Top Takeaways: Another fast start by Browns fizzles fast against Bills in 31-23 loss

CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Don’t be fooled by the final score.

Sunday’s 31-23 loss to the Bills at Ford Field in Detroit was not nearly as close as the final score indicated as another comedy of errors cost the Browns and led to their sixth loss in seven games.

This week it was: two dropped passed that would’ve been touchdowns, another would-be score that was out of bounds, a fumble, failed fourth down quarterback sneak, a blocked field goal and enough penalties at the wrong times.

Here are our Top Takeaways from another folly-filled Sunday of Browns football.

1. Same song and dance: Browns start strong, opponent adjusts, Browns crumble. Rinse, repeat.

2. For as ugly as that was to watch, it could’ve been much, much worse on the scoreboard if it were not for six Tyler Bass field goals for the Bills.

3. Details matter. The Browns are terrible at details. That’s why they are 3-7 overall and now an mindboggling 0-5 when they score on their opening drive.

4. You keep telling yourself Deshaun Watson is fixing this mess in two weeks. Whatever helps you sleep better at night.

5. Jacoby Brissett completed 28 of 41 passes for a season-high 324 yards and three touchdowns. Josh Allen didn’t throw for 200 yards. The Browns still lost, again.

6. Who is to blame for this disaster? Look no further than Kevin Stefanski, who appears better suited to be an offensive coordinator than a head coach. Then comes Joe Woods and Mike Priefer, who continue to defy the odds by remaining employed. Stefanski is a nice guy, creative gameplan drawer and script writer. He doesn’t appear to take charge of much and in-game adjustments remain a foreign concept. Stefanski seems to be coaching like this year is a mulligan for him, and his team is playing like it too.

7. Stefanski looks like a one-year wonder. He was all the rage when he won Coach of the Year after performing a miracle to get the Browns an 11-5 season to end an 18-year playoff drought amid a pandemic in 2020. After starting his second year 3-1, the wheels have fallen off the wagon. Cleveland is 8-15 under him since.

8. Another week, another bad afternoon for the run defense. The Bills finished with 171 yards on the ground, their second-highest total of the season. Devin Singletary and James Cook both ran for 86 yards. It was the fifth time in seven games the Browns gave up 150+ on the ground. No surprise, they’re 0-5 in those games.

9. Buffalo scored on six straight drives as they put up 25 unanswered points after the Browns extended to a 10-3 lead on Cade York’s 32-yard field goal with 14:05 left in the second quarter.

10. Brissett went 0-3 throwing touchdown passes to tight ends. Harrison Bryant and Pharaoh Brown both failed to come up with scores on back-to-back plays in the first quarter. Then Bryant couldn’t get both feet down on the back line on a potential TD catch in the third quarter.

11. Give Amri Cooper his flowers. One of very few bright spots Sunday. Cooper caught eight passes for 113 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

12. Also Donovan Peoples-Jones caught five passes for 61 yards, including his first touchdown of the season, which came with 19 seconds remaining. Good to see DPJ get on the board in his hometown.

13. The Browns showed resiliency on their opening drive. They overcame three tackles for losses and converted a pair of third-and-11s – Brissett scrambled for 22 and Cooper caught a 17-yard pass – before capping the drive with a 25-yard grab in tight coverage for his sixth touchdown of the season and an early 7-0 lead. Unfortunately, that’s as good as the day got.

14. Center Ethan Pocic went to the locker room in the first quarter with a knee injury forcing Hjalte Froholdt to take over at center. Brissett and Froholdt had a fumbled exchange that the Bills recovered. It only cost three points but that play began the turn of the tide in the game.

15. Combined with Pocic’s injury and Jack Conklin getting shaken up again, the Browns got bullied in the trenches for a second consecutive week. Nick Chubb was held to 19 yards on 14 carries. Kareem Hunt had 32 on five.

16. Buffalo went nearly 21 minutes without a first down to start the game but a missed tackle by Grant Delpit with just over 8 minutes to play in the first half that saw Buffalo convert a third-and-10 helped wake the Bills offense up. They never looked back.

17. With 18 seconds remaining in the first half, the Browns called timeout when they saw Stefon Diggs line up in the backfield to Allen’s right. Out of that timeout, Diggs lined up in the slot to the right and was left wide open on a 5-yard touchdown pass crossing over the middle to the left that gave Buffalo a 13-10 lead at intermission. The confusion out of a timeout is Joe Woods’ defensive unit in a microcosm this season. They seem constantly disorganized, especially in the secondary.

18. The unthinkable happened in the third quarter to Brissett and the Browns. Brissett was stuffed on QB sneaks on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 giving the Bills the ball at their own 27 with 5:49 remaining in the quarter.

19. Buffalo used that defensive stop to walk right down the field and take control of the game. The drive was capped by Devin Singletary’s 5-yard touchdown run. John Johnson III saved two points by knocking Isaiah McKenzie out of bounds at the 1 to keep it a 22-10 score.

20. In this week’s installment of ‘Why does Mike Priefer still have a job?’ his special teams unit gave up 37 punt return yards on two attempts and on three kickoff returns 76 yards. York had another kick blocked – this time a 34-yard try in the third quarter that would’ve cut Buffalo’s lead to 22-13. Instead, it remained 22-10. That was the third blocked kick this season by a Browns opponent. An onside kick try with 4:16 remaining only went 7 yards and the Bills easily fell on the ball for the recovery. They also failed to recover another one in the closing seconds. Par for the course.

21. The loss to the Bills joins losses to the Jets, Falcons, Chargers and Ravens on the growing list of games that were winnable but given away by the Browns this season.

22. Ownership might want to place a call to Sean Payton ASAP. Not sure it would be wise to just assume Stefanski and this staff will get the most out of Deshaun Watson because they continue to not get the most out of the players they already have.

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