Peter Schrager’s Cheat Sheet: Beware the Browns; Broncos personal their blunder

By Peter Schrager
FOX Sports activities NFL Analyst

You are out of your NFL Survivor Pool? Me too! Your fantasy workforce sucks? Hey, mine too! Do not hand over, associates. It is solely Week 2. 

The NFL season is a marathon; not a race. You hear me, 49ers followers? One other nice slate of video games lies forward of us. 

Let’s dig in with 5 ideas on the league. 

1. Did all of us overlook the Browns? 

I made a little bit information Monday once I went on “Good Morning Football” and mentioned the nationwide media narrative had been so targeted on Deshaun Watson the previous six months that prognosticators forgot simply how good the Cleveland Browns have been at each different place. 

The Watson dialog — all of it — was uneasy, and thus, the handy factor to do was to only assume the workforce would not carry out with out him on the sector. Or, in the event you’re a cynic on this, you’d say the media did not need to have fun the Browns after the Watson commerce (and subsequent huge contract extension), and thus, handled them just like the fourth workforce in a fairly loaded AFC North. 

Browns get better of Baker

Baker Mayfield got here up brief in his Carolina debut in opposition to his former workforce.

That is awfully dismissive of a workforce with a perennial Defensive Participant of the Yr candidate in Myles Garrett, for my dime, one of the best working again duo within the NFL in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, and a younger and dynamic cornerback duo of former first-round picks that I would put up in opposition to anybody. 

Kevin Stefanski is a current NFL Coach of the Yr winner, and GM Andrew Berry has confirmed to be a talented entrance workplace government and evaluator of expertise. 

On paper, with questions at quarterback or with out, Cleveland has a robust roster — particularly after making an improve on the high extensive receiver spot with the Amari Cooper commerce — and a core of younger gamers and coaches who’ve proven they will win within the NFL. Universally, they have been slotted for fourth place within the division. 

The Browns beat the Panthers on Sunday, escaping a close to late-game collapse, with a 58-yard, game-winning kick by rookie kicker Cade York. For 60 minutes, the Browns have been dominant on each side of the ball within the trenches, with a Panthers workforce that additionally prides itself on physicality. 

And that is what’s scary concerning the Browns this season. They do not essentially want dynamic play from a QB comparable to Josh Allen or Justin Herbert. Jacoby Brissett must be one of the best Jacoby Brissett may be, and the protection and punishing type of soccer Cleveland employs can deal with the remaining. 

Can Jacoby Brissett preserve Browns afloat?

Can Jacoby Brissett keep Browns afloat?

Joe Thomas joins Colin Cowherd to debate the expectations for the Browns whereas Deshaun Watson is suspended.

I am kicking myself for being one of many many pundits who left the Browns out of their playoff photos again in August. I spoke to an opposing NFL head coach Tuesday, and he informed me the Browns are “get off the bus scary.” What’s that imply? “When they walk off the bus, they’re big, they’re strong, and they go 20 deep like that. They’ve got a team that wants to beat you up in the trenches. Never easy to play those teams.” 

The Eagles of the ’90s — with Reggie White, Jerome Brown and Randall Cunningham, have been “get off the bus scary.” The 49ers squads of the early 2010s, with Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, have been additionally in that class.

Watson is coming again in some unspecified time in the future. Possibly Week 13. Or Brissett wins sufficient video games and has the Browns rolling, and Cleveland pushes the Watson period to 2023. 

Both approach, the Browns face the Jets at house on Sunday and will very effectively begin the yr 2-0. I would count on lots extra wins than that. 

They’re large, robust, well-coached and, oh yeah, they’re neglected. 

In case you do not need to “root” for the Browns, that is advantageous. However they are not going to be a nasty soccer workforce. 

2. Unpacking the Hackett determination

It was a head-scratcher within the second, and some days eliminated, it is onerous to justify the choice to let Brandon McManus kick the ball from 64 yards away over letting Russell Wilson attempt to convert a fourth-and-5. However the Monday (or Tuesday on this case) Morning QB stuff has been executed already.  

What I need to name out is first-year Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett’s capability to deal with the choice, put his hand up and say he’d do it in another way subsequent time, then take reporters via his thought course of. Bear in mind, Denver employed Hackett for his offensive wizardry, but additionally as a result of he is an ace communicator. 

So, there was Hackett, 16 hours after as dangerous a end we have seen in an NFL head teaching debut within the league’s historical past, and he stepped as much as the microphone with a salivating native media and owned the choice. 

Nathaniel Hackett acknowledges fourth-down determination

Nathaniel Hackett acknowledges fourth-down decision

Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett mentioned he “definitely should have gone for it” on fourth-and-5 on the finish of Denver’s 17-16 loss at Seattle. Colin Cowherd applauds Hackett for admitting his mistake.

