In the first AFC North divisional matchup of 2021 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Cleveland Browns had way too many duds, and way too few studs, to pull out a victory at home.
Sunday afternoon was a chance for the Cleveland Browns to show that the slow start to the 2021 season wasn’t a true definition of this team, and instead show that the preseason hype surrounding them was true. What happened, however, did quite the opposite, showing that perhaps the hype was not warranted and that the 4-3 start to the season is an accurate representation of the team this year.
While the Browns had several chances to put more points on the board, they ultimately could only get 10 points. Meanwhile, their defense played with heart, but some big plays at inopportune times led to them being unable to find a good footing, as the Steelers were able to do just enough to score 15 points and eke out a five-point victory.
With the game being in the rearview mirror, and having some time to think about the final outcome, here are the studs and duds from the Browns’ lackluster showing on Sunday afternoon.
Cleveland Browns Dud: Offensive Playcalling
The offensive playcalling by head coach Kevin Stefanski was rather abysmal. In the first half, Stefanski opted to neglect the running game, likely due in large part to Pittsburgh expecting a heavy dose of running with the return of a healthy Nick Chubb.
While the second half saw more rushes than in the first half, all-in-all the Browns looked disinterested in running the ball. The team finished the game with 96 rushing yards on 23 carries, with the bulk of those obviously going to Chubb.
Regardless of whether Stefanski believed his team couldn’t run the ball successfully or not against the Steelers, fans have come to expect a more run-focused attack on offense, especially when your starting quarterback has an injured shoulder and the wide receivers have been rather lackluster through the first seven weeks.
The offensive playcalling left a lot to be desired, and the Browns move into Week 9 of the season sitting at a .500 record. If the offensive playcalling doesn’t get better, it’ll be a longshot for the Browns to make the playoffs again in 2021.