy, would be to use him up for 2017…but trade hot in dynasty for the long-term. His value is 10 out of 10 in the world today. He might be a 6-7-8 forever after 2017.
-- As I feared/chronicled last week – Duke Johnson (5-40-0, 3-0-0/5) was not a crutch for Kevin Hogan. However, he is for DeShone Kizer, and with Kizer back you can get more excited about Duke again in PPR.
Please…no more questions about Isaiah Crowell (12-58-0). What do you see that has your bottom fishing interest? He’s mediocre on an AWFUL team. Case closed. He has two TDs in his last 14 games…all coming in one game. He hasn’t scored a TD in 13 of his last 14 games…AS THE LEAD RB.
Crowell is averaging 45.0 yards rushing per game over his last 18 games. He’s averaging 42.0 per game in 2017. If it wasn’t for 152 yards rushing in Week 17 last season versus the Steelers backups…his trending would be even worse.
-- D’Onta Foreman (12-59-0) did something that scared me in this game…flashed me back to my main criticism of him – he’s a huge dude with athleticism but runs like a little finesse RB.
In this game, Foreman ran the ball against a stacked-to-stop-the-run defensive front and once Foreman got through untouched off-tackle he had no one around him. 10 guys up to stop the run, one safety back. Foreman took off to the left and had nothing but open field for 30+ yards and a lone safety chasing him, and yet he ran towards the sidelines and within the 5-yard line, with the safety was coming at Foreman, who had a full head of steam for 30-yards of running prior…instead of Foreman angling towards the middle/towards the goal line to crush the smaller safety and barrel in for the easy score…he just ran to the sidelines and slipped out of bounds to not take a hit and tossed the ball to the ref and got ready for the next play. Like…’no big deal’, his expression and body language said.
It was the worst thing I’ve seen a running back do this season…and I’ve watched all of Melvin Gordon’s carries! It was jarring. It makes me not want to believe in Foreman for the future. I fear he’s a guy that has everything that makes sense on paper – the size, the speed, the weak competition (Lamar Miller) and yet never really fulfills the promise because he’s too s-a-w-f-t.
Where Foreman looks amazing is in the passing game. He looks very comfortable with terrific hands…and that’s gotten him 1 target the past three weeks.
Talented dude…stuffy coach…s-a-w-f-t style = I’m not against selling the sizzle ‘high’ if I need to. I like an inexpensive investment here, but if the hype gets white hot…I will dump him for something more assured. He can always improve his style, so he has hope…but guys tend not to change all that much.
-- UDFA rookie IDP Dylan Cole (2 tackle, 1 INT) is the best rookie linebacker I’ve seen this season, one of the best in years – right up there with Jatavis Brown.
Cole is a monster and when the Texans are finally aware of this, you’re talking about an IDP SUPERSTAR here…not just ‘good’.
Every week, in limited time, it’s an INT or sack, or big hit or whatever. He’s unreal.
-- Speaking of IDP gems we were ahead of the crowd on…Joe Schobert (13 tackles) is sitting 12th in tackles YTD. I really thought he’d be top 5…there’s still time.