The Cleveland Browns defeated the Denver Broncos 17-14 on Thursday Night Football to kick off Week 7. The Browns were missing several players, but that didn’t stop them from a hot start, culminating in a D’Ernest Johnson touchdown. It was an offensive struggle for the next 57 minutes, as lots of punts were mixed in with a few touchdown drives
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- Snaps include plays called back due to penalties like offensive holding or defensive pass interference. The other three stats have these plays removed.
- Targets may differ from official NFL sources. The most likely discrepancy would be from a clear thrown away pass, where the NFL may give the target to the nearest receiver, while this data will not.
- Carries are only on designed plays. Quarterback scrambles won’t count for the total number of carries in the game.
- D’Ernest Johnson: 22 carries, 146 yards, 1 TD (3.4 yards after contact per carry), 2 reception, 22 receiving yards
- Courtland Sutton: 5 receptions, 68 yards (3 for 3 on contested targets)
|Cleveland Browns||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Odell Beckham Jr.||43||25||6||0|
|Denver Broncos||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Melvin Gordon III||29||16||3||8|
Hold onto D’Ernest Johnson: He was the hot waiver wire target this week with Nick Chubb out and Kareem Hunt on injured reserve. And he rewarded them with a touchdown on the first drive. He continued to be the Browns' primary running back. Demetric Felton played double-duty with some snaps out of the backfield and some at wide receiver. John Kelly was brought up from the practice squad and took a few snaps while fullback Johnny Stanton also carried the ball twice.
Chubb will hopefully be back after the extended time off, but Johnson could end up splitting snaps with him. That could make him a starter in some leagues for at least another two weeks.
Monitor all of the injuries to the Browns receivers: Odell Beckham Jr. seemed unlikely to play 24 hours ago, but he led the Browns in routes run. Jarvis Landry was activated off of injured reserve and finished second in snaps while Donovan Peoples-Jones suffered an injury in warmups and didn’t play despite being active.
Landry had the best game of the group with five receptions, four of which occurred within the first eight minutes of the game. His playing time was limited throughout the game, but after some more time off, he should see more of a normal role starting next week. He limped off the field after his last catch, but he did come back on the field for a third-down play as well as the kneel-downs to end the game.
Buy low on Melvin Gordon III: The Broncos tried to get their running backs heavily involved in the game, but neither back was all that effective. The most promising part of the night outside of Gordon's touchdown was that Mike Boone was a healthy scratch, making it more likely this stays a two-person backfield instead of a three. Gordon has outplayed Williams all season, making it unlikely Gordon loses his role anytime soon. Gordon's first-down rate has been higher while his stuffed rate has been lower over the course of the season, which has led to a higher PFF rush grade.
Denver has the second-easiest schedule for running backs the rest of the season. All but one of their upcoming opponents will be easier than the Browns were tonight.
Ignore the Broncos slot receivers: Denver used a heavy rotation of players in their third receiver spot. Kendall Hinton was the only one with a catch. John Brown was a noteworthy pickup for Denver, but he only played a few snaps. Jerry Jeudy is expected to return for Denver’s next game, so all of these players rotating in and out will probably see single-digit offensive snaps each game going forward.