What we learned from Cleveland Browns loss to the Raiders

Browns Nick Chubb. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Browns Nick Chubb. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

Down 17 players, the Browns fought like champions, but fans can still find the same things to complain about. 

The Cleveland Browns left everything they had on the field, but once again, they came up short, and fans are left with that empty feeling. Fan to fan, may I just say that I can’t stand the Raiders? I’m still mad because of Red Right 88.

If Raider fans want to gloat, go ahead and gloat, but at least Browns fans retained our franchise from our greedy owner. You guys in Oakland have to gloat from watching on TV. Las Vegas fans are watching stolen goods. But your team won fair and square.

For those fans who blame the quarterback and the play-calling, did it feel any better versus the Raiders? This fan is not terribly sophisticated about x’s and o’s, but in this game, the Browns had Joel Bleeping Bitonio at left tackle and he’s still a Pro Bowler.

They had Nick Freaking Chubb at tailback and he is All-Universe. Backing him up is a guy with a career average of over 5.0 yards per carry in D’Ernest Johnson.

There comes a time in football when you realize you are bigger and stronger than the other side and you just hammer the other guy. That time should have been Monday night. It seemed like the Raiders were able to do a good job of plugging up the middle, but they were having trouble sealing the edges, particularly on Bitonio’s side.

Why didn’t the Browns hammer that side 35 times?

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When you probe the defense and find a weak spot, hammer it. This is like tank warfare in World War II. Send an entire division of tanks followed by the entire Red Army through the hole in the German line at Kursk and win the war. Instead, the Browns continued to try the middle. Chubb had some limited success, but it seemed to be much slower going.

As far as the passing game was concerned, Cleveland perhaps gave the Raiders too much respect. Yes, Nick Mullens is the third-string signal-caller, but he’s still a professional quarterback. If the Raiders are going to stack the box with eight or nine bodies to stop Chubb (evidently they watched film from Baltimore), a below-average passer should be able to find the right one-on-one matchups or even one-on-zero as coverages break down.

Play calling, play calling, play calling. Or fans, did you see it differently? Was it just a lack of ability from a depleted offense?

In any case, for those fans clamoring for Alex Van Pelt to take over play-calling duties, did you get what you wanted? Maybe it’s not as easy as it seems, but at Beavercreek Browns Backers, I assure you, we call great plays, especially with 20-20 hindsight.

What about Nick Mullens? He looked good. His passes wobble a little, and sometimes he used the fastball when he could have used a little more touch, but he definitely has a feel for the game and he has head smarts. His performance underscores the opinion that the Browns should be developing a young quarterback at all times as third string.

You never know when you might need one. The concept of storing one on the practice squad isn’t totally foolproof because teams are only allowed to protect them on Tuesday afternoon through game day. If Mullens is the best third-string guy in the NFL, maybe he should be given a roster spot.

However, they currently are committed to Kyle Lauletta because they pilfered him from Jacksonville’s practice squad and by rule cannot cut him from the roster for three games.

What about the defense? They held Derek Carr to 16 points and created turnovers. That should be good enough to win.

Takk McKinley went down with what is feared to be a torn Achilles. That really is awful. He has done so well for the Browns this season. Myles Garrett looked really hurt at the end also. We’ll have to see how his situation develops.

The three top tacklers were M.J. Stewart, Sheldon Day, and Jovante Moffatt. Given a chance to play, these guys were totally awesome.

Special recognition should also be given to John Johnson III. He had very deep personal convictions against Covid vaccinations. We don’t know what those reasons were but suffice it to say that they were personal. Suffice it to say also that he ultimately decided to put those convictions aside and he chose to get vaccinated earlier this season for the team.

That’s the only way that he was able to be back to play in Monday’s game because otherwise he would have been obliged to wait for a 10-day minimum. Thank you, Mr. Johnson. Miles of respect for you, sir.

Defensive ends Porter Gustin and Joe Jackson were destructive when they were in the game. How in the world did those guys not get picked up by other NFL teams when they had the chance? They had better be on their game going forward as well because they will be facing the Jeopardy host on Saturday. Not Pat Sajak, the other guy.

As for special teams, what can we say? Chase McLaughlin had a bad night and it cost his team. Such is life in the NFL. It’s easy to predict that the Browns may draft a kicker in about the sixth round in the 2022 draft.

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Cleveland is now 7-7. It is not impossible to make the playoffs as a Wild Card at 10-7. However, the Browns need to play like the Browns, to paraphrase Mike Pettine. Right now, they are playing like Beige.