Cleveland Browns Offensive Grade
The Cleveland Browns offense took a huge hit due to COVID-19 and as a result, third-string quarterback Nick Mullens got his 17th career NFL start and first with the Browns as Baker Mayfield and Case Keenum were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
All things considered, Mullens didn’t play a terrible game. He finished completing 20 of 30 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown. He didn’t turn the ball over, so in all, he did enough and put the team in a position to win the game.
Late in the fourth quarter, Mullens scrambled in the pocket before finding tight end Harrison Bryant for a touchdown to give the Browns the lead. After the Williams interception, Cleveland had a chance to put the game away, but took the ball out of Mullen’s hands, despite the Raiders knowing Nick Chubb would be carrying the rock. A play-action pass would have been a perfect play call, but that was not the case.
The coaching staff went conservative at the end and it cost this team the game and potentially the playoffs.
As for Chubb, he started off slowly as the Raiders were stacking the box with eight defenders, but then in the fourth quarter, we saw Chubb do what we are accustomed to seeing him do. He had a big 24-yard run to spark the offense before finally capping the drive off with a four-yard touchdown scamper. He finished with 91 yards on 23 carries. So much for the notion that you can’t run the ball with eight in the box, right?
The receiving corps has been bad most of the 2021 season and in the game against the Raiders, the receivers (Donovan Peoples-Jones and Rashard Higgin) combined to catch seven passes on 13 targets for 72 yards. DPJ struggled in the early goings with drops and pass breakups. The tight ends (David Njoku and Harrison Bryant) combined to catch five passes on seven targets for 40 yards and the Bryant touchdown.
It wasn’t due to a lack of effort, especially with so many guys not playing, but instead, it was a lack of coaching that ultimately cost this team the game. Mike Priefer, who was filling in for Kevin Stefanski as the head coach, coached real similarly to how the actual head coach does: conservative.
For whatever reason, this team will go for it on fourth down but will play not to lose later in the game instead of playing to win.
The Browns season is far from over despite the heartbreaking loss, and next week after we all open up Christmas gifts left by Santa, the team will be in a battle with the NFC North winning Packers. Can the Browns get a Festivus and Christmas miracle?