Remember when the only concern in the Cleveland Browns locker room was whether or not players supported OBJ or Baker?
Those were good times compared to the more subtle and whiny whisperings emerging from Berea this week.
One could argue it is a positive statement that some fans and players believe they should have beaten the Buffalo Bills.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3) at Cleveland Browns
Over/Under 44 @betonline_ag
— Dave Chudowsky (@DaveChudowsky) November 21, 2022
Folks outside the Greater Cleveland Area wrote that contest off five minutes after the 2022 schedule came out.
But higher expectations can’t cover the tone coming out of Berea; one that reflects a lost season.
And even the most diehard fan has to wonder, “Do the Browns have a chance against the Buccaneers this week?
Tampa Bay Brings a Legend
Despite Tampa Bay’s top-5 defense and a deep roster on offense, all comparisons come down to the quarterbacks.
And the Bucs have the legend, Tom Brady, set to face a journeyman place keeper in Jacoby Brissett.
The best thing about facing Brady is he gives Browns fans hope about how Deshaun Watson will adapt to life on the Browns.
Tom Brady's streak of consecutive passes without an interception ends at 399, was just shy of the mark of 402.pic.twitter.com/d0j509SrJn
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) November 13, 2022
He may have lost a little something, but he is still one of the quarterbacks you don’t want to face in crunch time.
Tampa Bay has quietly put up a top-6 passing offense despite some negative press about their aging quarterback.
QBR and ratings aside, football intelligence and muscle memory make Brady one of the scariest opposing QBs on the schedule.
Cleveland Brings The Journeyman
Jacoby Brissett is putting up some good numbers as he negotiates his way through the Pre-Watson schedule.
But his failures in crunch time remind us why he has not found a permanent starting home.
Whether it is a last-minute interception, a sack, or a pass to a phantom receiver, post-game headshakes are inevitable.
Jacoby Brissett is 6th in the NFL in QBR.
Nick Chubb is 4th in the NFL in rush yards.
Amari Cooper is 4th in the NFL in receiving TDs.
All a testament to the job Kevin Stefanski has done with the offense.
Unfortunately, it takes more than that to win football games. #Browns
— Hayden Grove (@H_Grove) November 21, 2022
Stephon Diggs’ half-ending touchdown might have sparked the Bills this past weekend.
But it was Brissett’s drive-killing fumble earlier in the game that changed the offensive tone of an upset-in-the-making.
And Browns fans can’t be confident if the Bucs game comes down to which passer makes a big play.
Outclassed Across The Roster
Cleveland can boast the better running game, even after Nick Chubb’s forgettable performance in Detroit.
And if the offensive line is healthy, and that’s a big if, they are one of the best in the league.
But Cleveland’s defense is amazingly suspect, with underpinnings of dissent further hurting their effort.
— Cody Suek (@CodySuek) November 21, 2022
Tampa Bay comes in with the 5th best defense by points versus Cleveland’s 31st-ranked unit.
Browns fans can feel good about how Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones are playing.
But Brady gets to throw to a healthy Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Julio Jones this week.
Can Intangibles Keep It Close?
Tom Brady and the Buccaneers travel to FirstEnergy Field well-rested off a bye week.
They are also in the midst of a division race, currently a half-game ahead of Atlanta.
Meanwhile, Kevin Stefanski and Joe Woods are distracted by comments emerging from their locker room.
— Hayden Grove (@H_Grove) November 20, 2022
But if this is Jacoby Brissett’s last hurrah, perhaps he and the rest of the offense steps things up a bit?
Unfortunately, the Browns’ defense and special teams don’t seem as fond of Brissett as the offense is.
So while there is a reason we play the games, we wouldn’t bet the house on Cleveland this week.