Browns

Same Ole Browns?

AP Photo - Ron Schwane

On a day of honor for one of the greatest Cleveland Browns of all-time, the orange and brown went back to the way they often played when Joe Thomas started at left tackle.

Coming into the game on Sunday, October 14, the Browns had won two of the first five ball games for the first time since 2015 and started the season undefeated at home for the first time since 2004. None of those facts mattered because the Browns looked like the Same Ole Browns against the Los Angeles Chargers.

This may be a case of overreaction Monday or Browns fan blood running through my veins, but one thing is for certain: the Los Angeles Chargers traveled 2,362 miles (West coast to East coast) to play a 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time game and handily beat the Browns, 38-14.

In the first five weeks (in short) the Browns tied the Steelers, making an impressive statement; lost a game against the 4-1 Saints because of a kicker; found their franchise quarterback in prime time against the Jets; lost a game against the worst team in football because of two blown calls in Oakland; and successfully won a division game against the Ravens for the first time since 2015.

It might have been too good to be true, or just a magical start to the season but the Browns actually looked like a competitive football team, that has the potential to win football games in the first five weeks. Not against the Chargers. Against the Chargers, after taking two huge steps forward in previous weeks, the Orange and Brown took 38 steps back in week six.

This day was in-the-making — It had to be. There is no way that a team under the leadership of Hue Jackson (1-31 in the previous two years) could actually play professional football at a high level for every game this season. This may come as hyperbole, but one thing is for sure — The Browns got their ass whooped against the Chargers.

To say the run game was atrocious, would be an understatement. Melvin Gordon ran for 132 yards on 18 carries for a career-high three touchdowns. Congratulations to those that had him in fantasy. Every time Gordon reached the end zone, it was with ease. Watch this play https://twitter.com/nfl_dovkleiman/status/1051554480918007808?s=21

Jamie Collins, the man Browns signed to a four-year, $50 million deal had absolutely no interest in playing. As a team, Cleveland surrendered 246 rushing yards … 69 more rushing yards than they allowed all season.

It did not even matter that the Chargers had Philip Rivers. Keenan Allen, Los Angeles’ top wide receiver, totaled 41 rushing yards were more than Carlos Hyde, Nick Chubb, and Duke Johnson. Rivers did add two passing touchdowns, both to Tyrell Williams. Oh yeah, the Browns made Tyrell Williams look like Terrell Owens yesterday afternoon. https://twitter.com/usatodaynfl/status/1051536491233599489?s=21

Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, and Genard Avery, three of the Browns’ top defensive players this season, all played poorly. Garrett had one assisted tackle, Ward had no pass breakups and Avery did not even make the stat sheet. Damarious Randall, another one of the Browns top defensive dawgs, lead the team with eight tackles — When your free safety leads the team in tackles, that is not good.

On the offensive end, it was not much better. Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield finally looked like a rookie, going 22-for-46 for 238 yards, an interception, and a late touchdown to David Njoku. The second-year tight end, Njoku, finished with 55 yards on seven receptions, being targeted 12 times. Mayfield and Njoku failed to connect on five other passes, just another thorn in the side for the Browns offense.

The biggest thorn in the side was struck by the Browns two “top” wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Antonio Callaway. Between the two, they were targeted 19 times, only hauling in four total receptions for 20 yards. Mayfield was at fault for this almost as much as Landry/Callaway but when the guy you paid $75 million for five years and the other you took a flier on as a potential Josh Gordon 2.0 (off-the-field, not sure about the on-field just yet) are targeted 19 times and only haul in 20 yards, there is no chance at winning ball games.

Rookie wide receiver Damion Ratley, the 175th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, did not have one catch coming into yesterday’s game. Ratley finished with a team-high 82 yards on six receptions. Yesterday on the Browns radio broadcast, play-by-play voice Jim Donovan said, “his head was spinning.” Yeah, that guy led the Browns in receiving.

Part of the reason the Browns were so unsuccessful in the passing game was that of the lack of success in the run game. Hyde, the Browns lead back, ran the ball 14 times for 34 yards. Hyde is third in the NFL in rushing attempts with 114 and has the worst yards per attempt in the NFL with running backs over 95 carries. Meanwhile, Chubb continues to look like the Browns best running back. Yet, he only ran the ball three times but ran for 15 yards. It was a small sample size, but at that pace, Chubb could have run for 125 yards or more.

Alright, the point has been made. The Browns played very poorly against the Chargers. This would not be as big of a deal if it was most of any other team in the NFL, but because of the historic losing the Browns have endured over the last two years … this is a big deal.

The one win the Browns had in the previous two years came against these “same” Chargers. Obviously not the identical same team, but it was the Chargers.

This week, the Browns have the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay. The Bucs started out as one of the hottest teams in football with Ryan Fitzpatrick creating Fitzmagic in his first two starts. “Fitzmagic” quickly became “Fitztragic” after throwing three interceptions against the Steelers.

Back at the helm at quarterback for Tampa Bay is Jameis Winston, and they are hungry for a win. On Sunday, October 14, against the Falcons Winston threw for 395 yards, four touchdowns, finishing with a passer rating of 115.4. The Browns better bring their “A” game on October 21, if they want to crash the narrative that this team is just the “Same Ole Browns”.