A lot went wrong in the Cleveland Browns 38-7 loss in Pittsburgh. I didn’t have much to write down during the game and that’s a bad thing.
This column isn’t just over the game this past Sunday.
In their first series on offense, quarterback Baker Mayfield threw an interception to Pittsburgh safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. That was returned for a touchdown and just like that, the Browns are already down 10-0 since the Steelers made a field goal before.
On the road, it’s tough to get down early against a team as good as Pittsburgh is and put up a fight.
Aside from a few sacks on Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, the whole defense was really bad. Pittsburgh did a great job of keeping Roethlisberger upright and clean. Myles Garrett was kept in check for most of the game. The Cleveland defensive line wasn’t able to get much pressure at all.
The Browns didn’t impress me in their run defense either. They allowed the Steelers to rush for 129 yards. James Conner had another good day against Cleveland, rushing for 101 yards and a touchdown.
I already knew that the Browns secondary was going to give up some plays. One of those big plays was to Steelers WR James Washington. He caught a 28-yard pass for a TD and rookie sensation Chase Claypool caught a big 36-yard pass as well.
Cornerback Denzel Ward had a nice pass break up in the endzone, but that was it for the Browns secondary.
The whole offense looked terrible.
Baker Mayfield was sacked four times and was under pressure a lot. This is a combination of Mayfield holding onto the ball too long, not being able to read defenses and a bad showing from the offensive line.
There are times when Mayfield is trying too hard to keep plays alive and holding onto the ball. Baker is going to have to learn that you just have to either run or throw the ball away. Sometimes, there just isn’t a play to be made.
When in comes to reading defenses, I’m talking about pre-snap during the play and post snap. Before the ball is snapped, a quarterback needs to have a great idea of who might and might not be blitzing, who will likely be dropping into coverage and where the safeties are. The QB isn’t always going to guess right, but having a good idea of what will likely happen is preferred. When the play is happening, does he know where to go? It didn’t look like it Sunday.
It just looked like Mayfield was really confused most of the game. This is an area where he can improve.
I’m hearing all the talk about Mayfield not being the guy. How Cleveland should try and trade Baker for another QB or draft picks.
Let’s first remember that this is Baker Mayfield’s third offensive system and head coach in 3 years. That is a lot. Every offense in the NFL is hard to learn, but having to learn 3 in your first 3 years in the league is tough. I do give Baker a pass on that. It’s not me making an excuse, it’s hard learning multiple playbooks.
As I mentioned earlier, Baker has to be better at reading defenses. Someone mentioned on the radio earlier that Mayfield has a better rating against teams that primarily run a 4-3 defense and a lower rating against teams using a 3-4 defense. In a 3-4, it’s tough to know who all is rushing and who all is dropping into coverage. That being said, it’s Baker’s job to learn those defenses and get better at reading them.
I’m definitely not giving up on Mayfield and I’m certainly not trading him away. The Browns will have to figure out by year’s end if they want to pick up Mayfield’s option. Even if they don’t, that doesn’t mean they are drafting a rookie QB in the first round of next years draft. I’m not ready to say whether I think Baker is the guy or not just yet. I know that there are areas where he can improve, but I also know that he has shown at times that he can play at this level.
I don’t want to hear about Mayfield being too short. There are plenty of quarterbacks that are short that are really good. That goes for the past and present.
With how bad Cleveland was beaten on Sunday and how badly the game in Baltimore went, this may be a season where the Browns beat the teams they are expected to be and aren’t ready, at least yet, to compete with the top tier teams just yet. I’m not sure.
I do know that this team has come a long way, even since last season. I do believe that this team is going to get better as the season goes on. Sunday’s loss was another humbling, learning experience. Let’s see how things change come Sunday in Cincinnati.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Nick Broulis