Baker Mayfield and the 2018 Cleveland Browns have their first test against inside the division, an important one against the Baltimore Ravens. The last time the Orange and Brown won a game in the AFC North was October 11, 2015, a 33-30 overtime win in Baltimore. Veteran quarterback Josh McCown was lights out on that afternoon, throwing for a franchise record 457 yards and two touchdowns, completing 70.6 percent of his passes. Former kicker Travis Coons nailed a 32-yard field goal in overtime, earning the Browns a win against the Ravens.
Mayfield and the Browns are not unfamiliar to ending bad franchise streaks. Last week against the Oakland Raiders, in his first career start, Mayfield anchored a Browns offense that hung up 42 points in a devastating overtime loss in the Black Hole. Sunday, Sept. 30 game against the Raiders marked the first time the Browns scored 40 or more points since December 20, 2009.
The Ravens have won the last five meeting against the Browns, three of the wins coming at FirstEnergy Stadium. If there was a positive to conclude from those three home losses in Cleveland, the Browns were only outscored by a total of 18 points; not bad considering some of the losses the Orange and Brown have endured over the last two seasons under the leadership of head coach Hue Jackson.
- Run Rookie, Run!
Last week against the Raiders, rookie running back Nick Chubb, the 34th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, ran for 105 yards on three carries for two touchdowns. In the three previous games, Chubb averaged 3 yards, 7 yards and 7 yards on less than 10 carries. It is time to increase that total to 10 carries a game for the explosive rookie running back from Georgia. Fellow running back Carlos Hyde is averaging 3.4 yards per carry, the fifth worst in the NFL among running backs with 50 or more rushing attempts. Hyde leads the NFL in rushes per game but average 0.7 yards per game less than any running back with 65 carries or more. A positive with Hyde, he does lead the NFL in rushing touchdowns, along with Alvin Kamara.
2. The Heisman House, Cleveland Edition
2018 Heisman Trophy winner and the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft Baker Mayfield, and 2017 Heisman Trophy winner and 32 overall pick in the same draft Lamar Jackson will share the field for the first time. Mayfield will be starting his second game in orange and brown, and although Jackson will not be under center to start the game for the Ravens, he will be featured. Baltimore used Jackson 30 times in week one, taking part in 23 run snaps and seven passing snaps. Since week one, the Ravens have scaled back only using Jackson on 17 total snaps in games 2-4. On 13 rushing attempts, Jackson has rushed for 2 yards. Expect to see him on Sunday.
Browns second-year strong safety Jabrill Peppers had some unique comments in regard to Cleveland sports fans. when speaking to the media on Wednesday, October 3. This comes courtesy of NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk: “So that’s one thing I notice about Cleveland sports, you guys are very, very wishy-washy,” Peppers told the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram. “If it ain’t going right immediately, calling for heads, calling for jobs. Peppers then followed up his comments on Thursday, October 4th saying, “Obviously I wasn’t talking about the fans as a whole, more so the environment of an NFL franchise,” (ESPN). Interesting comments coming from a first round pick that has not lived up to the hype.
4. Talk to my agent
Backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor spoke to the media earlier this week, reflecting on his demotion from being the starter. When asked if he envisioned being moved before the deadline Taylor said, “You never know.” Following up his comments shortly after, Taylor told the media, “We’ll see. That is more of a question for my agent.” Taylor was demoted to the second team following week three’s game against the Jets and is in the final year of his contract.
- Comeback season? Not really but kind of.
Another Heisman Trophy winner and former Browns starting quarterback Robert Griffin III is attempting to revive his career with the Ravens. Griffin was named NFL offensive rookie of the year in 2012, and due to multiple injuries, his career spiraled in the wrong direction. Griffin went unsigned last season but Baltimore gave him a chance in 2018. After throwing for 243 yards in the preseason and completing 65.9 percent of his passes, teams came away impressed with Griffin’s performance following a year away from football.
Was told by league source nine teams made calls to the #Ravens inquiring about RG3.
— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) September 3, 2018
Players to Watch
Brown and Flacco have developed great chemistry throughout the first quarter of the NFL season, connecting on 15 passes for 338 yards and two touchdowns. With Mitchell out against Baltimore, do not be surprised to see Brown continue to make an impact.
Young has been a bit of a surprise for Baltimore. After missing the entire 2017 season, Young has had an impressive bounce-back year. He has received an 80.4 grade in run defense by Pro Football Focus, compiling two sacks and a tackle for loss.
Jefferson has been an absolute stud this year for the Ravens. He leads the team in tackles (24) and has been productive in all other categories. Jefferson has two tackles for loss, three passes defended, and an interception.
I expanded on this earlier this week, but with Terrance Mitchell being placed on injured reserve, Gaines will be best-suited to replace Mitchell as the Browns second starting corner.
Chubb should be due for more carries after his performance against the Raiders last week. The rookie running back, Chubb, has proven to be the best of the Browns “grounder and pounders.” Our own Josh Poloha wrote earlier this week on why Chubb should be featured more.
Against the Raiders, Collins actually made an impact (it felt like for the first time all season). Collins had a pass defended, a tackle for loss, and a sack against Oakland. Let’s see if he can carry his week four performance into week five.
Fun Facts (via Browns official)
- Browns rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield and Ravens rookie tight end Mark Andrews were teammates at Oklahoma. They were both unanimous first-team All-Americans in 2017. (Browns)
- School Pride Edition: Greg Roman, the Ravens associate head coach and tight ends coach is an alumnus of John Carroll University. (Browns)
- Hometown Edition: Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was born in Toledo, Ohio. Defensive lineman Chris Wormley is a Toledo native, as he played high school football at Whitmer High School. Wormley played collegiately at Michigan with Jabrill Peppers. (Browns)
- Browns backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor won Super Bowl XLVII with the Ravens, serving as the backup to Joe Flacco. (Browns)
- Ravens senior personnel assistant George Kokinis began his NFL career working in the Browns’ scouting department from (1991-95) after serving an internship with the team’s operations department. He also served as general manager of the Browns for part of the 2009 season (Browns).
Injury Report and Guessing Inactives
- LB James Burgess (knee) is OUT, did not practice all week
- LB Christian Kirksey (illness) is QUESTIONABLE, did not practice on Friday
- DB Damarious Randall (heel) is QUESTIONABLE, did not practice on Wednesday and was limited Thursday and Friday
- WR Antonio Callaway (knee) did not practice Wednesday, was limited on Thursday and was a full participant on Friday
- DL Trevon Coley (wrist) was a full participant all week
- DL Myles Garrett (wrist) was a full participant all week
- WR Jarvis Landry (knee) did not practice Wednesday, was limited on Thursday and was a full participant on Friday
- QB Tyrod Taylor (back) was a full participant all week
Other Inactives? (Guessing)
- QB Drew Stanton, Tyrod Taylor is healthy and will backup Mayfield.
- OL Austin Corbett, Earl Watford has been the team’s sixth offensive lineman.
- WR Damion Ratley, Browns seem to be patient with the rookie.
- DL Brian Price, Was elevated to the active roster just two days ago.
- LB D’Juan Hines, Could be a surprise.
- TE Orlson Charles, With DeValve back Charles, will likely be inactive.
- DE Chad Thomas, This is a bold prediction but he should be.
Ravens 31, Browns 27
***I will be covering the game on my Twitter (@KyleKellyWFNY) and my Quick Hits and More Column will be up on Monday morning.