However he additionally defined the considering. McManus, lengthy among the finest kickers within the league, mentioned he might make that kick from the left hash on the 46-yard line. As Hackett defined it, if Javonte Williams had gotten solely 5 or eight yards, and never the precise 9 that he did, the Broncos would have doubtless gone for it on fourth down. 

McManus missed the kick, and although Hackett mentioned he would doubtless do issues in another way subsequent time, he took the time to elucidate his considering and the way he was convicted in doing what he did. 

The analytics — relying on which mannequin you use — universally mentioned to go for it. However it wasn’t a 99% determination. It was normally within the 55-45% vary. All the weather and McManus’ large foot apart, since 1960, NFL kickers making an attempt a area aim of 64 or extra yards have made it simply 4.8% of the time (2-for-42). Final season, nonetheless, groups that went for it on precisely fourth-and-5 transformed it 49% of the time (22-for-45).

So, thumbs down on the choice to kick. Effective. However thumbs up for Hackett’s Tuesday media session. 

How a few huge thumbs down, although, for the self-inflicted wounds that mired the Broncos all sport? 12 penalties? Two fumbles on the 1-yard line? Six factors from 4 red-zone journeys? Bizarre clock administration in each the third and fourth quarters? 

Denver did not lose that sport on a area aim or a choice to kick one. While you put up greater than 400 yards of offense, your opponent would not crack 300 and also you lose, there’s much more than a missed kick that went awry. 

The Broncos have a fast turnaround and a feisty Texans workforce coming to city Sunday. I would count on a much more polished workforce at house and hopefully, no extra mea culpas the day after. 

3. The lottery winner makes good 

Professional Soccer Focus’ highest-rated rookie defensive again final week was an undrafted free agent who I would admittedly not executed a lot work on throughout final April’s draft prep. 

The identify Kader Kohou won’t be acquainted in the meanwhile, however he was everywhere in the area for the Dolphins of their Week 1 victory over the Patriots. After the opening slate of video games, Professional Soccer Focus’ Michael Renner ranked Kohou at No. 1 with a 91.9 grade on his record of rookie defensive performances. 

Rookie cornerback Kader Kohou was everywhere in the area within the Dolphins’ victory over the Patriots. (Photograph by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire through Getty Pictures)

Kohou performed 18 defensive snaps, did not permit a single completion, had a deal with for a loss, a cross breakup and compelled a key fumble. 

That is a heck of an NFL debut for a child who was taking part in at Texas A&M-Commerce lower than a yr in the past. His story is even higher than that of the everyday small-school child making the squad and a distinction in Yr 1. Kohou was a 9-year outdated residing in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, when his household gained the lottery. Significantly. Not a figurative lottery. The precise lottery. 

With the newfound cash, his mother and father moved the household to america. From there, Kohou discovered the game, adopted a dream, and ended up miraculously making the Dolphins’ 53-man roster after an excellent preseason and accidents on the place. 

It is why we love the NFL. 

4. Cam Akers

I’ve gotten one million texts and tweets about Cam Akers after his no-show/no-use efficiency for the Rams final Thursday. 

Cam Akers has seen his function vastly diminish within the Rams’ working sport. (Photograph by Icon Sportswire)

The reality is, Akers is as wholesome as he has been in years, however that it was a coach’s determination based mostly on the sport plan to go along with Darrell Henderson and rookie Kyren Williams, as an alternative, within the loss to the Payments. 

That plan went out the window when Williams obtained injured on a first-quarter special-teams play. I would say Akers’ three-carry, 0-yard efficiency was an aberration. I feel he’ll get a wholesome dose of motion this week in opposition to Atlanta (1 p.m. ET on FOX). 

5. Yet another factor: 

The long-snapper place is usually dismissed, disregarded, or altogether forgotten. 

Clark Harris, the Bengals’ 14-year veteran lengthy snapper, went down with an damage early in Sunday’s Week 1 sport. Positive sufficient, particular groups crushed Cincinnati within the fourth quarter and additional time of a heartbreaking loss at house to the rival Steelers. 

When Bengals lengthy snapper Clark Harris left the sport in opposition to the Steelers, Cincinnati’s particular groups actually struggled. (Photograph by Rob Carr/Getty Pictures)

Harris is 38, has been within the league for 14 years, and has doubtless by no means had a jersey offered together with his identify on the again. However Cincinnati missed him badly Sunday. 

Here is to hoping he can get again on the sector subsequent season. Harris goes to be a free agent, and coming off a torn pec, there won’t be an extended line of groups trying so as to add him. They need to. He is an excellent dude and has among the finest appears to be like within the league.

Peter Schrager is an NFL author for FOX Sports activities and a number of “Good Morning Football” on NFL Community.

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