Positives: The Browns won 26-24, so obviously there are going to be more positives than negatives:
Brian Hoyer: Hoyer was 24-for-40, passing for 204 yards and a touchdown. He had a QBR of 67.9 and a QB rating of 81.7. He may not have lit it up on your fantasy team, but once again Hoyer did just enough to keep the Browns in the game, and ultimately led them on a 14-play, 85-yard drive that resulted in the game winning field goal. I don’t know what it is, but Hoyer keeps this team going strong and has a drive to win. Hoyer is now 4-1 as a starter for the Browns.
1st Quarter Defense: The Browns held the high-powered Saints offense and Drew Brees to 9 yards in the first quarter, as the Browns took a 10-0 lead into the second quarter. This proves that the high expectations for the defense can be met, we are just waiting for them to put together a full game.
Billy Cundiff: His field goal with 3 seconds left gave the Browns the win, he also made another field goal and made both of his extra point attempts (the botched snap doesn’t count since he never attempted a kick).
Tashaun Gipson:He had 8 tackles and an interception. The interception also happened to be a pick six, which gave the Browns a 16-3 lead late in the second quarter. Gipson is quickly becoming a one of the best free safeties in league. With Joe Haden, Justin Gilbert, Donte Whitner, and Tashaun Gipson, the Browns could soon boast a Seattle level secondary. Don’t believe me? Drew Brees threw for only 237 yards.
Home-field Advantage: 100% Dawg pound. The crowd was loud all game, forcing Drew Brees to waste all of the Saints’ timeouts in the 1st half. It was also the Browns first home opening win since 2004. Expect more crowds with that atmosphere to continue all season long, as long as the Browns play like this.
Paul Kruger: I knew we signed him to a big contract for a good reason. Kruger registered 3 tackles and a sack, he also got 3 more hits on Drew Brees. Give him some credit for Tashaun Gipson’s pick six, as Kruger’s pressure forced Brees into making a bad pass.
Negatives: Even with the thrilling win, there are some things still to work on:
Joe Haden: You can’t really blame him for what Jimmy Graham was able to do. Haden tried his best, but most (actually all) 5’11’ corners have trouble with the 6’7” Graham. I really wouldn’t worry about Haden, he’s a pro and is still considered one of the top corners in the league.
Non-1st quarter defense: 24 points and 386 yards is what the Saints were able to do in every quarter that didn’t start with a 1. The defense gave the lead back to Saints on their first drive after halftime. Luckily the offense bailed them out in the end. Still the defense was able to get a stop when needed at the end of the game, which gave the ball back to the offense.
Johnny Manizel: To be fair, Manziel did nothing wrong. But did he really have to play? He came in for 3 plays, handed the ball off twice, and threw a pass that was dropped by Ray Agnew. The Saints were obviously lost defensively when Manziel came in.
Brian Hoyer: Wait a minute? How can Hoyer be both a positive and a negative? Well, to the untrained eye, he led his team to a comeback win, but to my skilled 20-20 vision, Hoyer constantly under threw his passes (Andrew Hawkins should have scored a touchdown on the last play of the game) and always seemed to throw off his back foot. He got lucky on a couple ducks, but overall he left much to be desired. Luckily for Hoyer, this is the best quarterbacking Browns fans have seen in quite some time.
— Chris Sladoje (@CST_Doje)
Photo via clevelandbrowns.com