Browns: Bye Week Grades

By Will Burge

Some people give you overall grades. Some give you positional grades. No one, and I mean no one, gives you player by player grades at the bye week. It isn’t because I’m better than anyone else but simply because I had a TON of spare time on my hands with the Browns off for four days.

So here we go. I have included some grades from my twitter followers as well at a few positions.



Coly McCoy – Grade: C- (100-172, 58%, 984 yards, 6TDs, 3INTs, 5.7 yards per attempt)

McCoy has had one good drive through four games. The fact that the one good drive gave the Browns a come from behind victory over the Dolphins boosted his score from a D+ to a C-. He has missed quite a few open throws and needs to learn to trust what is around him, especially the line. They get some flack but have performed pretty well overall. Colt still needs to learn how to step up in the pocket and throw with confidence instead of running at the first sign of trouble.

Fan Grade: @ClevelandBebbs said “Colt McCoy B-, has played well; must get better”


Peyton Hillis – Grade: C+ (54 rushes, 197 yards, 2TDs, 3.6 yards per carry [played 3 of 4 games])

Hillis had only 17 carries against the Bengals and 10 against the Titans. Against the Colts, however, he had 27 carries for 97 yards and 2 TDS. In the Titans game Hillis was more of a non-factor because the game got away from the Browns early but he did not run well against Cincy. That poor game, plus the lost fumble in Indy, gives him a C+ overall.

Fan Grade: @XCWarrior1 said “Management gets an F for not finishing Hillis contract during this week AND not going out + signing/trading for a viable WR.”

Montario Hardesty – Grade: B- (29 rushes, 108 yards, 0TDs, 1 fumble, 3.7 yards per carry)

Hills’ and Hardesty’s stats look very similar but the reason Hardesty gets a B- is that he was put into a difficult spot having to start before he was physically ready against Miami. In that game he rushed 19 times for 67 yards and also added 19 yards receiving. He has shown above average blocking, good vision, and most importantly has stayed healthy.


Mohammad Massaquoi – Grade: B+ (14 receptions, 194 yards, 1TD, 13.9 yards per reception)

Despite missing the entire pre-season, Massaquoi has looked the most confortable in the newly installed west coast offense. His above average route running has allowed him to become the most consistent passing threat. The game winning TD catch against Miami gave his grade a little boost.

Josh Cribbs – Grade: A (12 receptions, 153 yards, 1TD, 12.8 yards per reception)

Cribbs has taken his biggest jump as a wide receiver in his career but the high grade comes from his kick returns. Despite the kick return rule changes, Cribbs has not been slowed. He has sparked the offense in multiple weeks and made an impact when he is able to get his hands on some passes.

Greg Little – Grade: C+ (14 receptions, 131 yards, 0TDs, 9.4 yards per reception)

I would like to see Little assert himself more early in games. He seems to become more effective as the game wears on. He knows how to use his big body to shield defenders from the ball and blocks well. He needs to find the end zone and become the most dangerous receiver on the Browns in the final 12 games.

Brian Robiskie – Grade: D- (3 receptions, 25 yards, 0TDs, 8.3 yards per reception)

Where has Brian Robiskie been? I know the answer. He’s been working his way out of the offensive game plan. All three of his catches came in the blowout loss to the Titans where he was essentially a non-factor again. His blocking is the only thing that kept him from an F.

Jordan Norwood – Grade: Incomplete

Carlton Mitchell – Grade: Incomplete


Ben Watson – Grade: B+ (16 reception, 173 yards, 2TDs, 10.8 yards per reception)

Watson has been far and away the best receiving threat on the team. He is the only receiver that McCoy shows confidence in on the field. I have a hunch you will see more plays that have Watson as a deep threat in the final 12 games.

