3 Takeaways From Browns’ Week 12 Win vs. Buccaneers
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With the score tied at 4-7, the Cleveland Browns are highly unlikely to make the postseason in 2022. Sunday’s victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at least gave a little hope as Cleveland awaits the debut of quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Watson’s suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy – which came after twenty-five women filed lawsuits accusing him of sexual misconduct or assault – expires this week. A 10-7 or 8-9 finish is still technically possible for the Browns. Whether that’s enough to make the playoffs is another story.
Was it a good game for Cleveland? Absolutely not. The Browns scored a touchdown on their opening drive and did not find the end zone again until seconds remained in regulation.
However, the defense played well enough to contain the offense of Tom Brady and the Buccaneers to give Cleveland a chance, which was a nice change after it crumbled into losses to the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills.
The win keeps Cleveland’s meager playoff hopes alive, which is arguably the biggest takeaway from Week 12. Here’s what else we learned from the Browns’ Week 12 victory over Tampa Bay.
The Browns have not given up on the season yet
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We’ve spent a lot of time this season discussing what went wrong for the Browns, and a lot of the team’s problems stem from coaching. Head coach Kevin Stefanski has made some questionable calls, and defensive coordinator Joe Woods’ plan may be too complicated for some players.
“If you don’t know what you’re doing, it never works,” safety Grant Delpit said after last week’s loss to Buffalo, according to Cleveland.com’s Dan Labbe.
On Sunday, however, it became clear that the players are not giving up the season yet.
Myles Garrett’s quick breakaway from Brady in third in overtime was just the kind of try-hard play teams won’t get when they’ve given up. And Garrett was far from the only player to fight against a strong Buccaneers team on Sunday.
Nick Chubb scored 116 hard-earned yards, while Amari Cooper (seven catches for 94 yards) put in another stellar game. The defense pressured Brady all game, hitting him three times and limiting big plays from guys not named Chris Godwin.
This was arguably Cleveland’s best overall team effort of the season, aside from the Week 8 victory over the rival Cincinnati Bengals. It may be too late to turn things around, but the Browns are still doing their best.
Cleveland fans have seen some past Browns teams give up hope in underwhelming campaigns. This is not one of those teams.
Martin Emerson Jr. could be a star
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AP Photo/Terrance Williams
Godwin second fired the Browns for 110 yards and a touchdown while catching 12 of 13 targets. His running mate, Mike Evans, was much calmer in the afternoon.
This was a testament to how good rookie cornerback Martin Emerson Jr. played on Sunday, as he partnered Evans for most of the game. Evans finished with just two catches for 31 yards on nine targets.
There’s virtually no chance Cleveland would have won this game if Emerson hadn’t shined as brightly as he does.
Emerson has been a bright spot for Cleveland all season. Mississippi State’s third-round draft pick was one of the league’s top rookie defensemen in 2022, having already made 50 tackles and an impressive 11 passes defensed.
Marcus Mosher of Pro Football Focus recently included Emerson on his list of the 25 Greatest Cornerbacks in the NFL.
“Emerson is a liability as a defender – the only reason he is not in the top 20 on our list,” Mosher wrote. “Still, the sky is the limit for Mississippi State’s former third-round pick.”
Evans, Brady and the Buccaneers have seen firsthand just how special Emerson can be on a Sunday.
JaCoby Brissett should get a starting opportunity sometime in 2023
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AP Photo/David Richard
With Watson expected to debut for the Browns in Week 13, Sunday was likely the last start for quarterback Jacoby Brissett in 2023. Hopefully Cleveland fans appreciate how well Brissett has played this season.
The 29-year-old faced a very unenviable position with the Browns, starting the first 11 games while knowing he was just a placeholder. Yet he fully embraced his role as a leader in the locker room.
“Grateful for this opportunity. Thankful for those men in that room,” Brissett saidaccording to 92.4 The fan.
And Brissett has played about as well as any quarterback for the Browns in the expansion era. If he does indeed finish the year, he will finish with 2,608 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, six interceptions and a respectable 89.1 passer rating. He was instrumental in taking the win on Sunday.
Brissett did have an interception—in a desperate attempt to end the first half—but he finished with 210 passing yards and a touchdown while also rushing for 27 yards. He made two clutch plays late.
The first was the 12-yard touchdown pass to David Njoku on 4th and 10. The second was a 45-yard strike to Cooper that set off Chubb’s walk-off overtime touchdown. Brissett bought a lot of time in the pocket with that game before Cooper broke away in secondary.
Ideally, Cleveland would keep Brissett as a long-term back-up in the off-season, but that’s probably not going to happen. Brady’s former understudy has shown this season that he deserves a chance to start sometime in 2023.