The Browns incurred another devastating, self-inflicted loss this past Sunday versus the now 5-1 Seattle Seahawks. The team was outscored 26-8 after having a 20-6 lead with 14:54 left in the second quarter, resulting from four turnovers, a blocked punt, nine penalties, four dropped passes, and eleven missed tackles.
Let’s dig into some standout statistics from the Week 6 defeat, with an emphasis on the Good (Nick Chubb), the Bad (rushing defense), and the Ugly (interceptions)1:
Nick Chubb is a top-five running back in the NFL. Week in and week out he continues to display the traits desired in an elite player at the position: patience, vision, elusiveness, instincts, and burst. In Week 6 versus the Seahawks, Chubb lead all running backs in rushing grade (89.6), elusive rating (244.0), forced missed tackles (10), and yards after contact per attempt (6.10). On a season-to-date basis, he currently has the following statistics and ranks:
Quarterback Baker Mayfield and wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. may garner all of the headlines, but Chubb is the best player on this offense:
Baker, Odell, Jarvis… all very famous.
But if you watch the Browns it’s obvious that Nick Chubb is their best player.
— Kyle Brandt (@KyleBrandt) October 13, 2019
The Browns rushing defense has been getting absolutely gashed as of late, allowing a total 618 rushing yards over the past three weeks to the ground-and-pound style offenses of the Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, and Seahawks. On a season-to-date basis, the rushing defense has a grade of 55.9, which is 31st in the league. Further, the 5.05 yards per attempt is the second-most allowed by the franchise through the first weeks of a season (post-merger era). Lastly, the defense has allowed the second-most broken tackles (21) to opposing running backs.
A lack of gap integrity, losing one-on-one battles, and missed tackles (Browns have 56) are to blame for the fault performance by the group thus far2.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield’s inaccuracies and turnovers are cause for concern thus far in 2019. He currently ranks 28th out of 31 qualifiers in adjusted completion percentage, which is a PFF metric that accounts for dropped passes, throwaways, spiked balls, batted passes, and passes where the quarterback is hit when throwing the ball. Further, his on-target percentage of 70.7% ranks 28th out of 30 quarterbacks who have a minimum of 100 pass attempts. As it relates to turnovers, he added three more interceptions on Sunday, which now is a league-leading total of 11. Let’s take a closer look at each interception from the game to see what went wrong:
Number One, Targeting Odell Beckham, Jr.
The Browns offense was positioned second-and-10 from the Seahawks 46 yard-line with 6:20 left in the second quarter. Out of shotgun formation and an empty backfield set, Chubb and Beckham, Jr. ran a standard switch route concept versus man coverage. Mayfield targeted Beckham, Jr. out of the break, but Seahawks linebacker Mychal Kendricks and Beckham, Jr. collide while the ball is in the air, thereby disrupting the route and causing an interception for Seahawks cornerback Tre Flowers. Pass interference? You be the judge and jury:
Number Two, Targeting Jarvis Landry–
The Browns offense was positioned second-and-8 from the Seahawks 10 yard-line with 1:47 left in the second quarter. Out of 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TEs, and 2 WRs), Mayfield targeted Landry on the skinny post versus Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin. Griffin broke up the pass, which was deflected directly into Seahawks safety Tedric Thompson’s hands:
This play changed the landscape of the game, as the Seahawks proceeded to drive 82 yards in 1:09, narrowing the score to 20-18. What could have resulted in a commanding 27-12 Browns lead going into the half and had the Seahawks treading water, instead gave them a life vest that eventually led to them to the victory shore.
Number Three, Targeting Dontrell Hilliard
The Browns offense was positioned second-and-15 from their own 20 yard-line with 3:08 left in the fourth quarter. Out of shotgun formation and an empty backfield set, Mayfield targeted Hilliard on the in route, but the pass was delivered behind Hilliard and bounced off his hands into the welcoming arms of Seahawks linebacker K.J.Wright.
My main issue with this play is not the fairly inaccurate throw or the drop by Hilliard, it’s that Hilliard was on the field in the first place. The team’s most talented playmakers should be on the field for the most pivotal set of downs, i.e. when you’re down four points at home with less than three minutes left. At the worst, Chubb should have been on the receiving end of the target.
The bye week could not have come at a better time for this team. With the supposed gauntlet of the schedule behind them, the Browns have to make up ground quickly in order to compete for the division. We have seen the flashes of potential this team has. Stop the self-inflicted wounds and the wins will accumulate. I look forward to a more disciplined and focused team in the coming weeks.