The Browns are still right on schedule, even after getting plastered by the Los Angeles Chargers 38-14. The Chargers played well. The Browns played poorly with plenty of excuses that even if they won’t make, I’ll be happy to make for them. Though I can’t excuse how poorly the defense played on Sunday, and that’s where I’ll begin before banging out the excuses.
The Browns defense met its match against Phil Rivers and the Chargers, but there’s just no excuse for how poorly the Browns tackled on Sunday against the run game. The edge was set continuously by the Chargers as gimmicky end-arounds gashed the team for gobs of yards. Keenan Allen is a dangerous weapon, but he shouldn’t average 10 yards per rush on four carries in addition to Melvin Gordon putting up 132. The Browns were manhandled at every level from the line of scrimmage to the deepest portions of the secondary. Look no further than Demarious Randall’s should-have-been interception that Tyrell Williams ripped away for a touchdown. I can’t say that it was all effort. I’m presuming the Browns were out-schemed as well, but it looked like a lackluster effort regarding energy and speed to 50-50 balls. But the Browns might have been able to compete anyway, except for everything else that went wrong.
All aboard the excuse train.
Baker Mayfield hurt his ankle, which seemed to hobble him for the rest of the game. It was unlucky as he injured himself stepping on the first down stripe that they put down on the field. That caused him to lose his footing, and he wasn’t the same in terms of mobility or explosiveness the rest of the game. I think you could have made the case that Tyrod Taylor could have come in to relieve him for the rest of the game, but Hue Jackson seemingly can’t handle an infinitesimal quarterback controversy. That bugs me. A guy was banged up, and he’s the obvious starter. It’s not an unreasonable time to go to your backup to keep Baker Mayfield from doing further damage in a lost game. Had Baker not slipped on a first down marker early in the game, they would have had a great chance to fight back.
The Browns seemed to get Duke Johnson involved early, but the ball distribution again seemed spotty for the Browns. Johnson got targets in the passing game and a few carries, but Nick Chubb only got three carries as Carlos Hyde got 14. In a game where your quarterback has sprained his ankle, and you’re down to three healthy receivers when Rod Streater gets hurt in the early part of the first quarter, it’s probably time to overutilize the most loaded offensive skill position group on the team. The Browns made their bed at the receiver group, but they’re also somewhat snake bitten. It’s just an unfortunate position to be in heading into a week where you have to sign Brashad Perriman, and he can’t even suit up for you. Rashard Higgins made strides and Antonio Callaway needs time and experience but has shown flashes. It just wasn’t the Browns’ day at the receiver position.
You’re not going to complain about the refs, are you?
Every NFL team can complain about NFL referees every single week, but I think the Browns have a case as the worst officiated team in the league this season. We’ve litigated many of the other referee missteps on these pages already, but this week might be perfect to go nuclear. The equation for being taken seriously is perfect. Why? 1. The mistake made on Sunday was utterly horrendous as the refs blatantly missed a false start and the play resulted in a Chargers touchdown. 2. Unless you’re an unabashed devotee of The Butterfly Effect, the mistake didn’t have a meaningful impact on the outcome of the football game. The Browns were going to lose anyway, so it’s not a homer take in any way shape or form. 3. The mistake was so bad that it bears repeating.
This somehow wasn’t a false start on what turned out to be a Chargers TD pic.twitter.com/C96wyxXZxR
— Adam Stites (@AdamStites_) October 14, 2018
It’s not ordinary for Christian Kirksey to comment in any way shape or form. He was one of the most upstanding players for the Browns over the past few years as they’ve tanked and lost to historic proportions.
#Browns LB @Kirko58 said he’s tired of having to talk about bad calls, said NFL needs to “do something about it.” Kirksey clearly wanted to rip the officials but didn’t want to say anything that would get him fined
— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) October 14, 2018
The Browns were beaten fair and square on Sunday, but I’m not ready to call the rebuild a failure. It’s a bump in the road for a team that is young enough that you knew they were going to hit some tough times. Even if I thought maybe they should have gone to the backup, they did keep trying to gain experience and get better. This pass to David Njoku was nice, and I hope the next time I see it, it’s when the game still has meaning.
#Browns rookie QB Baker Mayfield finds David Njoku for a touchdown.
Problem is? he was down 35-6 at the time.pic.twitter.com/PYvXC6USQN
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 14, 2018
The Browns still have the right talent. They can create a positive trajectory heading into next season. The defense needs to come out and play their consistent best and not take any games off. I still believe they have their quarterback, even though he had a rough game. I also know they need more. The players they have, need to improve, and the team needs more receivers. However, if you didn’t think there would be some days like this against teams like the Chargers, then it’s on you.