Cleveland Browns wide receiver Davone Bess was known as one of the most reliable slot receivers in the league during his time with the Miami Dolphins, but he went from being a reliability to an outright liability this year in his first season with the Cleveland Browns. It almost seemed like Bess was cursed due to his new team, because he inexplicably turned into a shell of his former self. The zenith of his poor play came last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, in which he was one of the main reasons why the Browns were unable to upset the still-undefeated squad. Bess’s struggles were well-documented in this post I wrote on him last week, as he dropped three passes and fumbled away a punt.
It wasn’t just one game, either, as Bess had consistently played poorly throughout the year. He had ten drops through the first eight weeks, including a streak of three straight games in which he dropped the first pass thrown at him. Before last week’s game against the Chiefs, Bess vowed before the game that he would cut down on the drops, but the drops didn’t just persist; they increased in that game.
Atonement. The word is such a beautiful one, and Bess must have been feeling pure elation (and probably some relief) when he walked off the field following yesterday’s victory over the rival Baltimore Ravens. Not only did Bess manage to avoid dropping any passes, but he also had two touchdowns catches. On the first one, Bess was able to hang onto the TD following a hard hit, and that alone constitutes a huge victory for him. His second TD reception was even better than the first, because he juked elite Ravens CB Lardarius Webb to the point where he “broke” the corner before heading off to the end zone.
Bess didn’t put up huge numbers, but he did his job. He caught three of the four passes thrown at him, and he banked two of those receptions for points on the board. For the first time since the beginning of the season, Bess legitimately played a good game, and he’s well on his way to building back his reputation as a quality, reliable wide receiver in this league.
Through the first eight weeks, Bess caught just 50% of all passes thrown at him, and the passes he did catch went for an average of under ten yards per reception. His stats were simply awful, and he wasn’t doing anything well. It remains to be seen if Bess has really gotten out of his funk, but I think he had a real day of atonement in yesterday’s win against the Browns. He even earned some thanks from Browns owner Jimmy Haslam following the game, and he will continue to receive praise if he can keep putting together solid games like he used to back with the Dolphins. Bess has never been close to a great receiver, but the one thing you could always count on with Bess was the fact that he would give you consistently solid outings. That changed this season, but he should be able to build on this game and resume a productive career.
One thing that you can give credit to Bess throughout the season is the fact that he’s always been accountable about his drops. He’s tried as hard as possible to stop them, and he’s also taken full accountability. While there was nobody to blame but himself, it was still very refreshing to see Bess take the honest route and not BS any excuses; that’s what made yesterday’s two TDs all the more sweet to see.