I’d say that both John Dorsey and Eliot Wolf are going to have busy Monday mornings this week as they need to be scouting available wide receivers to replace the mess that is Josh Gordon as well as looking for a new kicker. Surely Zane Gonzalez can’t keep his job after last night’s performance against the New Orleans Saints, can he?

The Saints won this game by a mere 3-points and the hapless Gonzalez left a total of 8-points on the field (as they say). He evidently has the leg strength but does he have the accuracy? Apparently not – not consistently, anyway. He showed that he has the leg strength with his last attempt when Hue Jackson did the right thing of throwing him back out there to attempt a potential game-tieing field goal right at the end of regulation. It looked long enough but it sailed wide right after he would appear to have over-compensated for his previous three misses which sailed wide left.

From what I can remember of Zane Gonzalez since his 7th-round selection by the Browns in the 2017 draft, is that he has literally been far too hit-and-miss with regards to his accuracy. He’s one of those players that I’ve not had 100% confidence in but have always rooted for in the hope that we’ve found our guy enabling us to have consistency at another position as the rebuild continues. Well, last night against the New Orleans Saints saw me finally admit to myself that Zane Gonzalez is not the player the Cleveland Browns need as their kicker!

At the important time of the rebuilding process, I feel that the team can’t afford to have a misfiring kicker on the team. With a sputtering offence looking like it’s struggling to put points on the board, it’d be nice to be able to count on your kicker to help out by doing his job of converting field goals to take the pressure off a bit, but also to kick those very important extra points that can be game-breakers when missed.

I know many people don’t seem to have much respect for kickers but it’s such an important position you can’t afford to have one that chokes often at important times in games. That’s exactly what Gonzalez does, he just seems to choke when shit gets real and he could be the winning factor.

Anyway, the second most accurate kicker in NFL history is available as a free agent so I hope John Dorsey is on the phone to him whilst Eliot Wolf is calling Zane Gonzalez in “for a quick meeting”. Dan Bailey currently has an 88.2% FG conversion grade and has been selected to the pro bowl as recently as 2015. Admittedly, Bailey had his worst year in 2017 with a 75% conversion rate, but he’s still got to be better than what the Browns currently have, with his experience and ability.

Pure and simple, this is a game that should have been won but will go into the ‘loss’ category instead due to the very poor talent the team has at its kicker position. Last week’s tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers could also have been a win were it not for the inability of the kicking game. That wasn’t solely on Gonzalez as his protection wasn’t great and the potential game-winning field goal was tipped at the line. All-in-all, the kicking game needs to improve if the Browns are to get any W’s this year and, for me, that starts now with the replacing of Zane Gonzalez.

Zane Gonzalez

Jamie Collins

As I’ve said on numerous occasions before, I’m not a scout nor do I have hours on end available to me that would allow me to sit and watch coaches film to dissect games. Right, with that said, I have just watched the game again via the NFL Gamepass ‘Game in 40’ option and I still don’t like what I see from Jamie Collins. His effort levels just look far too low for the player many people claim him to be. Yes, if you watch tape on him you’re likely to see him around the ball at the end of many plays but it’s far too often that he’s arrived there a fraction too late to make the tackle as one of his teammates who’s actually putting the effort in has already done it. Instead of speeding up at the final stages of a play where he could potentially make the tackle, he seems to slow down just enough so that he doesn’t have to. I find him infuriating to watch. Or, am I just not watching properly or is he just so damn good that his apparent lethargic demeanour is because he doesn’t have to go at full speed to play at the same level as the poor schmucks around him?

Yes, he makes some plays but, as I see it, it’s only when he has no choice but to make it. Whether I’m right or wrong, he sure as hell ain’t worth the $12.1 million cap hit this year or the $11.75 million next season. He needs to be gone before the 2019 season, if not before.

Tyrod Taylor

I know people are hating on Tyrod right now and we all want to see what Baker will bring to the Browns, but surely people need to calm down and stop blaming him for this loss. Yes, he has his faults which make him a boring watch at times, but he’s also not as bad as people are making out.

I too am a massive Baker Mayfield fan already and am desperate to see him tear up the league with his mobility, accuracy, good arm and apparent intelligence for the game, but I still think people are calling for the change WAY too early. Taylor, as I’ve said, has his flaws which appear to be that he’s too conservative in his passing. The name Checkdown Taylor is very apt as I think he’s trying to preserve the idea that the media have built up for him about him being a solid QB who doesn’t turn the ball over too often. I can’t help thinking that he knows he’s out of Cleveland at the end of the season and wants his reputation intact ready for a big payday during the offseason from a QB-desperate organisation.

His stats from this game don’t look too bad (22/30, 246-yards, 1TD, 1INT, 3 sacks for 12-yards lost, 94.6 RTG) but it’s watching him play it too cautiously that’s pissing people off. I must admit that I don’t get filled with confidence about his ability to lead drives the length of the field for TD’s but I’m also not ready to give up on him in favour of throwing Baker Mayfield in there to potentially have a negative effect on his development. Yes, yes, I know, we could argue that one until we’re blue in the face and it’s really not worth it.

Tyrod Taylor needs to be given at least until week ten before it’s time to re-evaluate the QB position, in my early opinion.

Defence

The obvious strength of the team is the defensive unit these days. The play of Larry Ogunjobi and Myles Garrett was good to watch, even though Myles didn’t put up anything like standout stats. He was still influential in the game as he lined up from various positions along the front. Larry helped himself to 4 tackles and 2 sacks and I continue to like that right-hand side of the defensive line (usually where Larry and Myles line up) as I think it’s pretty devastating to opposing offensive lines.

New arrival Carl Davis got a bit of playing time as well, which is good to see as I’d like him to be a factor for the team going forward and, also, cornerback T.J. Carrie stepped up and had a good game. I get the feeling that things are slowly but surely starting to come together after such a massive roster shift this offseason. Even though this game was a loss, I think it’s a definite positive as far as the grand scheme of things going forward is concerned. I think that this is just the first year of the actual rebuilding of the Browns after two seasons of tearing it apart for assets that will allow this rebuild to happen.

Wide Receivers

Now that Josh Gordon has been shown the door (not before time, in my opinion) we can finally settle down and concern ourselves with the group of young talent we have in the house who appear to want to play.

Jarvis Landry had another good, solid game with his 5 receptions for 69-yards, some of which were made across the middle with traffic around him. Even though he’s not lighting it up with TD’s every week, this guy is exactly what we need him to be: a quality, reliable pair of pass-catching hands. He’s on course for another good year of gaining over 1,000-yards and I’m sure more TD’s can be expected from him.

Rashard Higgins and Antonio Callaway

Antonio Callaway caught a great TD pass from Tyrod Taylor which floated beautifully over the defender’s head into the out-stretched hands of Callaway as he ran at full speed away from the said defender. That 47-yard TD reception helped him to 81-yards on the day and a very solid performance. If he’s going to grow and mature into a responsible young man, the sky’s the limit for Antonio Callaway.

Rashard Higgins got involved a bit more this week as well. He caught 5 of his 7 targets for 47-yards. He did appear to struggle to keep hold of the ball at the end of a couple of plays but got lucky on an important one which went out of bounds for the first down. We have to remember that these two guys are very young and inexperienced in the NFL, but I really like the potential this young receiving group has. I still believe that bringing in a veteran would be a decent move, though.

After an emotional rollercoaster of a first live watch followed by a quick ‘Game in 40’ watch of this game, that’s what I’ve taken from it. I’ll probably watch it again but, for now, that’ll do.

What did you see and take from the game? As usual, let me know in the comments below.