The Cleveland Browns had a rough start to the 2020 season
The Cleveland Browns headed to Baltimore for week 1 of the season. They have a new head coach, new offense, new defense, and hoped for a new result on the field.
Unfortunately, the opener against the Ravens turned out to be a continuation of all the other opening day struggles. The Browns lost in a blowout in a game that was basically over midway through the 3rd quarter.
This game was full of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let’s take a look.
There is really not much to say here. The Browns were a team with a new head coach struggling to learn a new system in a COVID-19 offseason. Week 1 proved that teams with established coaches and quarterbacks are going to have an advantage this season.
One positive this game is that Stefanski did not mismanage the clock. Nor did he try to get two scores before half time (looking at you Freddie Kitchens).
Stefanski and crew found a way to utilize David Njoku without hurting the team. Instead of putting him out there as a traditional tight end asking him to block, the Browns went to Njoku primarily as a pass-catcher. They did not ask him to block. It is good that a coaching staff has finally found a way to use him in a way he can be productive.
The running game performed well. The zone runs looked dynamic with both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Both backs found holes and ran well. Unfortunately, the Browns were down early and had to abandon the running game.
Baker Mayfield looked better in one specific area. Baker did a better job of hitting his check down receivers. In years past, he would look downfield so long he would take a sack. But today he would hit is check down receivers faster.
Another bright spot is that the defense held Lamar Jackson’s running game in check. Of course, he didn’t have to run much given the circumstances.
The Browns were awful on 3rd downs. Cleveland didn’t convert a third down the entire first half. They didn’t convert their first third-down until 4 minutes left in the third quarter with the Browns trailing 31-6.
The failure to convert third down hurt the Browns as special teams were awful today. I am not a fan of kickers to begin with, but today’s kicker’s performers were bad. Placekicker Austin Seibert missed an extra point and doinked a field goal attempt off the left upright. Punter Jaime Gillan attempted a fake punt. It wasn’t much of a secret as his stance basically gave the fake away. Needless to say, the fake failed to give the Ravens the ball deep in Browns territory.
There were good moments. Jaime Gillan had a punt inside the 5-yard line. Of course, the defense, who was overmatched all day, promptly gave up a 99-yard drive over a 3-minute span. The defense struggled to stop the run and was burnt by the pass all game.
Odell Beckham Jr needs to show up. What happened to this guy? He was on a Hall of Fame trajectory before he arrived in Cleveland. Now one has to wonder if he even is a good wide receiver anymore. Can he catch anymore?
The Browns committed the trifecta of turnovers. They threw an interception giving the ball to the Ravens at mid-field. They gave up a turnover on a failed punt fake giving the ball to the Ravens on the Browns 30 yard line. Completing the trifecta they fumbled the ball on a promising drive that could have ended in points. Turnovers along with failed 3rd downs were game killers.
Penalties killed the Browns. It was not so much a bunch of penalties as much as penalties at the wrong time. Odell’s facemask penalty erased a scoring opportunity when the team was still in the game. A facemask penalty on the first punt of the second half negated pinning the Ravens deep and put them at mid-field
In all, the Browns played like a team with a new head coach. The Browns are back.