The Cleveland Browns are entering the bye week with much more momentum than they had just a few days ago.
A huge 32-13 thrashing of the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football brings Cleveland to 3-5 and keeps their divisional race hopes alive.
However, there are still things to sort out through the bye week.
The schedule in the second half of the season becomes much tougher with some crucial AFC North games mixed in.
Kevin Stefanski needs to have his guys ready, and this week will be important on working on some lingering issues.
#Browns GM Andrew Berry: Monday night provided a picture of what this team can be. Hopeful it can be nice springboard into second half
— Scott Petrak ct (@ScottPetrak) November 2, 2022
Clean Up Special Teams
Fortunately, one of Cade York’s field goal attempts getting blocked Monday night didn’t burn the Browns.
However, it was York’s second blocked field goal attempt in two weeks.
2nd week in a row with a blocked kick for Cade York
— mk (@MKonSports) November 1, 2022
Bengals do a good job at overloading the left side of the line. But they don't get as much of a push as people think. York needs to get a nice lift under his longer kicks instead of focusing on the line drive. He has another blocked kick. pic.twitter.com/njOesgiVHT
— Grant Delpit Defender (@BrownsAlchemy) November 2, 2022
After York’ game-winning kick in Week One, it didn’t seem like this could become an issue.
Yet, here we are.
York’s accuracy has also wavered at times, hitting just 6 of 10 field goals since the opener.
If Cleveland is serious about winning this season, especially when Watson comes back, special teams will need to be sharp.
Winning the division and/or making the playoffs could very well come down to a made or missed field goal.
York and the field goal unit can’t afford blocked through the later stages of the season.
Win Without Chubb
As we’ve seen, defenses will load the box with eight or more guys to slow down Nick Chubb.
Rightfully so, too, as the league’s leading rusher this season.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) November 2, 2022
Nick Chubb through 8 games:
– 841 rushing yards (1st in NFL)
– 10 rushing TD (1st in NFL)
– 9 rushes of 20+ yards (1st in NFL)
– 27 rushes for 10+ yards (1st in NFL)
– 39 rushes for a 1st down (1st in NFL)
Now on pace 1,781 rushing yards and 21 rushing TD. pic.twitter.com/dq02X6fJ7B
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) November 1, 2022
The offensive woes start to happen once Chubb is taken out of the game plan.
Through the eight games played so far, Cleveland is 3-0 when Chubb carries it 20 or more times.
They are 0-5 if his touches fall under that 20 mark.
There’s obviously more to it than just getting him to 20 carries.
But the point is that when Jacoby Brissett has to go away from turning and handing off to Chubb consistently, he gets into trouble.
It’s led to some untimely turnovers that have cost the Browns a couple games already.
Defenses will continue to hone in on Chubb as the year goes on.
Ideally, getting Deshaun Watson back in the second half of the season will allow the offense to rely more on quarterback play.
Until that point, however, Stefanski has to find a way to adjust a bit better with the offense if teams slow down Chubb.
Develop a Defensive Identity
Monday night’s defensive performance against the Bengals was Cleveland’s best of the season.
They took a hot and rolling Cincinnati offense and made them look uninspired by halftime.
It’s the kind of effort Browns fans have been longing for all season from what is supposed to be a very talented defense.
#Browns GM Andrew Berry on defense: I think we've just played cleaner lately. Mental assignments, communications, our tackling has improved. Give Joe Woods and defensive staff credit for ironing out some of those areas.
— Scott Petrak ct (@ScottPetrak) November 2, 2022
Now the goal is to build on that performance.
It can’t just be a one-and-done type of effort if Cleveland hopes to climb back into the AFC North race.
Andrew Berry made that well-known in his press conference on Wednesday.
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) November 2, 2022
There’s work to do still. One really good performance doesn’t erase the plethora of miscues Cleveland’s defense endured through the previous seven weeks.
However, this is a chance for defensive coordinator Joe Woods to make this a turning point for his defense.
Honorable Mention: Get Healthy
Any team looks to get as healthy as possible during the bye week.
Denzel Ward, Wyatt Teller, and David Njoku all missed Monday’s game with injuries.
Even getting just one of them back after the bye would be massive.
#Browns GM Andrew Berry: "Good to enter the bye week with a big win on Monday night. The bye comes at a good time for us, we're able to get healthy, reflect on the first half. We're fortunate that we have 9 more games."
— 92.3 The Fan (@923TheFan) November 2, 2022
If nothing else, the goal is to just keep moving forward in terms of consistency.
Every NFL team has talent, but the good ones get consistent effort and solid play from their stars.
If Cleveland can figure that out, they’ll be in good shape.