The Cleveland Browns looked like a team that has had six weeks together against Baltimore in the opener. Baltimore looked like a team running the same system under coach John Harbaugh for 13 years. That was the big difference in yesterday’s season opener. As we take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly (the score?), the Browns must move past this quickly and get ready to play Thursday against the Bengals.
Finding some good in yesterday’s rout was hard but not impossible. In the first half of the game, even with the first drive’s interception, the Browns showed signs of a disciplined football team. They had no penalties in the first quarter. The offensive line looked solid overall.
The offensive scheme had some good plays like the end-zone throw from Baker Mayfield to a wide-open David Njoku. Jarvis Landry did his thing and continued to be a steady force for the Browns with catching five out of six targets. Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb combined to provide 132 yards on 23 combined carries. In an entirely new system with only six weeks to prepare, the Browns had eight penalties for 80 yards compared to the Ravens seven for 66.
While the overall game was definitely in favor of the Ravens the Browns did show some signs that this offense has a chance to get better in the coming weeks.
The defense. Period. No matter what coach Stefanski says about putting the defense in bad positions all game, and they did, this defense had no answer for the Ravens. They looked slow to the ball and could not cover anyone for any length of time.
The Browns offense actually held the ball for 30:02 compared to 29:58 for the Ravens, so it was not about being overworked or any other excuse. They are not a good defense right now, and it was exploited in every way by the Ravens. Pin the Ravens back on the one they go 99 yards for a touchdown. Miss the field goal, give up 69 yards in seven plays, and let Mark Andrews grab a second touchdown catch before the half. The Ravens offense was firing on all cylinders and the Browns defense was lost, 38 points given up was the result.
Baker to OBJ
Baker Mayfield to Odell Beckham Jr. was back to the same old habits. Dropped passes, off-target throws, forced throws, etc. All of them reared their ugly head again Sunday. OBJ was targeted ten times and caught three passes for 22 yards. That is not good enough. Baker was not good Sunday by any stretch. Is it the OBJ effect? Does Baker still feel the necessity to force the ball to him? Or did Stefanski scheme up all those throws? We may never know, but this team better clean that up quickly if they expect to win at all this year.
The tight ends?
It was not the play of the tight ends that is concerning but the lack of use in the passing game. After all the hype surrounding this unit, the Browns targeted the group eight times Sunday. The result was six catches for 70 yards and a touchdown. David Njoku led the way with three catches for 50 yards and the only touchdown of the day. Austin Hooper was given $44 million for a reason, right? Was this a failure of the coaching staff or Baker not using his weapons as directed?
This is just getting listed off as it was an ugly game all around.
- Baker tipped three times by Calais Campbell, with one turning into a pick.
- A fake punt that ended about as bad as it could with the punter Jamie Gillian coughing up the ball to the Ravens
- Andrew Sendejo was beaten all day in the secondary and on the punt fake. Not a good day for the vet.
- Nick Chubb fumbling trying to get extra yards
- Everyone not named Larry Ogunjobi on defense
- The Cleveland Browns needed to get out to a fast start, and they looked slow to react all day on both sides.
- Getting into a third and 41
- Leaving the middle of the field open all day long
As you can see this team is still a major work in progress. The progress needs to come quickly if the Browns are to rebound Thursday against the Bengals.
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