Browns Week 8 vs. Colts: Summary Report and Player Game Balls

October 24, 2023

Andy Billman Tony Camino

Browns Reflections: A look back at the Browns victory over the Colts

1 – How good is Myles Garrett currently playing for the Browns?


Uh, he is outstanding.  He is the best Browns defensive player I have seen in my 44 years as a Browns fan.  He’s playing better than Clay Matthews Jr. and Michael Dean Perry, who I thought were the best defensive players to play for the Browns in my lifetime.

Myles Garrett literally lifted the team to victory with his unbelievable performance, inspiring his teammates.  He also surpassed Reggie White for the most NFL sacks by a player before his 28th birthday. Garrett is 27 and has 82 sacks, and White had 80 sacks when he turned 28 (courtesy of Adam Schefter, @AdamSchefter).

Garrett also caused the Colts to shift away from being aggressive at the end of the first half when he caused the fumble for a touchdown.  He also has the highlight of the year with his block of a field goal in this game.

Garrett is undoubtedly in the JJ Watt, Lawrence Taylor, and White comparisons and is a giant beacon of hope for the Browns to do big things in 2023. 


Myles Garrett is undoubtedly playing at a DPOY, First-Ballot HOF level right now for the Browns, and fans cannot take this for granted. He shifted the entire first half with strip sacks and the blocked field goal, making the impossible look pretty easy. The former number-one overall pick has always been this dominant, but improvement on the defensive line and the new scheme have him taking over games consistently.

The most impressive part of this season for Garrett to me has been how effective he’s been in defending the run. While his contract is massive, he is mainly paid to get after the quarterback. To dominate in the run game like he has shown this season adds another terrifying dimension to his game, and the blocked field goal is a play that might not be replicated by anyone else in the NFL.

The defensive front is the most talented the Browns have had in decades, which allows Garrett to face the most one-on-one blocking situations where he’s unstoppable. All the new additions up front have been tremendous, and it has even resulted in Jordan Eliott playing the best football of his career. With Garrett leading the charge on this defense, opposing coordinators and quarterbacks are having nightmares on Saturday nights before the game.

2 – Can the Browns win with PJ Walker throughout the season?


PJ Walker has appeared in the last two games, and the Browns have somehow managed to secure victories in both. He hasn’t played exceptionally well, but he tends to make a critical throw at just the right moment to contribute to the team’s success. With play calling that consistently creates open receivers and creates free yards as good as anyone in the league, along with an elite defense, Walker has the potential to lead the Browns to regular season wins, keeping them in the playoff race.

While the Colts game was somewhat disappointing on the defensive front, that side of the ball boasts a Super Bowl-caliber defense if they are healthy. A slightly above-average offense could position them as true contenders this season. However, the chances of winning a playoff game with Walker at quarterback are slim, and relying as heavily as the Browns have on their defense is a dangerous way to live.

Walker is suitable for filling in during regular season games that aren’t must-win situations, allowing him to rely on the defense and timely offensive plays to secure wins. But when the crucial late-season moments arrive and everything is on the line, the passing game must demonstrate more consistency if the Browns intend to capitalize on their formidable defense and go as far as they should in the playoffs.


In fairness to PJ Walker, he has not had a typical week of any sort, so it is very unfair to say he can or can not do anything.  Walker needs an average work week of practice first to be fairly evaluated.

From what I can tell, Walker does have the ear of the locker room, which is enormous, and he did lead the Browns on the game-winning drive on the road against a very odd week of preparation.  I want to see what Walker can do if they give him proper practice time and allow him to get into the playbook more. 

However, from what I can see and from past results, Walker is just a backup, and they need to get Deshaun Watson up and running before the season is out.  Especially without Nick Chubb, the Browns need to get Watson rehabbed and back on the field, as Walker has clear limitations, and Kevin Stefanski will have to adapt his playcalling to help.

3 – Should we be concerned about the Browns’ run defense or just an overreaction after the Colts game?


I believe this is an overreaction as the Colts are clearly a run-first team, which is rare in today’s NFL, and they have two outstanding running backs that can take a pounding.  The Browns will not see many teams that focus on the run as much as Indianapolis did on Sunday in future games.

That said, this is the one weakness of the Browns’ defense.  Teams can run up the middle against this defense.  The good news is the 2023 Cleveland Browns eventually shut it down and did not allow it to control the game as it did in past seasons. 


Just as we shouldn’t crown the Browns as the best defense ever after just five great games, we shouldn’t overreact and act as if the sky is falling after a single game where they weren’t entirely dominant. This game appeared to be a classic let-down spot, where defenses often struggle due to the tremendous effort and energy required to perform at a high level.

The Colts have leaned on their running game all year, and they capitalized on a Browns’ defense that didn’t seem mentally prepared after the emotional victory against the Niners. From mental mistakes, struggling to shed blocks, to missing tackles for the first time all year, it was a clear lack of effort and focus, which is not uncommon in these situations.

Looking ahead, it’s essential for the defense to learn from this game and remain mentally prepared after significant wins. To force four turnovers, which had a substantial impact on the game, and make late stops that gave the offense one more chance to win, while still having an off day by their standards, speaks to the quality of the defense this year. Sunday’s performance was undoubtedly their weakest of the season, but they adjusted well late, and there isn’t much cause for concern moving forward.

4 – When will Deshaun Watson play again?


According to Kevin Stefanski, Deshaun Watson will start next week against the Seahawks. He didn’t see much action against the Colts, and during the brief time he played, he didn’t appear to be in top form. The Browns’ offense didn’t help by putting him in challenging situations, requiring him to throw only in third-and-long situations and backed up in their own end zone. The decision to force the throw that led to his exit from the game was very questionable.

The interception he threw wasn’t the best decision, but credit goes to the safety for making a great play. Most safeties would look to drive the upfield shoulder, but Julian Blackmon made a superb interception by undercutting it. It was the right call to take him out of the game, likely to assess how well he could handle getting hit on that shoulder for the first time.

The success of the season largely depends on Watson’s ability to perform above average at the quarterback position since the Browns have been receiving some of the worst quarterback play in the league collectively. Hopefully, another week of practice following a real game will better prepare Watson for the next game, and he can come out at 100% against the Seahawks. This week’s practices will be intriguing to see how the quarterback position is managed.


If I were allowed to be in the circle of trust in Berea, it is time for Deshaun Watson to shut it down, get rehabbed, and adequately come back at some point before the season is out. He is not ready to play and could use some time to rehab.  Physically and mentally.

Now, what will the Browns do?  As Kevin Stefanski mentioned, it is day-to-day with the results of the MRI pending from Monday.  If I had to make a bet in Vegas, Watson sits out the next two weeks and is back for the Ravens game.

Game Balls:

Andy – Myles Garrett

Tony – Dustin Hopkins

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