Browns Week 15 vs. Bears: Summary Report and Player Game Balls

December 19, 2023

Andy Billman Tony Camino

Browns Reflections: A Look Back at the Brown’s Victory Over the Bears

1 – Fabulous Flacco, thoughts on Flacco’s performance on Sunday.

Andy – 

Joe Flacco had one of those rollercoaster days as a professional athlete when everything was going wrong, and then everything ended up being so right. Enormous credit to Flacco for fighting until the end. It would have been easy to have kicked the can and put his head in the sand, especially after his third interception late in the 3rd quarter. 

Add to the fact that the Browns were having significant issues on the offensive line, so Flacco ran for his life multiple times, and Cleveland had no running game.  At times, Flacco was the man pulling all of the string on offense, and even on an off day, Flacco won the game with big-time throws.  Flacco was simply fabulous on Sunday.

Tony – 

It was a pretty challenging day for the Browns’ offense overall before the fourth quarter, including Joe Flacco. The timing on some throws was off, the decision-making wasn’t always great, and he put the ball in harm’s way more than they could afford if they wanted to win going forward. With that being said, Flacco is a legitimate pro when it comes to staying even-keeled and navigating through that mess despite not playing well.

He ended up making some big throws in the fourth quarter and was clutch down the stretch to seal an impressive comeback win. The throw to Amari Cooper was one of the best throws of the year by any quarterback (with a little luck included), and drifting away from pressure on the third-and-long conversion to David Njoku highlights just how well he handles the little things. An improved run game will only help the passing game get better, but Flacco has to protect the ball better going forward.

2 – Will the offensive line hold up with all of the injuries? 

Tony – 

They need to get a bit healthier, as Sunday marked likely their worst game of the season. The tackles didn’t hold up well, and Nick Harris struggled at center. It’s expected when you only have one starting offensive lineman back, but this team desperately needs key contributors back on the offensive line.

Both offensive tackles are set to start for the rest of the year, and their play must improve to benefit the Browns in both phases. While Kevin Stefanski and Joe Flacco have been masterful at working with what they have and finding ways to buy an extra second of protection, those strategies won’t always be reliable. If they can return to semi-healthy status, they should be good enough.

Andy – 

The offensive line for the Browns had a lot of issues on Sunday against the Bears, and in particular, the offensive tackles James Hudson II and Geron Christian were getting beat on almost every snap.  Very tough day for both.

The Browns need two of their offensive linemen to come back ASAP.  Figuring at some point, Joel Bitonio and Ethan Pocic will make it onto the field either this Sunday in Houston or the following week is a start to recovery on the line.  

They will hold up once Bitonio and Pocic make it back, but the Browns must get creative on helping both tackles, who need it.

3 – Who on defense stood out on Sunday?

Andy – 

Multiple players could be listed for this question, but the two that stand out for me are Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Martin Emerson.  JOK is flying around right now and always seems to be in a position to make a big play.  Because of all the attention to Myles Garrett, JOK has taken advantage of the situation by being accessible and making big plays.

Emerson is a pro bowler and is now a bonafide lockdown corner.  Emerson has held down the secondary with all of the injuries. Teams are avoiding passing towards Emerson for good reason, he does not allow the receiver to get much space. 

Tony –  

To start, Myles Garrett continues to stand out, irrespective of his sack numbers. His impact in breaking up plays and taking on multiple blockers allows many other defenders to have favorable matchups. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Martin Emerson are adding to their stellar years, and Greg Newsome had perhaps his best game of the season.

Dalvin Tomlinson and Shelby Harris were consistently disrupting Chicago’s backfield and came through when the team needed it, especially after losing Maurice Hurst. Alex Wright came through and had some nice plays in his extended role. Most importantly, players like Cameron Mitchell, De’Anthony Bell, and Ronnie Hickman all had very solid performances despite not receiving regular reps throughout the season. The defensive stars continue to shine, but the emergence and performance of these young players are just as crucial.

4 – Can the Browns keep winning without the threat of a running game?

Tony – 

In the regular season, yes, but if they aim to make more noise than just a playoff berth, they need to find success on the ground. The lack of a run game hasn’t been glaringly exposed yet because the Browns often find themselves playing from behind, as seen in the Bears’ game. When they do manage to get off to hot starts, it will be challenging to defeat formidable teams without the ability to control the game on the ground.

The offensive numbers are less than impressive, regardless of the metric you consider. The Browns are making just enough plays to win at the moment, and the passing game is poised to improve as everyone becomes more comfortable playing together. If the run game can gain some traction and become somewhat of a threat, the Browns will have a good chance against any opponent.

Andy – 

Yes, it can, but the Browns will have to improve on what is going on currently.  They have to find some common ground between not being able to rely on it for 100 yards plus and being able to get 75-100 yards a game.  Most importantly, the Browns will have to have the ability to run the ball late to run the clock out. 

Game Balls – 

Andy – Flacco (JOK close second)

Tony – Greg Newsome

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