All of the sudden, the Cleveland Browns have a blue print for success. That and so much more to talk about here on the Broulis Beat Report.
In week one of the NFL season, the Browns looked out of sync, out coached and quite frankly, out everything. The talent is there, but everyone could tell this team hasn’t been together long. They had no clue what they wanted to do on offense and the defense was missing some starters. Let’s fast forward to the 35-30 win over the Cincinnati Bengals this past Thursday night in Cleveland.
The Browns did something that will be the key to their success. Cleveland ran the football. With running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the backfield, the Browns have one of, if not the best combination in the backfield, in the NFL. Chubb carried the ball 22 times for 124 YDS and two TD’s. Before I move onto Kareem Hunt, I have to say that it’s a lot of fun to watch Chubb run the football. Can the Browns do this more often? Now, when Kevin Stefanski wants to give Chubb a break, he can give the carries to Hunt. Against the Bengals, Hunt rushed for 86 YDS and a touchdown. What a great one two punch to have. In total, Cleveland rushed for 215 yards. That stat right there, is what will help the Browns win games.
Now when you rush for great yardage, you have to give the offensive line credit. There were a lot of people wondering how much more improved the O-line would be after they drafted Jedrick Wills Jr., and signed Jack Conklin in free-agency. So far, Cleveland is doing good in run blocking. That is to be expected considering that is what Conklin is best at and what Wills Jr was best known for in college. Cleveland had their running game going early on in Baltimore, but abandoned it after falling behind. Against the Bengals, they were able to get out to a lead early. When that happens, great things usually happen. If the Browns are going to have success this year, that offensive line is going to have to keep doing what it’s doing and continue to improve. The bread and butter of this team is its O-line and running game.
The big problem right now is how bad this defense is behind the defensive line. Myles Garrett, Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi had good games against Cincinnati. Garrett had a big strip of quarterback Joe Burrow. Porter Gustin has been showing some signs of being a solid pickup. Behind those individuals, the linebackers are just not that good. The secondary has been ok, but injuries have really hurt this defense.
Speaking of defense, a great sign from Berea this week, was the return of cornerbacks Kevin Johnson (Lacerated liver) and Greedy Williams (Shoulder). While neither is heading to the pro-bowl, they will be welcomed back with open arms. This gives the Browns more options for starters and gives Cleveland depth it so desperately needs in their secondary. Terrence Mitchell has been playing in Williams place and has always played very solid for Cleveland. At linebacker, Mack Wilson, who originally thought his season was over after hyperextending his knee during training camp after a horse collar tackle on RB Nick Chubb, was back at practice as well. From what I’m reading, it sounds like all three will be ready to play. I know that defensive coordinator Joe Woods is a very happy man right now.
As I mentioned earlier, Cleveland didn’t look ready in week one. In week two, the Browns looked more focused and prepared. It’s almost like head coach Kevin Stefanski needed a week to figure it out. I’m not saying he’s completely ready to go and this team will always look great, but the whole team looked like they were very prepared and, get this, very disciplined. Less than 10 penalties. That’s not perfect, but considering how new everyone is to one another, a brand-new offense and really no off-season, that’s pretty good.
In week three, I’d like to see Cleveland get their penalties down to five. Next, can the Browns defense limit Washington to less than 20 points? Let’s keep this rushing attack going and see if this will open up a big play from Baker Mayfield to Odell Beckham Jr. again for a second straight week.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Nick Broulis