The Cleveland Browns falling to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday came as a surprise to many.
Cleveland entered as one point favorites on the road but couldn’t muster one final game-winning drive to secure the win.
There’s blame to go all around the Browns’ locker room after this one, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
The offense did enough to win.
However, they weren’t mistake-free either.
Let’s take a look at some of the studs and duds from Sunday’s loss in Atlanta.
Dud: Kevin Stefanski
Hindsight is always 20/20.
So it’s easy to see how Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski would look like a genius if Cleveland scored a touchdown on 4th and three from the Atlanta four-yard line.
Only, they didn’t score.
Jacoby Brissett threw the ball away after finding no one open and Cleveland came up empty on a strong opening drive.
What could have been an easy three points turned into nothing.
The Browns went on to lose by three.
Browns beat reporter Tony Grossi reflected the thoughts of many fairly well with this Tweet following the game.
Stefanski said they have to learn from this. I asked him does that mean you’ll kick the field goal next time. ‘I’m not going to be results-based.’ Isn’t it a results business?
— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) October 2, 2022
A pass-heavy offense at the end of the game after Nick Chubb had carved up the Falcons defense all afternoon doesn’t sit well with some either.
Boy not kicking that FG on the opening drive wasn't costly. How about that play selection on the second to last drive when Atlanta couldn't stop the run and #browns started throwing it all over the yard. Not a great day for Kevin Stefanski.
— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) October 2, 2022
To his credit, Stefanski immediately owned up to some of the “questionable” decisions.
Stefanski: "Frustrated that I didn’t put our guys in position to succeed…" Added that this game was nobody's fault "but my own" and that he has to own what happened and learn from it #Browns
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) October 2, 2022
Still, if the Browns continue to lose from mistakes by Stefanski, fans’ patience will grow thin.
Stud: Nick Chubb
Playing in his home state, Nick Chubb had a heck of an afternoon.
With 118 yards rushing and 1 touchdown on 19 carries, Chubb paced Cleveland’s offense throughout the day.
Nick Chubb's 28-yard TD run gives the @Browns the lead!
— NFL (@NFL) October 2, 2022
Again, that early fourth quarter success has some wondering why he didn’t get more touches at the end of the game.
He also found himself wide open on the fourth down attempt on the opening drive.
Brissett just didn’t see him.
If only Jacoby looked to Chubb on that 4th and goal. Float it to him for the TD pic.twitter.com/Z8yfswabic
— Cleveland Wins (@CLEVELAND_WINS) October 2, 2022
With over six-yards per carry on Sunday, Chubb continued to prove why he’s one of the top backs in the league.
Dud: Amari Cooper
Sunday may be one of the quietest games from Amari Cooper we see all season.
Brissett targeted him just four times and completed one of those passes for nine yards.
Credit to the Falcons defense for bottling that up and making it tough on Brissett to find his top receiver.
Amari Cooper, on the heels of back-to-back 100-yard receiving games, had one reception for nine yards as A.J. Terrell shadowed him throughout the game.
— Daniel Flick (@DFlickDraft) October 2, 2022
Cleveland has gotten production outside of Cooper in the receiving department this season.
Still, quiet days like today can’t happen on a consistent basis for the offense to have success.
Studs and Duds: David Njoku and Denzel Ward
While Njoku did lead the team in receiving on Sunday, his fumble in the opening quarter proved costly as the Falcons capitalized for a touchdown.
Still, he continues to be a solid middle of the field target for Brissett.
Denzel Ward found himself involved in a turnover as well.
He intercepted Marcus Mariota midway through the third quarter to set up a Browns field goal.
At the time, it gave them a 13-10 lead.
.@denzelward read it like a book! 📙
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) October 2, 2022
However, he did have a costly face mask penalty that helped set up Atlanta’s go-ahead field goal on their final drive of the game.
A better week in coverage should certainly be noted for Ward, however, as him and the secondary have had a tough start to his 2022 season.
Stud: Jordan Elliott
The Browns needed a good performance from Jordan Elliott with Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney out with injuries.
He delivered, recording his first career sack along with three tackles, one for loss, and a quarterback pressure.
— Roberto Shenanigans (@Rob_Shenanigans) October 2, 2022
Stud: Grant Delpit
Grant Delpit deserves a little love for his effort on Sunday, particularly in the first half.
He came up with a pair of pass deflections, one of which saved a touchdown.
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) October 2, 2022
Grant Delpit closed quickly to break up a pass in the end zone on third-and-goal.
Falcons kick the FG and take a 3-0 lead.
— Anthony Poisal (@AnthonyPoisal) October 2, 2022
He still has much to prove to win some fans over, but it’s good to see him take a step forward.