Cleveland Browns vs New York Giants: What Did We Learn

With an important week 15 game out of the way, there were quite a few things to take note of for both teams in this game.  In the Cleveland Browns 20-6 victory over the New York Giants on SNF, we saw a lot of different players make impacts than we expected to see.  In this article, I will be going over some of the more important storylines coming out of this game. As well as why they are important to the teams.

The Browns Can Win With a Pass First Scheme

Normally with the Cleveland offense, we see a ton of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt driving the ball down the field.  However, coming into this game the Browns knew the game plan and stuck to it. Get complete passes first, run second.  The Giants front 7 is relatively stout and can hold when needed. However, they are not exceptional in the pass-rushing department.  This showed with the Browns rushing scheme, only running the ball 26 times between three backs.  

There are a few stats to look at when regarding ground to air ratio and how much each is used. This is Nick Chubb’s 2nd least amount of touches in a game (disregarding his injury game in week 4). Also, it was his least amount of ground yards in a game this season (also disregarding week 4). In reference to Kareem Hunt, it’s his second least amount of touches and yards all season as well. This really goes to show how much the Browns passed the ball throughout the game. It’s impressive to see the versatility of this team, as before this game they were a pretty heavy run offense.

The Giants Secondary Has Work To Do

Upfront within the trenches, the Giants were able to make stops and force Baker Mayfield to throw the ball.  The issue with doing this for them is that the secondary was getting cleaned out underneath.  A large majority of the Browns passing attack came through 2 types of routes, slants/drags and wheel routes.  While there were certainly other types of routes thrown in, this is what got the Browns the most success.  The Giants linebackers were left out to dry attempting to cover people like Jarvis Landry, Austin Hooper, and Donovan Peoples-Jones.  This resulted in a lot of blown coverage inside the hash marks by corners and linebackers.  

Another thing that ended up killing the Giants secondary was the red zone coverage.  This secondary occasionally gives gaps to receivers in the red zone, which Baker took advantage of every time.  The Giants need to either find a way to cover up players running through the middle or find a way to force outside routes.  Especially with tight ends. If you let them get into your corners/safeties you may end up giving up a large chunk of yards.  The linebackers being taught how to cover slightly better would help alleviate this issue to an extent I believe.

The Giants O-Line is Getting Better…Progressively

It seems like the addition of Andrew Thomas via the draft is finally starting to pay off a little bit.  Colt McCoy was only sacked once all game, and for having to block with new cadences and plays that’s pretty impressive on the lines part.  Being able to hold Myles Garrett in check for a large portion of the game is bounds and leaps better than last year’s offensive line.  While this didn’t pay off in the passing game too much, it definitely did in the run game in some cases.  The stats may not show it but the Giants outside line was doing good for the running backs.  The interior line ehhhhhhh not so much.  

This would be why I said progressively in the header and not is better.  It’s definitely not a stout and aggressive line in all 5 facets, but it looks better than last year in a few ways.  If the Giants can get hold of a few interior linemen in the offseason via draft or free agency, that would be huge for Daniel Jones.  Protecting him/whoever may be the QB is the major detail in getting the ball downfield, which they can do to some extent.  Not having much of an interior line will kill off the run game at one point or another, however, which is crucial.

The Browns Lost One Receiver…Then Gained Two

Losing Odell Beckham Jr. earlier in the season seemed to take a blow to the Browns offensive production for a bit.  This forced them to be run-heavy for awhile like I mentioned before.  However, there are 2 breakout wide receivers we are now witnessing on this offense, and they could bring back that production. 

Starting with the rookie, Donovan Peoples-Jones or DPJ for short, the rookie out of Michigan.  As a 6th round pick, not a lot of people were expecting him to really produce, at least in his first year.  Man was that far from the truth though.  This kid is an extraordinary talent athletically, which I think we should have seen coming.  He outperformed every other combine participant in the vertical (44.5”) and broad jumps (11’7”). Also, he ran a respectable 4.48 40-yard dash time.  With 3 receptions Sunday for 55 yards (18.3 YPC), he is proving himself to be a fantastic threat for the Browns offense.

Secondly, we have a slightly more seasoned player in Rashard Higgins.  In his fifth year with the Browns now, he has seemingly taken over the WR2 spot behind Jarvis Landry.  On Sunday he had 4 receptions for 76 yards (19.0 YPC) which is absolutely insane.  Getting almost 2 first downs worth of yards per catch you make is a huge addition to your offensive scheme.  While not posting a touchdown this game, he was eating up yards for a large majority of it.  His longest play of the day being a 22-yard reception and run.  

Summary

This game left the Giants tied for 2nd in the NFC East with the Dallas Cowboys. For them, this is a shape up or ship out moment. They have to really produce in these last two games (Week 16: away against the Baltimore Ravens, Week 17: home against the Dallas Cowboys) and hope the WFT loses at least one of their next two games since the Giants have the tiebreaker.

For the Browns?  This is a defining moment for the team.  Leaving them off in the 5th seed, for now, they look forward to the MNF game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals.  Should the 11-2 Steelers lose and move to 11-3, the 10-4 Browns would be looking to take over that spot.  This division lead could very well come down to the week 17 Matchup of Browns vs Steelers.

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