Evan Moore – Grade: D+ (7 receptions, 85 yards, 2 TDs, 12.1 yards per reception)

Moore has not been the playmaker the Browns would have liked so far this season. I know what you’re thinking, “but he hasn’t been on the field!” Think about this for a moment: Why would the Browns not give many snaps to a guy they gave a contract extension and has the most “big play” potential on the team? Maybe it has something to do with the two different one-handed attempts on very catchable balls or the fact he is a below average blocker. Effort goes a long way.

Alex Smith – Grade: C (5 receptions, 41 yards, 0TDs, 8.2 yards per reception)

He is backup tight end who blocks well. Any catches they get from Smith are a bonus.

Jordan Cameron – Grade: Incomplete


Joe Thomas – Grade: B-

Thomas would have a higher grade but he has had some off-sides penalties that you wouldn’t expect from a veteran. I have only seen him get beat twice and once was by Dwight Freeney on a speed rush.

Jason Pinkston – Grade: C

I think before the season most people would have taken a C from the rookie left guard. He has been very solid. He has gotten beat here and there but never consistently. He has adapted well to the speed of the game and is initiating contact more and more.

Alex Mack – Grade: B+

Mack is about as good as it gets at center. Not only has he been very steady in pass protection but we have seen a little bit of the “mean streak” he lacked in the first few years of his career.

Shawn Lauvao – Grade: C-

Lauvao has been solid as well. He needs to eliminate the penalties and from time to time he doesn’t get the push you would like from your right guard.

Tony Pashos/Artis Hicks/Oniel Cousins  – Grade: D

When there has been pressure on McCoy it has almost always came from this position. Pashos is finally healthy and needs to find that rhythm with Lauvao next to him.



Jayme Mitchell – Grade: C- (14tackles, 12 solo, 1.5 sacks, 1 fumble)

Opposing teams have keyed on running right at Mitchell week in and week out. Mitchell has certainly improved from game 1 but still needs to become stouter on run defense. His pass rush is slightly above average at this point.

Ahtyba Rubin – Grade: B (18tackles, 12 solo, 2.5 sacks)

The pressure Rubin has created form the defensive tackle position in a 4-3 scheme is amazing. He has become the rock on the defensive line. The only thing keeping him from an A grade was that he was not able to get into the backfield against the Titans.

Phil Taylor – Grade: B (20 tackles, 11 solo, 1 sack)

Taylor has adjusted to the NFL game quicker than anyone could have ever imagined. He has become a huge key in pass rush as well as clogging up the run in between the tackles. Once again, the only thing that kept him from an A was lack of pressure against the Titans.

Jabaal Sheard – Grade: C+ (14 tackles, 10 solo, 1 sack, 1 fumble)

Sheard is a future pass rush superstar. Since the move to the opposite side of the line, he has been disruptive in in the passing game and much better against the run. I would not be surprised if he ended up with an A at the end of the season.

Fan Grade: @SamEC37 said “Sheard should get a B+ despite not having the #’s he had been in the backfield disrupting the QB every week but last week.”


Chris Gocong – Grade: C- (10 tackles, 5 solo, .5 sacks)

Gocong is another reason the rush defense has been suspect. Teams have attacked his side of the field time and time again. His defense improved in games 3 and 4 but he was so bad in games 1 and 2 that it cannot be ignored. The stinger that kept him out of the whole pre-season may have something to do with his slow start.

D’Qwell Jackson – Grade: A+ (40 tackles, 27 solo, 2.5 sacks, 1 fumble)

You can’t start a season much better than D’Qwell did and that’s why he was the AFC defensive player of the month. He has made tackles on both sidelines with ease and knows exactly when to abandon his zone and pressure the backfield. He has been by far the best player on the Browns through four games.

Fan Grade: @DPOUTZ said “@dq52 A+ he has been the stand out on defense he is a rock solid tackler and has improved his pass rush”

Scott Fujita – Grade: C (23 tackles, 15 solo)

Fujita has been solid. He has not been spectacular. Both he and Gocong have been a big reason the defense has allowed as much rushing yards as they have. He was also targeted by the Titans in pass coverage and he proved he cannot handle a tight end one-on-one.


