Three weeks into the season is too early to write off any team, but critics of the Cleveland Browns are lined up to tell you their season is over.
After their 20-13 loss to the Los Angeles Rams I saw more reasons for Cleveland Browns fans to be optimistic than pessimistic.
This is a relatively new roster with a rookie head coach so it’s no surprise they have struggled in moments.
Even though it is a couple of weeks away, there is reasons to believe the second half of the season will be much happier in Cleveland.
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Everyone can see that the play calling for the Browns has been a problem, look no further than the four straight pass plays Freddie Kitchens called from the four yard line to possibly tie the game against the Rams.
The offense just has not been able to get in a flow but the good thing is Kitchens knows that so hopefully he and offensive coordinator Todd Monken are working to fix it.
After the Rams game Kitchens said “I didn’t do a good job putting these guys in good situations.” It is a positive to have the coach see what he is doing wrong so he can adjust.
It is unclear what he adjustments he might make though, on Monday he made it very clear that he has no intentions on giving up his play calling duties at this moment.
It has to make Browns fans wonder if he has too much on his plate but just because he will not relinquish it now does not mean he won’t later in the season.
Another reason people should not give up on the Browns is their defense has been outstanding early in the season. They did allow 43 points to the Tennessee Titans in week one but the defense played well but penalties killed them.
Defensive end Myles Garrett said at the beginning of the season that he wanted to win defensive player of the year and is playing like it.
He leads the league with six sacks, five tackles for loss and eight quarterback hits.
Linebacker Joe Schoebert has been all over the field as well leading the team with 27 tackles. His play is even more important now that Christian Kirksey is on injured reserve.
The entire starting secondary was out against the Rams and their replacements played well. That means they have depth and will improve once the starters return.
The greatest reason for hope for Browns fans is their last eight games of the season. They only face two teams that currently have a winning record.
They have two games against the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers don’t have Ben Roesthlisberger and the Bengals who are 27th in points allowed.
They also play the Miami Dolphins who appear to be tanking and the Arizona Cardinals who have a rookie quarterback and a rookie head coach.
Cleveland should be favored to win to win all six of those games. The other two games are against the Buffalo Bills who are 3-0 and the Baltimore Ravens who they will see for the first time this Sunday.
They have a chance to win both of those games. To do so they will need to slow down two running quarterbacks in Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson.
A lot of that responsibility will come on the defensive line to stay in their rush lanes and keep them in the pocket.
They will also get running back Kareem Hunt back for the final eight games. Hunt led the league in rushing as a rookie in 2017 and helped the Kansas City Chiefs get the top seed in the playoffs last year.
Hunt is a better pass catcher than Nick Chubb and is another person you feel confident handing the ball to.
All of that is not to say that things will go perfect for the Browns because they still have problems they need to fix. The offensive line has not improved and as a result of that Baker Mayfield looks unsettled in the pocket.
They are still committing way too many penalties. It is hard to win the NFL when you give up free yards. If they can clean those things they still have a chance in a very winnable division.