It’s been decades since the Cleveland Browns have had a 4-1 record to start off the season. The last time it happened, the Baltimore Ravens didn’t exist and Bill Bellichik was still the Browns’ head coach. That’s how long Browns fans have craved good football and quality wins.
Crave no more, as this Browns team is poised to make an impact this season, and in this edition of Right, Wrong, and WTF, we’re going to dive into another good offensive performance that had a few — but fixable — hiccups, and a defense that, again, stepped up when it needed to.
What Went Right
For a second straight week, the Browns offense looked as great on the field as it does on paper. The passing game was great in the first half of the game while the rushing attack took a minor back seat. After rushing for 300+ yards last week, the Browns came out throwing the football with a good amount of aggressiveness and success, which is great for instilling confidence in your team, especially in Baker Mayfield.
I’ve said it before, but the Indianapolis Colts came into the game with the No. 1-ranked defense in the league and the Browns offense bullied them through the air while the offensive line matched up relatively well against a great Colts defensive line. If you read the review for this game, then you know how I said the Browns needed to protect Mayfield in the pocket, and aside from a few plays, the offensive line did exactly that. Not only did they keep drives alive by converting third downs, the line gave Mayfield time to survey the field and throw darts to multiple receivers all across the field, scoring two more passing touchdowns to bring his season total up to nine.
Now the defense stepped up this week, and if you read my preview earlier this week, then you’ll know that I preached third-down defense was key to beating this Colts offense. A weak secondary became weaker with Karl Joseph unable to play, but the rest of the defense stepped up. Every team preaches the “next man up” mentality, and the Browns did just that with the likes of Sheldrick Redwine and Ronnie Harrison both notching interceptions and Harrison returning one for a score. Not only that, Myles Garrett continues his run towards being the defensive player of the year with four quarterback hits, a sack, and a safety, helping contain the Colts running game.
Not all went right though for this Browns team, and with all good things, there is almost always some bad…
What Went Wrong
Special teams… what the hell, guys? Letting a rookie go for 101 yards is literally the worst possible thing to happen on a return, and it did, with some missed tackles, to boot.
No game ball for them this week. Sorry, Mr. Double Doink; not even you could help.
I’ll mention it here as well, but the Browns did not win the turnover battle. Both teams turned the ball over twice and the Browns, luckily, capitalized better on those turnovers than the Colts, but it is still unacceptable. Also, second-half adjustments were few and far between. The Browns did not adjust as well as the Colts in the second half, and it showed. Multiple pressures allowed by the offensive line disrupted the rhythm of Baker Mayfield and caused mistakes. Two mistakes, specifically, being the interceptions thrown by Mayfield; which is a real shame because he had gone three straight weeks without a turnover and then had two in one game to “make up” for it.
I don’t know if it was the play calling, or the Colts defense putting more pressure on Mayfield, but it’s not what you want to see, especially the week before the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have an offense that can really punish them if Mayfield turns it over too many times. Now, this isn’t a slight on the team, but Browns right guard Wyatt Teller went down early with a hamstring injury and was out for the rest of the game.
Looming next week is the Steelers, who have a ridiculous defense in their own right, so if Teller is out next Sunday, that is going to hurt this team badly. Also, Greedy Williams was placed on injured reserve, which doesn’t help a secondary that needs all the assistance it can get. Luckily, Joseph should be back at free safety next week, so that will give them some extra help.
Now, what you have all been waiting for…
Now, I said in my previous Right, Wrong, and WTF that it’s the month of October and hosts Halloween, and the Browns had some tricks last week that they used to beat the Dallas Cowboys. This week, they pulled from their bag of tricks again and called a trick play that gave Odell Beckham, Jr. the chance to throw a pass and connect with Austin Hooper for a first down. It wasn’t as spectacular as the touchdown throw last week, but it was a great play nonetheless, and as a personal fan of trick plays in all shapes and sizes, I hope this trend continues every game for the rest of the year. Another WTF: when did Kareem Hunt become a good receiver?! I know he was a decent receiving back last season and with in Kansas City, but his end zone catch was a thing of beauty and it’s a great thing knowing that he’s signed with the team for the next few years.
Right now, the AFC North might be the best division in the NFL, seeing as the Steelers are 4-0 and the Ravens are tied with the Browns at 4-1 with Baltimore owning the tiebreaker.
Crazy how it seems like each game has higher and higher stakes, but that’s how the schedule is looking right now. A win against the Steelers in Week 6 will give the Browns a leg up on the division, especially if the Ravens lose in Philadelphia, and the Browns continue adding to their resume of being playoff contenders.
(Featured Image Credit: ClevelandBrowns.com)