85 degrees and clear
- Heading into the game, Cleveland had lost fifteen road games in a row and were winless this year, but had outgained the New York Jets a week ago in a close game. They were playing a game against a Texans team that lost their last game and were without two of their best players on defense.
- This was ultimately a game played between two teams with different philosophies on how to manage a young quarterback. Houston Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien played rookie first round pick QB Deshaun Watson while Cleveland’s rookie quarterback, Deshone Kizer didn’t see action. Instead, second year quarterback Kevin Hogan started the game for the Browns.
- Houston began the game by having Watson throw short and intermediate passes. Watson threw a total of nine completed passes out of seventeen during the game to his tight ends and tailbacks. The gameplan also allowed Watson to make some plays with his feet.
- In contrast, Kevin Hogan was forced to throw the ball deep down field and was never able to get into a rhythm. The Browns kept trying to drive the ball down the field. He finished 20 for 37 for 140 yards and three interceptions including one that was returned for a touchdown. A better course of action would be to throw to the backs and tight ends more frequently to allow Hogan to get into a rhythm.
- Cleveland as they are accustomed to doing, blitzed frequently during the game. The Texans used a good amount of pre-snap motion, especially early on to confuse or slow down the Browns. Also, they would use play action and the threat of the QB run game to either throw off the Browns timing of the blitzes or to catch players out of positon. Houston hit a number of big plays and scoring plays by employing these techniques.
- Down 24-3, but with an opportunity to make it a two score game with a touchdown and after a good defensive stop by their defense, the Browns began a drive at the end of the first half at their own 21-yard line with 1:42 left. They only had one timeout remaining. They had misused one earlier in the quarter. However, even with this one timeout, they threw passes to receivers that were unable to get out of bounds. Hogan was sacked and finally had to take a timeout. They didn’t operate on offense with any sense of urgency to get within the end zone or even field goal range. This would have given them momentum for the second half as the Browns had possession of the ball in the second half.
- Houston did a good job of closing out the game with the steady use of the running backs, Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman. They along with Watson combined for thirty-three rushing attempts and this kept the Browns off the field. However, at one point, the Texans were up 23 late in the game and Watson was still in the game. Why risk an injury to a dynamic player in an already decided game? This was a game where Cleveland could get nothing going offensively.