Browns lost Sunday’s game before it even started

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 01: Cleveland Browns fans look on in the second half in the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Justin Aller /Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 01: Cleveland Browns fans look on in the second half in the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Justin Aller /Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns entered Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals with renewed confidence. However, it was clear the Browns lost this game before it started.

Head coach Hue Jackson and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams were outcoached by the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. During the 31-7 defeat, Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton successfully diagnosed every defense at the line of scrimmage. The Browns offense had absolutely zero life throughout the game (except for the drive that ended with a drop pass that was intercepted).

During the first half, the Browns defense faced a third and goal. Before the play, Dalton identified the coming blitz and called an audible to change the routes. The audible put Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green with man coverage against safety Jabrill Peppers (who was a coverage liability coming out of Michigan). As one would figure, the audible gave the Bengals an easy touchdown.

Later in the same half, Bengals offensive coordinator Bill Lazor called a screen play. The play was a perfect call as the Browns were blitzing. The screen play went 61 yards for a touchdown. Perfect calls do not happen by accident. Lazor had studied Williams’ tendencies and knew that he liked to blitz in that situation.

These plays are not isolated. They are merely the major examples of what happened to the Browns defense all day. The Bengals might as well have been in the Browns huddle. They knew every coverage and defense the Browns were running.

Cleveland Browns

Offensively, the Browns could never get started. The Bengals always seemed to have the right defense for whatever the Browns were running.

Early, in the second half the Browns motioned Duke Johnson then gave him the ball for a jet sweep. The Bengals were on Johnson two steps after he got the ball and it was obvious the defense knew exactly what was coming.

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The running game never truly got started. The Browns were effective running the ball early, but once they were down 14 points, Jackson abandoned the running game and the Bengals began to tee off on quarterback DeShone Kizer.

The Browns coaches were handed their rear ends on Sunday. As much as people want to complain about players dropping passes, missing holes or holding onto the ball too long, the loss falls squarely on the coaches’ inability to prepare a creative game plan to confuse the Bengals.

How does something like this happen? How do professional coaches get embarrassed like this in a professional football game?

The problem the Browns coaches have stems from the extremely young and inexperienced roster the coaching staff were handed.

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As a rookie, Kizer limits the playbook. He simply does not have the necessary grasp of the playbook to get to secondary and tertiary plays off a core play in the offense. As long as he is struggling to execute the core offensive plays, the coaches cannot get into the plays necessary to keep defense’s honest.

Against an experienced defensive coordinator and experienced defense, the Browns coaches have very little they can do to fool the defense. They are asking rookies to execute against seasoned veterans, which is not a formula for success.

The defense is limited by the change in scheme and young team. In the first year of a scheme, the defense is learning the basic core of the defense. The secondary and tertiary plays that keep offenses honest are unable to be called. As a result, a veteran quarterback like Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton can easily diagnose what the defense is doing and pick it apart.

While this young team matures and grows they will be playing an extremely predictable style of football. A veteran team like the Bengals will take advantage of a team like the Browns every time. It is going to be a long time before this team is good.

Next: Browns: 3 takeaways from another ugly loss

It is time for Browns fans to face reality. This team will lose a lot of games before they are ready to start winning.