3 areas the Browns must vastly improve before facing Baltimore
The Cleveland Browns find themselves at a pivotal fork in the road in Week 14. While not mathematically eliminated from postseason play, anything short of running the table would be a coffin nail in the 2022 season. Either they’ll choose to fight to close out the season or they will pack it in early and start making offseason vacation plans.
Which fork in the road will Cleveland choose to go down? The path with the most resistance will be gearing up to take on a 9-4 Baltimore Raven team this Saturday. The Ravens come into this week’s game hobbled, possibly being down their top two quarterbacks.
If the Browns are looking to avenge their Week 7loss to Baltimore, then they will need to shore up several areas of their execution. Here are three pivotal issues that the Browns need to address before facing the Ravens.
Browns Area of concern No. 3: Keep the yellow laundry off the field
Cleveland has shown a propensity for shooting themselves in the foot. They just can’t quit it. In Week 13 the Browns more than doubled their opponents in penalties and almost tripled them in penalty yards.
In fact, it was their knack for penalties in crucial situations that jumpstarted the Bengals’ offense. After forcing a punt on their first three possessions, the Browns racked up 55 yards in penalties on the Bengal’s fourth drive that resulted in a touchdown. The most crucial penalty occurred when Tony Fields was called for roughing the kicker on what would have been Cincinnati’s fourth straight punt. Backbreaking.
Cleveland is currently 28th in the league in penalty yards per game (54.1). This is not an anomaly. The Browns finished 28th in the league in penalty yards last season as well with a whopping 60.9 negative yards accrued per game.
The adage ‘you’re either coaching them to commit penalties or you’re allowing them to happen’ definitely applies to this coaching regime. When you are in year three of the same voices leading the three phases of your team and the only consistent thread is being one of the most penalized teams in the league, alarm bells should be ringing.
If they continue down this path, you can expect extended drives for the opponents as well as big plays taken off the board for the Browns. It’s hard enough to beat your opponent in the NFL, but it’s immensely more difficult when you add self-sabotage to the equation. If Cleveland is able to limit the amount of yellow laundry being thrown in their direction, they will have a chance to get back in the win column against the Ravens.