It’s been a long time since the Cleveland Browns have won three straight games so early in the year. A great 3-1 record after a 49-38 destruction (score doesn’t reflect that destruction), and quite possibly the offensive performance everyone has waited for from Cleveland for the past two years. Unfortunately with everything that went right, there were still a few things that went wrong over in JerryWorld, and that will all be discussed in this weeks Right, Wrong, and WTF
What went Right
Basically, everything I suggested the Browns do to win happened, and then happened some more. The Cleveland offense ran the ball 40 times for 307 yards. I said to run the ball and keep the Dallas Cowboys offense on the sidelines for as long as possible, but oh my Lord I don’t think anyone (myself included) expected this run game to go for over 300 yards! The Browns offense not only embarrassed the Cowboys defense, they embarrassed everyone who expected the Cowboys to win by a landslide!
If we’re going to compliment the run for its success, we have to talk about, and thank, all the big guys up front. Jack Conklin and and rookie Jedrick Wills Jr. have improved the tackle spots immensely from last season. Wyatt Teller individually received a 94.9 run-blocking grade by PFF (PFF’s formula for offensive lineman is pretty dang good) which is the highest grade they have given for run-blocking in the last six years! Overall, the entire offensive line was great at keeping the rushing attack going, and keeping pressure away from Baker Mayfield, allowing him time to throw.
To compliment the aforementioned run game, they used a plethora of play-action and kept Mayfield safe in the pocket to allow him time for those throws. Against the Cowboys defense, Mayfield had two touchdown passes and no turnovers- which is great to see from your franchise quarterback (hopefully). Mayfield had 165 pass yards to go along with those two scores, but when your rushing attack is so dominant, you don’t need to pass for a ton of yards, and a win is a win. There were two other plays that were eye popping, but we’ll talk about those later.
The defense played well for most of the game and forced three turnovers, two of which turned into points, with the game winning interception as icing on the cake. Denzel Ward being back on the field is encouraging and Myles Garrett is living up to his contract thus far. Andrew Sendejo finally had a positive play, but that is where the good of the defense really ends, and we start going into…
What went Wrong
The Browns safety tandem could be worse… but not by much. I just complimented him on his forced fumble, but I question every game why and how Andrew Sendejo still has his starting position. That one positive play doesn’t make up for his poor coverage skills and mediocre tackling. Karl Joseph isn’t great either, and most Browns fans will readily admit that either a trade for a better safety or drafting one early this year is a priority.
The defense overall played well in the second and third quarters, allowing zero points and keeping pressure on Dak Prescott and company. However 14 points in the first quarter, one touchdown allowed on a blown coverage and the second touchdown being more luck than anything else stand out. If they can improve upon what they did to stop the Cowboys offense, then there won’t be a need to score 49 points every week.
Now there’s Nick Chubb. Runner up for the rushing title last year, who is now on Injured Reserve for a few weeks (as a Chubb fantasy owner, this hurts even more). The silver lining is that the Browns still have Kareem Hunt in the backfield, but losing Chubb hurts for the next few weeks. Hunt is the better pass catcher, but I argue that as a pure runner, Chubb is close to, if not already at the number one spot in the NFL, so no matter what the offense has lost a big piece to its two-headed rushing attack.
Then we have the fourth quarter. Being up 41-13, I understand prevent defense and running the clock out on offense, but this is Dak Prescott. The man thrives in the fourth quarter and it showed. Prescott marched down the field on multiple scoring drives and made three, two-point conversions. That is unacceptable and allowed the Cowboys to *almost* have another comeback win and the Browns rival the Atlanta Falcons for the worst single game choke in recent memory. Luckily, that did not happen, but it is still a concern.
Another concern is Baker Mayfield himself. I complimented him for how he managed the game and had no turnovers, but nonetheless, he made multiple bad throws, including a few misses to wide open receivers from a clean pocket. It’s only four games into the season, but for a franchise quarterback, that’s not ideal. I can’t complain too much when it’s a win though, so now onto…
This is the month of October, which includes the holiday known as Halloween. Trick or treats, and oh boy did the Browns have some tricks up their sleeves this week. The Browns ran a wonderful trick-play where Jarvis Landry threw a dime to Odell Beckham Jr. for a 37-yard touchdown which were the first points scored in the game. The final score of the game was slick, as OBJ took an end around to the house on a 50-yard run that sealed the game for the Browns. Another WTF is the Browns offense, which previously mentioned, exploded and shocked everyone with 49 points. If they keep this up, there’s no doubt they make the playoffs.
Before playoff hopes grow, they have to face the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday. The Colts are the toughest challenge facing the Browns since week one in Baltimore, and if they pull out a win, it will go a long way to establish this team as a legitimate contender.