Grading The Positions From The Browns vs. Steelers Game

How did the Browns' positional units do against the Steelers this past Sunday?

The Cleveland Browns might have had their largest loss in terms of points for the 2010 campaign, but that doesn't mean all of the positions performed poorly. It's time to grade the positions once again with a "Pass" or "Fail." The grades focus on the unit's performance for that particular week.

OFFENSE

  • QB (PASS): While he threw two interceptions in his first career game, Colt McCoy handled himself very well against a tough Steelers defense. He didn't look intimidated, he made some great throws after using his mobility, and his reads were better than I anticipated them being. He seemed to grow more comfortable as the game went on, despite being without the team's top two wide receivers (due to concussions).
  • RB (FAIL): It's not that Peyton Hillis did bad, but it's always tough to run against Pittsburgh's defense. If Cleveland was going to win, they needed to have close to a 100-yard effort from their running backs on the ground. The running game failed to provide that. In Mike Bell's debut, he had a quiet two carries.
  • WR (FAIL): The Browns were at a disadvantage at this position with Joshua Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi leaving with concussions. That left them with two active receivers -- the always quiet Brian Robiskie, and the niche-filling Chansi Stuckey.
  • TE (PASS): Once again, Ben Watson and Evan Moore continue to give the Browns what I'd consider to perhaps be the best receiving tight end group in the division. Moore showed good chemistry with McCoy and would've had a touchdown catch late if a defender hadn't jumped on his back. Watson caught McCoy's lone touchdown pass.
  • OL (PASS): Several sacks were given up, but some of them were due to McCoy's inexperience early on in the game. Overall, they prevented McCoy from taking big hits and showed the toughness necessary to keep Cleveland in the game. Unfortunately, Tony Pashos was lost for the season with an ankle injury.

DEFENSE

  • DL (FAIL): The Browns held Rashard Mendenhall to a low YPC average, but for all the times the Steelers were backed up, where is a player like Shaun Rogers getting pressure in Roethlisberger's face?
  • LB (FAIL): Our linebackers have tackled well all year and gotten decent pressure from their outside linebackers, but that wasn't the case against Pittsburgh. Tackles were missed, Roethlisberger couldn't be brought down when three defenders were on him, and the "clutch play" was just never there.
  • DB (FAIL): Eric Wright continues to get picked on, as he was largely responsible for giving up two touchdowns (although the all-out blitzes don't help either). T.J. Ward also gave up a big pass play to Mike Wallace. Joe Haden had a nice first-quarter interception, but that's not enough to counter the Steelers' big plays.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • ST (PASS / FAIL): Since the punter and punt returner are two different positions, I had to give two grades here. Reggie Hodges was incredible at punting the ball inside the five yard line, and that alone should have allowed Cleveland to win the game (but the defense failed). The failing part of the grade here is given to Chansi Stuckey for muffing a punt in the fourth quarter that sealed the game for Pittsburgh.

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