Sheldon Brown – Grade: D (13 tackles, 10 solo, 1 fumble)

Brown has been solid on 80% of the snaps. Unfortunately for him, the 20% where he has not been solid he has been abysmal. He has been beat on comeback routes, he has been beat deep, he has been caught holding and got pass interference calls. His leadership and experience are valuable but he has been a weak link in a very good pass defense.

Joe Haden – Grade: A- (13 tackles, 11 solo, 1 sack)

Haden is budding into a superstar. He is now being assigned the opposing teams’ best receivers and shutting them down. If he keeps progressing at this rate he could become one of the best defensive backs in football.


T.J. Ward – Grade: C- (18 tackles, 14 solo)

I still think TJ Ward is one of the best young strong safeties in the game but he has had a rough start to this year. He has missed some key tackles, been burned in coverage, and made bad decisions in zone coverage that ended in touchdowns. No one needed a bye week more than TJ.

Usama Young – Grade: C+ (14 tackles, 10 solo, 1 interception)

Young is not known for his tackling and it showed. He has to improve in that category. He has been above average in pass coverage. More consistent reps should help him find his game in the final 12 games.

Mike Adams – Grade: C (10 tackles, 7 solo, 2 interceptions)

Adams really lacks the ability to cover across the middle. He isn’t terrible but he is exactly what he has been his entire career, a solid to above average back-up.

Special Teams

Phil Dawson – Grade: B+ (6-6 FGs)

Phil “freaking “Dawson is the very definition of reliable.

Brad Maynard – Grade: B (14 punts, 5 inside the 20, 40.5 yards per punt)

He has been more than solid since replacing the disaster that was Richmond “Punts” McGee.

Follow Will on Twitter @WillBurge




  1. i have to dissagree slightly on the Hillis Grade… He should be in on passing downs as he is one of the best set of hands out of the backfield in the league. he had 61 receptions last year including a stellar 1 hander for a TD. his lack of production is from poor player manegment choices from the rookie headcoach.

    I think you have the right grade for colt but i think his biggest problem is hes still thinking to much when in the pocket and looks to run because he plays with more instinct then

  2. So what does Phil Dawson have to do for an “A”? You said yourself “Phil “freaking “Dawson is the very definition of reliable.” With the weather and lake affect at the stadium, there is no one else I want to be kicking in the clutch with the game on the line. That males him an “A” rating that he has earned for years. You need to rethink this one!

  3. I think that WIll grades with that curve that drives me nuts. Meaning, no one can get an A score unless they are riding a white horse to the arena. Phil Dawson has earned an A. He hasn’t missed on anything. Its not like he can get better than that.

    Further, Joe Thomas and Alex Mack are just doing what Pro-Bowlers do… beat people up and on occasion get beaten by another Pro-Bowler. Sounds like two more As. Next, D’Qwell Jackson CANNOT have an A+ without A grades by Taylor and Rubin. They keep blockers off of him and allow him to make plays. By default, if you give Jackson an A+, you can’t give those guys anything other than an A. Also, I don’t see anyone running up the middle… Let’s give the fat guys some love. The Browns are getting strong on the line where it is most important.

    I also wanted to comment on Ben Watson. How can he get anything other than an A, when he is the ONLY passing threat on the field and he still makes more than his share of catches. We don’t run the ball, so we can’t even tell if he is run blocking or not. Watson gets an A… which also includes a bit of score from Massaquoi, Cribbs, and Robiski since none of them are helping him at all. Please… don’t even think to give Massaquoi the same grade as Watson. If he was of any value, he’d minimally have more catches than the TE.

  4. QB Colt McCoy D While McCoy’s numbers appear to be decent, overall, and the team has a record of 2-2, they are are misleading, if you actually watched the games. Lets take a look, game by game.

    Cincinnati was in town with a rookie QB making his first start. Browns lose 27-17, The punter was blamed, though he was punting with a herniated disc, had nothing to do with the numbers that follow, the defense fell asleep, yes they gave up 1 big play, but kept you in the game all day long.

