Few teams could expect a seamless transition when they lose a player of Nick Chubb’s caliber.
But fans expected better after the Cleveland Browns spent the offseason hinting at a new, wide-open passing game.
Deshaun Watson would be healthy with a full slate of speedy and sure-handed receivers.
But as Fox Sports Greg Auman pointed out recently, there is nothing explosive about the Browns’ offense.
Panthers' passing game has generated just nine pass plays of 20+ yards — only the Browns (7) and Bengals (5) have fewer this season. Ex-Carolina WR D.J. Moore had five for the Bears (20, 56, 58, 39, 32) just this past week.
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) October 10, 2023
Cleveland enters Week 6 with only 7 pass plays of 20 or more yards, the second-fewest in the NFL.
Watson missed the Browns’ game against Baltimore and an early bye week leaves the Browns a game shy.
But Auman points out that Chicago’s D.J. Moore caught 5 passes of 20+ yards in one game Sunday.
And before that game, Bears fans debated if they should move on from their third-year quarterback, Justin Fields.
Why Can’t The Offense Move?
Cleveland’s offensive line is still adapting to Deshaun Watson’s time-consuming, play-extending habits.
Injuries complicate matters further, but the line’s woes don’t completely explain the lack of deep connections.
Cleveland comes off the bye week with the third-worst passing attack in the NFL.
Amari Cooper has 18 catches on 31 targets, a pedestrian 58% catch rate.
— Fred Greetham (@FredGreetham9) July 25, 2023
Operating much closer to the line of scrimmage, Elijah Moore isn’t much better with 17 catches on 29 targets.
Watson has connected on some beautiful sideline rainbows to Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones.
But just as often, the Browns’ franchise quarterback is off the mark to his wide receivers.
An injured shoulder won’t help, but even if P.J. Walker starts Sunday, Cleveland needs to get more vertical.