The Cleveland Browns were extremely and unsurpsingly disappointing in their 38-6 blowout loss to the Balitmore Ravens.
The Cleveland Browns losing in Week 1 was expected, losing big was also expected. However, losing big and the team being a failure in all three phases of the game combined with the coaching staff looking like every other Browns coaching staff since 1999 was not expected.
What was Kevin Stefanski doing?
This is a very good question. Who the hell knows? Let’s start with the offense. Offensively they passed twice as many times as they should have and did not run the ball enough. Even when the game was still relatively competitive Stefanski kept having Baker Mayfield drop back and pass the ball when the Browns probably have the most talented backfield in the league. Nick Chubb only had 10 carries in the game while Kareem Hunt had 13. Baker Mayfield had 39 pass attempts including 19 at the half. Stefanski completely botched the game plan for Week 1 and was not impressive at all.
What was expected offensively is not what happened on Sunday. The Browns were running a lot of plays that looked a lot like what they ran under Freddie Kitchens last season. The hope here is that this is a one-off occurrence and not what Stefanski plans to run all season long. The fact of the matter is that the Browns should be a team that is running the football and not passing. One would think that an organization filled with Ivy League intelligence would be smart enough to figure that out, apparently not.
The most Browns thing to happen yesterday was the fake punt in the 1st quarter. 4th and 4 on their own 31 Cleveland opts for the fake as they lined up in punt formation for the first time this season, THE FIRST TIME! There was absolutely no reason to run a fake punt in this situation. The Browns got lucky by managing to stop the Ravens and holding them to a field goal as their lead could have easily grown to 14.
Baker Mayfield looked really bad
Baker Mayfield still showed all of the negative aspects of his play from last season on Sunday. Mayfield is not able to read a defense and misses defenders all the time. Combine this with his happy feet in the pocket and it was an overall poor performance from the third year quarterback. There were even a few instances where Baltimore should have intercepted more than just one of his passes, so he should feel lucky he only threw one interception. What we saw on Sunday was just more of the same of why there are doubts that he is a franchise quarterback. The further away we get from the eight games in 2018 the more it looks like a ton of luck went his way and was a complete fluke. The Browns better be prepared to pull the plug on Baker Mayfield when the time comes.
Odell Beckham Jr. was physically on the field, was he there mentally?
Was there anyone who looked less engaged Sunday than Odell Beckham Jr.? Beckham looked checked out for the majority of the game and really did not look like he wanted to be there.
Let’s talk about on field performance. Beckham had the one drop which many people seem to focus on, but that one play was far from the difference maker in the final score. There was a stretch where Baker Mayfield was trying to force feed Beckham in the second half and obviously that did not work. Maybe if Mayfield was a better quarterback it might have worked, but that is not the case. This was about as low as it can get for Beckham, then again he does play for the Browns and things can only always get worse.
The Cleveland Browns defense was atrocious, the fact they managed to recover a fumble and sack Lamar Jackson twice was nothing short of a miracle. Poor performance combined with a complete mishandling of the defensive side of the ball by the front office is to blame here. The team completely punted on any legitimate or long term solutions on defense in free agency and let their two best linebackers go in the offseason. Add in the injuries and a really thin defense got even thinner.
Short turnaround does not bode well
Cleveland is somehow going to have to do a complete 180 as they play again on Thursday. The Browns could very easily be 0-2 by the end of Thursday and high expectations that some people once had can be thrown in the garbage.