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Going into their week three matchup with the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday Night Football, the Cleveland Browns were already being written off. Add to it a laundry list of injuries, (even to the point that their entire secondary was back ups) and it looked like a near impossible feat. Fans were expecting a blow out.
Instead, Cleveland held their own against Los Angeles. In a game that may become one of the best of the year, it came down to the last play. Cleveland may have lost 20-13 but they put up a fight that nobody was expecting. Here’s how, with the Eye on Browns: Notebook:
1. Cleveland’s offensive plan has not looked the same as last year. Whether because head coach Freddie Kitchens hasn’t been great with situational play calling or he’s chasing plays from offensive coordinator Todd Monken’s playbook, the results are the same. While normal in the NFL, it’s not normal to expect a dynamic change.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield’s success came from quick passes that allowed playmakers to make plays, as well as establishing a run game. This year Mayfield has held onto the ball for too long because of play types. Mayfield was 10 for 12 when he held the ball for less than two seconds. If that’s his strength, build the pass game around that.
2. There’s not enough praise for defensive coordinator Steve Wilks. Despite four back up cornerbacks starting, they created three turnovers on a very potent Rams team (two interceptions and a fumble). The pass rush wasn’t completely there in the game but they did keep running back Todd Gurley limited to under 50 yards. The defense has not been a problem for this team.
3. Last night was proof that the Browns need to open up the run game more. Halfback Nick Chubb had 96 yards against a team that is top 10 in stopping the run. If the Browns are going to have any success at the pass, they need to establish the run game and some of the runs from Chubb proved it.
Looking ahead to next week: Sunday, 1 P.M. @ Baltimore
The Baltimore Ravens were finally challenged in week three against a team with a good defense and just as strong of an offense and they lost. At 2-1, this will be another challenge for Cleveland.
Baltimore’s defense is something that it hasn’t been in a while: middle of the pack. They’re 17th in overall yards given up per game, 27th in passing yards given up but third in rushing yards. Cleveland should try to air it out a bit against the Ravens. They just can’t over do it to the point it becomes predictable.
Baltimore’s offense is the real issue for Cleveland. They’re the best team in the NFL in terms of overall yards per game. Cleveland’s defense for the most part has shut down good run games but quarterback Lamar Jackson will be their biggest challenge.
The match-up predictor gives Cleveland a 27% chance against Baltimore. Cleveland is bound to be underdogs in this game. However, if they play disciplined football, it is a very winnable matchup.