The Cleveland Browns will take on the Washington Football Team at First Energy Stadium in week 3 of the NFL season. Washington stunned the Eagles in week 1, coming back from 17 down to win 27-17. Week 2 Kyle Murray and the Arizona Cardinals came away with a commanding 30-15 win leaving Washington at 1-1.
Washington is in the throes of another rebuild being led by new coach Ron Rivera. Rivera is a great coach, and this team will be prepared to play but will be working through the growing pains of having new people in place and leaning on young players like Dwayne Haskins Jr. and Chase Young.
Establish the run
Head coach Kevin Stefanski used his all-world backfield threat to perfection in week 2 against the Bengals. It looks good when it works as you drew it up. While most of us fans, me included, were begging for a smash-mouth attack from beginning to end, Stefanski called some aggressive roll-outs allowing Baker Mayfield to let it rip. To Mayfield’s credit, he answered the bell and made some great throws.
The Washington defense gave up 160 yards last week to the Arizona Cardinals, and 86 of them came from running back Kenyon Drake. With the pass rushers Washington has on the edge, this might be the week to go to the run game right from the start. Slow the rush with the run game, then freeze it with Mayfield in play-action.
More of this from Baker Mayfield
As much as some media and fans hate it, Baker needs to have the swagger. He needs to be confident in what he sees and let it rip. He will likely make a throw most everyone will criticize like the interception thrown late against the Bengals. That is just what you have to put up with to get performances like this. Combine that swagger and using multiple receivers, and you will get the best version of Mayfield. It is who Mayfield is, so embrace it, Cleveland and enjoy the wild ride it will take you on.
Stop the run
Almost every week this is going to be something that needs to be done. The Browns have been excellent so far and as the secondary gets healthy it will lead to a much better defensive unit.
Washington head coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner have kept the offense balanced in the first two weeks with 64 passing and 59 rushing attempts. Neither has been very effective as they continue with the growing pains of a new offense.
The Browns front should dominate the run game once again, forcing the Washington offense into obvious passing situations. That leads to the next thing needed from this defense.
Pressure, pressure, and more pressure.
The tweet below tells you why.
Washington has given up seven sacks in the first two games. Only the Texans and Eagles have given up more. Keeping defenses out of their quarterback’s face has been an issue. Myles Garrett and whoever else is healthy come game time need to keep this trend up.
While second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. has done a great job protecting the football with zero interceptions so far, it is only a matter of time. Pressure eventually leads to mistakes, and the Browns secondary needs those to help it along right now.
Browns need to keep momentum up
Kevin Stefanski has earned some locker room trust with how this team bounced back from the pitiful showing in Baltimore. To keep that going and earn complete buy-in, he needs to continue being aggressive and using all the tools at his disposal. All right, Cleveland, time to get back on that Browns rollercoaster Sunday at 1 pm est.
I chose to keep this off last week after the showing in Baltimore. In this one I think the Browns run for 150+ again and take it 27-14.
Follow me on Twitter for more great content @WeirdJBronavich.