The final two minutes of last Sunday still has Cleveland Browns fans shaking their heads.
Questions will be asked anytime a double-digit lead is blown in that short a period of time.
For the Browns, most of those questions fall on the defensive side of the ball.
Why do these lapses in coverage continue to happen?
Where is the accountability?
Cleveland has a chance to quiet the noise with a quick turnaround Thursday night at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
First-place in the AFC North will be on the line.
For the Browns to take an early-season divisional lead, there are a couple of guys who need to play much better than they did against the Jets.
Plenty of fans are pointing the finger at the coverage breakdowns stemming from poor zone defense by Cleveland’s secondary.
It’s hard to argue that, with Denzel Ward putting together one of his worst Sunday performances in awhile, per Pro Football Focus.
— MoreForYouCleveland (@MoreForYou_CLE) September 19, 2022
The sideline throw from Joe Flacco to Corey Davis sparked the Jets’ comeback on Sunday.
This Twitter clip shows Cleveland’s defense in a zone and the secondary doing a horrendous job of communicating and covering the deep ball.
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) September 18, 2022
On Monday, Ward told the media that the play “wasn’t his coverage”.
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) September 19, 2022
Ward also took exception to PFF’s analysis of him allowing 100 yards through the air on Sunday.
#Browns CB Denzel Ward said he disagrees with PFF's assessment that he gave up 100 yards yesterday. Said he was only targeted once.
— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) September 19, 2022
Some theorize players aren’t happy with what defensive coordinator Joe Woods is dialing up.
Regardless, it’s clear there are major communication issues in Cleveland’s secondary right now.
Grant Delpit is not saying who was playing the wrong coverage, between him and Denzel Ward. Just saying "communication error…" #Browns
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) September 19, 2022
With Pittsburgh’s pedestrian offense, the guy to key in on is Diontae Johnson.
Ward will need to keep him in check to keep the Steelers from getting any momentum offensively.
The last thing they need to do is give Mitch Trubisky and a struggling offense a freebie touchdown.
If Cleveland’s secondary is going to struggle, the guys up front will need to get more pressure.
That all starts with Myles Garrett.
With rookie Max Mitchell starting at right tackle for New York on Sunday, many were thinking this would be the game Garrett broke Browns legend Clay Matthew’s sack record.
That did not happen, with Myles getting to Flacco only once.
Garrett also let his feelings be known regarding the boo’s from the fans at the end of the game.
#Browns Myles Garrett lamented the fact that fans booed at the end of the game, feels the players should be respected, doesn’t want fans giving up on the team this early
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) September 18, 2022
"We don't want to see this crowd, this stadium give up on us this early"
— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) September 18, 2022
With Jadeveon Clowney ruled out for Thursday due to a right ankle injury, Garrett will have to carry the load when it comes to Cleveland’s pass rush.
Every inch, every yard, and especially every point matters in the NFL.
The NFL is also a “what have you done for me lately” league.
Rookie kicker Cade York took a hard lesson in both of those in Sunday’s loss.
His missed extra point following Nick Chubb’s final touchdown run came back to haunt the team.
Should it have come down to that?
That doesn’t mean York doesn’t need to make that kick.
That’s a tough break for a guy who just nailed a 58-yard game-winner to take the season opener.
Thursday could be a tight game considering the rivalry and recent struggles of both sides.
“It will be a game of inches”, as the cliché goes.
It could also come down to who can make their kicks at the end of the game, and York will need to be ready to bounce back.