Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Browns Lost at Home to the Texans

J.J. Watt catches a TD pass over Karlos Dansby
The Browns took a major step back today with a 23-7 loss to the Houston Texans in Cleveland. The Texans played without Arian Foster, but still racked up a whopping 214 yards on the ground, as rookie tailback Alfred Blue out of LSU ran for 156 yards on 36 carries.

Thirty-six carries by a rookie running back starting his first game. Fifty-four rushing attempts in all. That is Commitment to the Run. Thirty-six carries by a rookie tailback starting his first game. For the Texans, too, Ryan Mallett made his first start and did okay, throwing two TD passes, including one to J.J. Watt.

Cleveland made too many mistakes. Cleveland gave Houston four first downs on penalties, Paul Kruger dropped an interception, and Brian Hoyer was off his game. He tripped over the feet of his own linemen on more than one occasion, and he missed open receivers multiple times.

The Texans ran for 214 yards against the Browns.
Hoyer threw 50 times -- which was about 25 too many attempts for him. He completed 30 of the 50 attempts and had one interception and one TD pass.

Watt hounded Hoyer all day. As reported on, "Watt was all over the field. Along with his TD, he recorded a strip sack, made five tackles - three for a loss - recovered a fumble and hurried Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer into several bad throws. Watt provided more proof he's the NFL's best defensive player."

Adding injury to the insult of the loss, defensive leader Karlos Dansby suffered a knee injury. No word yet on how severe the injury is.

Where was this the last couple years?

If you want to shake your head in wonderment (and a little nausea), read this article (with video highlights) posted on the Denver Broncos' website.

Titled, "Emmanuel Sanders on the Art of the Spectacular Catch," it gushes about how wonderful Sanders has been this year for the Broncos.

The article pronounces, "Sanders has secured 62 of 63 catchable passes this season (according to Pro Football Focus), good for the second-lowest drop rate (1.59 percent) of any receiver with at least 50 targets. He has at least 14 more receptions than any player who PFF has not credited with a drop this season."

Emmanuel Sanders, dropping the ball in Baltimore
Anybody who watched Sanders with the Steelers last year remembers his maddening propensity to come up short in clutch situations. He had key drops in numerous games, starting with the season opener vs. Tennessee, when he dropped two perfectly thrown long passes, and -- most infuriatingly -- in the end zone against Baltimore in a must-win game late in the season. He makes that catch, the Steelers make the playoffs. He was not clutch for the Steelers.

Sanders's 62 receptions this year puts him close to last year's total of 67 for the Steelers. He has six touchdowns. His designated primary replacement, Marcus Wheaton, has 35 receptions so far this year, and two touchdowns.

Still, Sanders's performance for the Steelers last year left a lot to be desired. His drops last year came at crucial times -- remember the dropped two-point conversion on Thanksgiving night vs. Baltimore? ... the nail-in-the-coffin loss when he choked repeatedly, dropping several passes, as noted the next day on this blog:
"Sanders topped his first-quarter drop of a long pass right on the numbers by failing to catch another long pass right on the numbers, with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter and looking stupid doing it. Then, Sanders bungled the two-point conversion that would have tied the game. 
If the definition of "clutch" is to thrive and get better in the bigger moments, Sanders ain't clutch."
Emmanuel Sanders, after the infamous
dropped two-point conversion vs. Baltimore.
This point was reiterated over at Behind the Steel Curtain:
"Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders choked throughout the game, dropping several passes, including a two-point conversion with a minute and change left on the clock that would have tied the game."
For all his shortcomings, Sanders was slippery, showed some flash on occasion and came up with enough catches to end up with 67 receptions in 2013 for a pedestrian 11-yards-per catch average (740 yards), a long catch of 55 yards for a TD, six touchdowns, 12 catches of 20 yards or more, three catches of 40 yards-plus. He had 10 kick returns for a very decent 28.6 yard average, with the longest return being 46 yards.

Sanders is gone, now, of course, and lighting it up for the Broncos. But, as Scott Brown at ESPN noted before the last game of the 2013 season, "Sanders' well-documented drops have raised questions about his consistency, and his high opinion of his skills will price him out of the Steelers' range if another team agrees with him."

While Sanders is doing well this year, Steeler Nation has to ask, "Where was this sort of consistency and reliability last year?"

Zack Mettenberger has a chance

Less than a year ago Tennessee Titans rookie quarterback Zack Mettenberger tore his left ACL, which occurred during a Nov. 29th LSU-Arkansas game. That injury, and some other issues (behavioral) left question marks about him, and he fell to the second pick of the sixth round, the 178th overall selection of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Zach Mettenberger
He definitely has an NFL arm, and he's got the size (6'5", 225). Before the draft, Joey Porter's Pit Bulls was checking out some LSU video to see wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Both of them looked dynamite, but some of the throws Mettenberger made were seriously attention-getting. Like, "whoa," eye-popping, attention-getting type throws.

When he was there in the sixth round, the Titans had to take a flier on him. Now that he's the starter, the job is his until he loses it. He's got every opportunity to establish himself in the NFL, and he could end up being a very good NFL quarterback.

Steeler Nation will get a closer look at him on Monday night, and we'll see whether he looks more like Ben Roethlisberger ... or Landry Jones.

For what it's worth, while Mettenberger is a starting quarterback in the NFL after lasting until the sixth round, the Steelers' two fifth-round picks are no longer with the team. Cornerback Shaquille Richardson (157th overall) was placed on the practice squad reserve/injured list on Oct. 17th and subsequently reached an injury settlement with the team; and offensive lineman Wesley Johnson (173rd overall) was released on Oct. 13th and then claimed off waivers by the New York Jets.


Memphis Daily News: How's Mettenberger doing? Same as other rookies

ESPN: Mettenberger not holding onto the ball long most of the time

The Sporting News: "Zack Mettenberger has six weeks to prove he's worthy of the Titans' trust"

Sports on Earth: LSU Pro Day Report