    Offensively, the Browns were 4-15 on 3rd downs, had 72 penalty yards as a team, McCoy was 19-40 213 yds, 90 of which came on 2 receptions. Which means on 38 other attempts, he totaled 123 yards. To make matters worse, last 5 possessions of the game were as follows:

    Cincinnati 44 yard line: 5 plays, 0 yards, punt
    Cleveland 20 yard line: 6 plays 14 yards, punt
    Cleveland 11 yard line: 7 plays 23 yards, punt
    Cleveland 21 yard line: 4 plays,11 yards, punt
    Cleveland 44 yard line: 4 plays, 2 yards, downs
    Cleveland 28 yard line: 5 plays, 5 yards, interception

    His showing vs Colts, by far his best, most complete game of the season. 22-32 211 yards 1TD, yet I don’t think they win, without Hillis’ 31 touches.

    Leading the comeback win vs Miami, has been designated his “definng moment” I say it was more about Miami losing. McCoy had done close to nothing all day. 19-39 210 yards 2TDs 1INT, 9-13 75 yards on the final drive, that won the game. Basically, leading into the final drive, McCoy was 10-26 135 yards 1TD. Clearly a sign of what happens, when you play prevent, or soft zone to close a game.
    Either way, a win, is a WIN!

    An opportunity to make a statement presented itself here, fresh off of a defining moment win. The Browns actually scored in the 1st quarter, for the first time all year, it would also be their only score in the first quarter, heading into the bye.

    McCoy has a record setting day… really..? 40-61 350 yards 1TD 1INT (pick 6) all in a game they lost by 18, and for all intensive purposes, was over by halftime. McCoy was 28-42 213 yds 1TD in the second half. 40 completions, 61 attempts, 1TD (meaningless) in a game you lose by 18. Browns did go 8-20 on 3rd downs, and yes, the Titans were in zone in the 2nd half.

    McCoy has 100 completions through 4 games, 55 have been to TE’s. or RB’s, in other words, within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. Wr’s have caught passes late, usually vs prevent, zone, or broken coverages.

    No qustion McCoy has talent, but he was elevated to a position, in my opinion, he just isn’t ready for. Back in 2007, with Quinn in waiting, the Browns sent Frye packing, and Anderson out there to fail… but he didn’t.

  5. I’m confused as to how Hardesty has a higher grade than Hillis? Hardesty has had 1 decent game, but not had an impact, unless you factor in the 4 drops vs Tennessee. he hasn’t gotten into the end zone, your receord would be no different, if he hadn’t even seen the field. After seeing him vs Miami, its clear he has potential, and it was nice to see his legs getting under him, but opposing teams don’t fear, or game plan for Hardesty. If you grade on potential, then I apologize in advance.

    Hillis on the other hand, lets be honest, you don’t beat Indianapolis without him. Hardesty was given an opportunity goal line, and didn’t get it done. Hillis is 1st on the team in yards from scrimmage, tied for team lead in TDS, 2nd on the team in receptions, and he basically missed 1.5 games. He didn’t play at all the Miami game, and half as much as he should have the Tennessee game.

    This is clearly a case of where numbers, and production don’t lie. Hardesty has a fumble too, the recovered by Cleveland. Hillis has twice the production, no matter how you look at it, clearly more valuable to the browns, and what their able to do offensively.

    I get it, Hardesty gets extra credit, because he’s been able to stay healthy, that makes sense. Hillis with his contract distraction, I guess he gets flagged for that one too.

    Seriously, Hillis has played 1 less game, and his numbers, productivity, and effectiveness, without question, isn’t matched by Hardesty.

    My Grades Hillis B, Hardesty C

  6. Cribbs by far gets an A, he makes plays with the game having yet to be decided. With better QB play, his numbers in my opinion, would be far greater. Mccoy has missed him badly on several occasions. Cribbs only has 12 receptions, but he’s 3rd in yards per game, 2nd in average per reception, 1st in yards after catch.

