The Cleveland Browns headed into week two hoping to build off the previous week’s success. Tonight they had to fight against letdown and depth.
Offensively, the Cleveland Browns established the run. But they looked extremely one dimensional in doing so during a 19-17 loss in Preseason Week 2.
The Browns came out running the ball against the Buffalo Bills. Out to prove they can run the ball after last week’s ineptitude, the Browns ran the ball every play in the first drive except two. Other than an incomplete pass and 7-yard gain, Cleveland made it a point to run the ball right at the Bills. That drive ended in a touchdown.
Unfortunately, after that drive, the Browns played like a team getting caught in a trap game. Coming off an emotional win against the New York Giants and the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles coming to town next week, the Bills game was easy to overlook once success in the running game was created.
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After the first drive, the Browns first-team offense struggled to gain a first down for the duration of their time in the game. The passing offense was non-existent. It seems the Browns set out to establish the run against the run. The letdown was real.
Baker Mayfield initially struggled. The second team offense continued the trend of establishing the run with Nick Chubb. Chubb bounced back from his lackluster performance in week 1. But when a team puts an overemphasis upon the run, there becomes only so much success the run game can have.
Only in the second half when the offense finally began to open up with Mayfield at the helm did they find success. Once offensive coordinator Todd Haley called a balanced game, the Browns started to have some success.
Defensively the Browns continue to show signs of dominance. They held the Buffalo first-team offense to three consecutive three and outs. If this was a letdown game for the Browns, someone forgot to tell the defense.
The only time they defense looked subpar was late in the fourth quarter. Some would point to the three consecutive scoring drives engineered by rookie quarterback Josh Allen. Although much will be made of Allen’s drives he did not make many plays with his arm. His success came from running the ball when the pocket collapsed. Also, Allen’s drives started with great field position and were helped out by Browns penalties.
Over the course of the game, it became apparent that depth is a major concern for the defensive line. After the first unit left the field, the second-team defensive tackles looked less than NFL ready. The Browns will need to address depth until Trevon Coley and Caleb Brantley can return from injury.
The defense showed they were able to disguise coverages and rush the passer. This ability was combined with a secondary that can cover receivers down the field. The first team looked very good.
The Browns will need to bounce back from this letdown performance next week against the Philadelphia Eagles. They have shown in week one they can pass the ball. In week two they showed they can run the ball. They need to show that can do both in week three. The defense simply needs to continue doing what it is doing.
Minus some stupid special teams plays, the Browns looked like an actual NFL football team. God knows this is a major step forward from last season.