The 2021 season hasn’t exactly gone according to plan for the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns are currently sitting at 6-6 and after Pittsburgh’s surprise win against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, Cleveland now sits in last place in the AFC North.
Having said that, they’re still in the playoff hunt for the division as well as the Wild Card, but they need to get things turned around.
In a season full of disappointment thus far, many people are wondering which side of the ball has underperformed the most: the offense or the defense.
Cleveland was coming off of a season where they had one of the most potent offenses in their recent history.
Things seemed to be clicking between Baker Mayfield and the rest of the offense, similar to what we saw in Baker’s rookie season.
New head coach, Kevin Stefanski, seemed to be able to say and do whatever it took to get his team to play for him.
Most importantly, however, Baker Mayfield was looking sharp.
He was making the plays that he needed to make, was hitting his receivers, and looked to be the number one overall pick and franchise quarterback that fans have been dreaming of.
2021 has been a whole other story, unfortunately.
Baker seems to have reverted to his sophomore season where he threw for nearly as many interceptions as touchdowns.
He’s not hitting open targets, hasn’t been able to make big plays, and simply doesn’t look like a franchise quarterback.
Sure, he’s banged up and is dealing with a multitude of nagging injuries, but that doesn’t excuse his poor play.
Cleveland’s overall offense ranks 18th in the league in yards per game, 19th in points per game, and 24th in passing yards.
Baker Mayfield = Actually bad. pic.twitter.com/VS3too3s93
— Jeff Collins (@frontdeskjeff) November 21, 2021
Not exactly the group of quarterbacks that you want to be associated with.
The offense has been saved largely by the running game led by Kareem Hunt, Nick Chubb, and D’Ernest Johnson.
Despite Hunt and Chubb struggling with Covid and injuries throughout the year, the Browns are tied for the third-best rushing offense in the league.
No matter how good the running game is, however, Cleveland won’t be able to return to the playoffs unless Baker and the passing game can step up.
— Orange and Brown Rpt (@TheOBR) November 29, 2021
While the defense has had its fair share of struggles and issues, they have improved as the season has progressed.
The offense, on the other hand, seems to be digressing.
Since giving up 37 points to the Cardinals in Week 6, the Browns haven’t surrendered more than 16 points to an opponent save for the 45 they gave up to the New England Patriots.
They still have the occasional blown coverage, but are playing infinitely better than they were at the start of the season.
Overall, the offense has been much more disappointing than the defense.
Cleveland came into the season with questions at defense, but what was supposed to be a solid offense led by Baker and his running backs.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the way things have gone.
They’ve been in a number of games where the defense has given them a great chance to win, but the offense simply couldn’t find a way to score.
While both sides of the ball have struggled at times, the offense has been a bigger disappointment than the defense.