Dropped passes and lack of execution were just some of the problems that resulted in a 16-6 loss to the Raiders on Sunday.
The Cleveland Browns had an opportunity to head into their bye-week with a 6-2 record. Instead, they’ll get to deal with two-weeks of a bad taste in their mouths. I’m going to go into a couple different topics, so let’s begin.
OFFENSE- The offense looked just as bad as it did when they went to Baltimore and Pittsburgh. The offense had no flow, there were dropped passes and the offensive line had more problems than usual. This was left tackle Jedrick Wills’ worst game as a Brown. He was penalized multiple times. Now, that being said, for a guy switching from right to left, he’s doing really good. I can’t complain about him. As long as these types of games aren’t consistent for him, I’m really happy with the job he’s doing.
I am not going to be that guy that blames this loss all on quarterback Baker Mayfield. I don’t believe Mayfield had a horrible game. This was truly a team loss. While Baker only went 12-25 for 122 yards, he didn’t throw any interceptions and, to credit the offensive line, he wasn’t sacked. While Mayfield missed on some throws, the wind wasn’t helping and his receivers weren’t much help either.
Despite how good running back Kareen Hunt is, there is a difference between Hunt and Nick Chubb, at least in my eyes. I think Hunt is really good, as long as he isn’t the main back. Also, I have to keep in mind that Hunt is dealing with a groin injury and those aren’t fun.
With the offensive line not playing at their usual high level, dropped passes and not having the ball long enough to get into any rhythm, the offense looked terrible from start to finish.
DEFENSE- A lack of play makers on the defensive side of the ball continues to show its ugly head. Defensive end Myles Garrett and cornerback Denzel Ward are the only two standouts on defense. Garrett was dealing with an ankle injury and later knee injury. His MRI came back negative, so he’ll be back after the bye-week when Cleveland hosts Houston.
I’ve been telling people that, unless the Browns make a trade or two to improve their secondary and the linebackers, this defense is going to continue to be a mess, give up lots of points and yards. Las Vegas gained a total of 309 yards and what’s worse? How about Cleveland giving up 208 yards on the ground! The Browns had the 5th ranked run defense in the NFL and you wouldn’t have known that by watching yesterday’s game. Raiders running back Josh Jacobs rushed for 128 yards on 31 carries. That’s not good.
Cleveland’s only bright spot was, believe it or not, Olivier Vernon. Having been missing since he came to Cleveland, Vernon had two sacks.
Tackling was another problem. Too many times, the Browns could’ve had a lot of tackles for losses yesterday. That’s one of the reasons the Raiders were able to keep running ball. Cleveland couldn’t tackle.
DAVID NJOKU- Whether tight end David Njoku really does want out of Cleveland or not, I don’t know, but is it just me or does Njoku look completely disinterested in playing right now? Taking you back to last Sunday in Cincinnati, after Njoku caught the touchdown pass, he didn’t do much for celebrating and just sat on the bench with no emotion. Now, yesterday, after Njoku dropped that easy pass from Baker, again, no emotion. I’m not saying he has to show emotion all the time, but in past seasons, when he wanted to be here, you could tell in his body language that he was having fun and wanted to be here. Now, not so much. When Cleveland can get someone or something valuable for him, I’d go for it. I’ll also mentioned that he doesn’t fit in this current system of head coach Kevin Stefanski. He doesn’t want to block and it shows. He’s also not a great pass catcher CONSISTENTLY.
FINALS THOUGHTS- I’m really hoping that both Nick Chubb and right guard Wyatt Teller will be ready to come back after the bye-week. Do I think those two missing is the reason for the losses to the Steelers and Raiders? No, this team has to be able to play better regardless. Other teams in the NFL have to do the same thing. This is why it’s so important to have quality in your depth-chart. With that being said, there is a reason why backups are backups, and at some point, some of those players probably shouldn’t even be on the roster.
A couple of things are going to happen during the off-week. This team is either going to make a trade or two that will improve the defense or fans are going to have to accept how bad this defense is and that it’s going to cost Cleveland some games. This is what you get with a defense that’s this bad.
The Browns will have two weeks before they host the Texans and the bye-week came at a good time. Cleveland needs to get healthy and the players need to recharge their engines for the stretch run.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Nick Broulis