In an off-season filled with headline-snatching acquisitions and bold predictions, the Cleveland Browns now find themselves in a predicament unforeseen just a few months back.
Coming off an embarrassing 31-3 loss against the San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland’s season is at a pivotal juncture with Seattle and New England knocking on their front door.
It’s impossible to point the blame at anyone or anything in particular when analyzing Cleveland’s slow start to the 2019 season.
While there is fair blame to go around, naturally, the brunt will be shouldered by second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Mayfield’s QBR ranks only ahead of the injured Cam Newton and New York Jets backup Luke Falk.
Baker Mayfield 2018 vs. 2019:
Completion %: 63.8, 55.9
TDs: 24, 4
INTs: 14, 8
Passer Rating: 93.7, 68.5
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) October 8, 2019
It wouldn’t be fair to pile on Mayfield’s struggles without highlighting the offensive lines woes.
The unit is currently ranked No. 19 in pass block, leading to 16 sacks and pressure on 37.4 percent of Mayfield’s dropbacks.
Cleveland will struggle on offense if the offensive line doesn’t tighten up.
The Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots are the next two opponents for Cleveland. Should the Browns fall to 2-5, post-season probabilities would be holding on by a thread.
Seattle and New England are respectively the No. 14 and No. 1 ranked total defenses in the league, according to NFL.com.
Head coach Freddie Kitchens, while agreeing with Landry, is more focused on winning a football game.
“I do not really have any thoughts,” Kitchens said. “I think we need to intentionally get him the ball, too. I think we need to intentionally win a game.”
“They are free to say whatever they want to say. I do not monitor them – monitor is not the right word. I do not put restrictions on what they say. Our only rule is do not hurt the team. I do not think that hurt the team. I would agree with him.”
"I think we need to intentionally win a game" – Freddie Kitchens on WR Jarvis Landry saying they need to "intentionally" get OBJ the ball. Said he doesn't monitor what his players say as long as they don't hurt the team, that didn't hurt the team b/c he agrees #Browns
— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) October 11, 2019
It will be imperative for the Browns to rely on their stout defense to lead the team to victory.
The Browns will have their top corners Greedy Williams and Denzel Ward back from injury — a massive boost to the secondary.
With a concentration on improving the pass protection, a focus on getting Beckham Jr. involved, and a healthy defense, Cleveland has a roadmap to navigate a pivotal moment in their season.