    Clearly the Browns have to be more creative in getting him the ball. Cribbs should have at least 2 other TDs. He also has been outstanding in the return game, its clear to see, Cribbs is a different player, when healthy.

    Massaquoi B I just cant give Massaquoi anything higher at this point, most of his receptions, unless vs blown coverages, have come late, or vs zone. He doesn’t beat press coverage at the point of attack. His numbers aren’t what they could be, but that has more to do with QB play. After missing all of the preseason, he has come back and actually caught the ball well.

    More creative route running would benefit all the browns WR’s. I hope they watched other teams during the bye. Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Detroit, Green Bay, Philadelphia, and New England, all do a great job of creating space, windows of opportunity, getting their WR’s free releases.

    Little C Most of his catches have come last as well, his ball catching is improving, though he has some drops, and hasn’t created much separation. He was elevated to the starting lineup during the bye, it was the punter in the 1st game, Robiskie now, at what point does the QB situation get re-evaluated? Little is a physical specimen. Anxious to see if he makes an impact at Oakland.

    Robiskie C- Robiskie hasn’t been targeted as much, when he has gotten open, McCoy hasn’t even looked in his direction, must be that tunnel vision. Made a point to mention all 3 of his catches were in the blowout loss to Tennessee, so were almost half of Littles’, he managed to catch 6. Robiskie has very good hands, and I thought this offense would be perfect for him.

    In fairness to all the WR’s, McCoy doesn’t make anticipated throws, he is late on most, not recognizing windows of opportunity when they appear. He doesn’t lead guys into space, or open areas. Either its a lack of trust, or confidence. More times than not, if the guy isn’t wide open, or standing still, he doesn’t get it. How many times a game, have you seen balls forced to Watson in double, or triple coverage? Look for that this Sunday.

    Norwood C+ Norwood actually has 2 receptions for 25 yards, he hasn’t gotten many opportunities, but if you watch him when he’s on the field, he’s a guy that just knows how to get open. McCoy just doesn’t look in his direction. Norwood is another guy with very good hands. I would like to see him get more time, and opportunities.

    Mitchell Incomplete I really liked Mitchell, when he was drafted, had some very good moments in camp, I thought this would be his breakout year. Didn’t play during preseason, injury, but Browns apparently seen enough, for him to make final roster. Not sure when he’ll finally see the field, but I’m intrigued.

  7. Watson gets an A from me, he has probably been targeted more so than any other player, has been productive, blocks well, and has made plays. I wouldn’t go as far as calling him the Browns best receiving threat, though TE is amatchup advantage the Browns seem to have, and don’t exploit enough. McCoy goes to him so often because he is usually closest to the line of scrimmage, and fits his range of comfort. He sometimes forces 5 yard passes to him in double, and triple coverage.

    Moore gets a C+, its not his fault, the browns haven’t better utalized his skill set. After half assing on a pass, much hasn’t been seen of him. I’m thinking that will change. He has 2 TD’s in 4 games. He just needs to be more physical at the point of attack,

    Smith gets a C based on how the Browns utilize him, he has caught the ball well, is physical at the point of attack, blocks well, can play a bigger role, but isn’t whats needed, or required from him.

    I’d like to see the Browns scrap the FB, I’ve seen enough of Marecic. I would rather the browns play to their strengths, go 2 TE, as New England does. Run your WR’s off of the TE’s. If you’ve watched New England at all, they work it to perfection. It gives the browns an opportunity to get matchup advantages, at their position of strength. Green Bay does it well also.

    McCoy has to be quicker in reading the routes, coverage, and throwng the ball, leading WR;s to open areas. He often follows guys across the defense, delivering the ball right into contact.

    How long do the Browns allow McCoy to develop? West Coast offense begins with the QB? I say Wallace would have more success, be more productive with this group, in an offense he seems more comfortable with, and has a better understanding of. Its not about long term answer, thats unknown, but I think he would elevate the play of others, much as he did, when he stepped in for Delhomme, last season.

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