CLEVELAND — Robert Griffin III guided the Cleveland Browns’ starting offense to one touchdown in three possessions in Thursday’s 21-7 preseason finale loss to the Chicago Bears.
Griffin was one of the few starting quarterbacks to play in the final exhibition game. The best that can be said about Griffin’s night is that he played and got more time with the starters. In one quarter, he had three drives, scored seven points and went 4-for-8 for 31 yards.
It took six plays to score.
Griffin converted one third down, hitting a wide-open Crowell out of the backfield for 12 yards on third-and-7. Crowell’s score came from the 4 on an inside handoff out of the shotgun.
It was hardly a scintillating evening, especially considering the starters played the Bears’ backups. Griffin averaged 3.9 yards per attempt. In three possessions, the offense got four first downs and 50 total yards on 16 plays, an average of 3.1 yards per play.
The first drive went three and out as Griffin sailed a third-down pass over the head of Corey Coleman.
The second had two first downs — one on a run, the other on a screen pass — before stalling as Griffin threw the ball away as he was being pressured.
The final drive started at the 18 courtesy of Carder’s fumble recovery.
The positive for Griffin from his first preseason in Cleveland: five big plays. But without the big plays the offense sputtered. Those five went for 215 yards and three touchdowns.
Set those aside and Griffin was 17-for-33 for 98 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.
Overall for the preseason, Griffin finished 22-for-38 for 313 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. His overall rating: 100.0. His rating without the big plays: 45.1.
When it was starters vs. backups, the Browns looked …: OK, and that’s being kind. The offense averaged 3.1 yards per play and scored thanks to a short field when the Bears botched a punt. Top running backs Crowell and Duke Johnson combined for 19 yards on eight carries. The three main receivers — Terrelle Pryor, Corey Coleman and Andrew Hawkins — did not catch a pass when when the starting offense was on the field, nor did tight end Gary Barnidge. Meanwhile, Griffin averaged less than four yards per attempt. The good: The Browns turned a turnover into a touchdown. The not-so-good: The first-team offense put up those kind of numbers facing the Bears’ backups.
Suspension mode? Receiver Josh Gordon had a few “interesting” plays in the first half as he played in the second quarter with the second-team offense. On one, cornerback Jacoby Glenn stepped in front of Gordon for an interception. On the next, Gordon basically stood and watched the ball as Glenn reached around him to knock it down. Gordon was bailed out by an interference call against Glenn. Finally, Gordon flat-out stopped on a route and McCown’s pass was nearly intercepted. Gordon has moments like that but then others when he looks unstoppable. On this night he looked almost uninterested. The preseason finale was Gordon’s last game for a month. He will be suspended the first four games of the season.
Offensive execution: The Browns’ offense scored 11, 13, 13 and seven points in four preseason games. The touchdown against Chicago came on a six-play, 18-yard drive. On Kessler’s first 14 plays, the offense totaled minus-3 yards. In four games, the offense averaged 214 yards per game, and in total the Browns were outscored 92-44. Coach Hue Jackson, though, said the preseason is over and it was about evaluation. “Now it’s about finding a way to win, by any means necessary,” Jackson said.
Who got hurt? Backup running back Rajion Neal left in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a serious knee injury. Neal is a first-year player from Tennessee.
Too many and then too few: As the Bears lined up from the Browns’ 2, the Browns were flagged for having 12 on the field. The ball moved ahead one yard, and Ka’Deem Carey scored. On the touchdown, the Browns had 10 on the field.
Rookie time: With Paul Kruger released, rookie Emmanuel Ogbah figures to get the first chance to play in his spot. The Browns clearly feel as if they need to get Ogbah and Carl Nassib ready. Both were playing into the third quarter after both had good defensive plays in the first half, Ogbah with a sack, Nassib knocking down a third-down pass. Second-year linebacker Nate Orchard, slated to start at the other outside spot, played into the fourth quarter.