The Browns entered the 2019 NFL season with big expectations on their shoulders. Their QB; Baker Mayfield dazzled during his rookie season and the Browns GM John Dorsey added a huge name signing in OBJ during the off-season. Their first pre-season game saw them score on their opening drive with no-huddle called, providing the ailing Browns fans with some much-needed reprieve.
But as we reach the half way mark of the 2019 season, the Browns stand at a woeful 2-5 record following another abysmal showing against the New England Patriots. It’s hard to define a single problem with the Browns as it seems they have issues at multiple positions. Here are a few of the reasons why the Browns have so far failed to live up to the hype this year.
The Browns O-Line is arguably one of the worst in the league right now and they should have done everything possible to remedy this before the trade deadline. Baker Mayfield has been sacked 21 times so far this season and is struggling to make any magic happen on offence because the opposing teams are forcing him to hurry his plays. The Browns not only need to protect their QB of the future, but they also need to help the big players downfield by buying Mayfield time to make a play. Drafting some fresh blood to bolster their O-Line is a must in next year’s draft, as well as possibly try to acquire a veteran through the trade block and the offseason.
There is no doubt that Mayfield is the Browns’ QB of the future and in fairness, I remain a huge fan. The fact that Mayfield lacks talent isn’t the question here; he showed us that last year after taking the reins from Tyrod Taylor in Week 3 last year and lead the Browns to their first victory in over a year. But he still has a lot of work to do to grow as both a player and a leader.
Mayfield needs to learn to release the ball earlier during plays and avoid taking big hits. Not only will this protect his health, but will also remove the pressure from the struggling O-Line. He also needs to concentrate on being an NFL QB and stop worrying about getting his name out there for commercials and sponsorships. If he was to win some games and bring the Browns into the top flight of the NFL, then the endorsement deals will come.
Colin Cowherd also made a point that he needs to take some responsibility for his actions on the field. Blaming the officials, as he did recently, is not always the right call. By holding your hands up and admitting you made a mistake goes a long way both with the fans and your peers.
Penalties and Discipline
During the opening game during the Titans, the Browns gave away over 100 yards in penalties, a record for the franchise. Also, one of their players was ejected from the game after kicking a member of the Titans team in the head – something that is not and never should be tolerated within the NFL. The same thing happened during their Week 7 game against the Patriots.
Teams such as the Patriots and the Packers are both disciplined and avoid needless penalties, allowing them to move the chains and score points. The Browns need to settle down and remember the basics of playing football instead of reaching for those big plays. If the Browns want to be SuperBowl contenders, then they have to remember to hold their tempers and avoid making mistakes. I understand it’s easier said than done, but the ridiculous amount of flags thrown during the season opener was ridiculous.
In all honesty, I like Freddie Kitchens. As an offensive co-coordinator, he and Mayfield seemed to click and were able to score wins for the Browns, putting them close to a wild card place.
But I think appointing him as the head coach was the wrong call. Not only is he relatively inexperienced, but he is also coaching a team that is stacked with ego’s who will all want a chance to score points. Players such as OBJ, Jervis Landry and Kareem Hunt will all want a chance to add to their numbers and Freddie Kitchens needs to learn to manage that. It can be argued that the move hasn’t paid off for the Browns, but I think it is only fair to give him in till the end of the season to really show what he is capable of.
Their Gruelling Opening Schedule
In all fairness, the Browns have had a hard opening few weeks, facing off against some of the best teams the NFL has to offer. They now should be able to grab a few wins and stop them from sinking further with games upcoming against the Dolphins, the Bengals and the Broncos.
But beating teams such as the Patriots and the Steelers is something the Browns need to master if they have any chance of making it past week 17.