Browns: 4 takeaways from Week 2 loss to the Ravens
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns had another rough day in Baltimore against the Ravens. Here are four takeaways from an ugly loss.
The Cleveland Browns dropped to 0-2 on the 2017 regular season on Sunday following a road loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
In many ways the game looked familiar to Browns fans as the team fell behind early, hurt themselves with mistakes, teased a comeback and, ultimately, looked like what they are: a team still finding its way as it nears the end of the beginning of a massive rebuild.
Here are four quick takeaways from today’s game.
DeShone Kizer remains a rookie quarterback
Kizer improved on the sacks this week — he only took two after opening the season with seven — but everything else reminded fans that Kizer is still a rookie quarterback that needs a lot more seasoning.
He finished 15-of-31 for 182 yards and threw three interceptions while not being able to get the Browns into the end zone. His accuracy issues were on full display as Kizer consistently threw behind receivers, most notably in the end zone when a pass intended for Rashard Higgins on second-and-goal was intercepted by Lardarius Webb.
Had Kizer made a better throw, Higgins had a touchdown and the Browns would have cut the deficit to seven points with about 12 minutes left to play. Would it have made a difference in the final outcome? Probably not, but it would have made everyone feel a whole lot better.
Today’s game showed that Kizer still has a lot of work ahead of him before anyone can be sure that he is “the guy” for the Browns.
Hue Jackson needs to find some answers
It wouldn’t be a Browns game without several puzzling play calls on offense.
From only giving your running backs 14 carries — despite averaging more than four yards per carry — head coach Hue Jackson’s offensive coordinator is not doing him any favors.
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The best example came in the fourth quarter after running back Duke Johnson’s 16-yard run set up the Browns with a first-and-goal at Baltimore’s three-yard-line.
The Browns invested millions in the offensive line in the offseason, so it would not be unrealistic to try running the ball in from that spot and cut the Ravens’ lead to seven. Instead, Jackson called for some kind of quarterback draw that lost four yards and then Kizer threw an interception.
The Browns may not have come back anyway, but those two plays pretty much killed off any hope.
The offense has been together through all of training camp, the preseason and the first two games of the season. There must be something — anything — that the offense is comfortable running. Jackson needs to figure out what that is and start utilizing it quick.
Too many mistakes, again
The Browns, especially on offense, cannot afford to continue to hurt themselves with penalties and stupid mistakes.
They tightened that up in Week 1 as they only turned over the ball once and committed just four penalties, which helped keep the Browns in the game.
That was not the case on Sunday, as in addition to five turnovers, the Browns had 11 penalties and were just two-of-12 on third down, many of those long yardage situations thanks to the penalties.
In addition to Kizer being inaccurate, when he did hit his receivers there were drops all over the field as Corey Coleman, David Njoku, Rashard Higgins, Ricardo Louis and Kenny Britt all had drops on catchable passes.
Britt will catch all the heat again this week as he has been anointed the whipping boy by media and fans for the offense’s woes, but there was plenty of blame to be found on the field this afternoon.
Cover a tight end? Maybe?
Players and defensive coordinators come and go, but the one constant remains that the Browns have no clue what to do when it comes to covering tight ends.
A week after allowing Pittsburgh tight end Jesse James to catch six passes and a pair of touchdowns, the Browns were hopeless on Sunday against 36-year-old Ben Watson, who finished with eight receptions (on eight targets) for 91 yards. Watson hasn’t had a game like that since Week 11 of the 2015 season.
There is a lot to like about what defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is doing with the defense, but taking the tight end out of the game is not one of them.
Odds and Ends
So much for the No. 1 ranked rush defense. On Sunday, the Browns allowed 136 rushing yards and runs of 37 yards by Javorius Allen, 16 yards by Alex Collins and 12 yards by Terrance West.
Wide receiver Rashard Higgins has seven receptions and 95 yards, both NFL highs. (per clevelandbrowns.com)
Next: Browns make too many mistakes in loss to Ravens
Rookie tight end David Njoku caught his first NFL touchdown, a 23-yarder from quarterback Kevin Hogan. It was also Hogan’s first NFL touchdown pass.