There's having a bad game and then there's the burn the tape and never speak of this game again type of bad game. The Cleveland Browns had themselves the latter in their horrendous 28-3 showing against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4.
The Browns entering their bye week after what transpired at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Sunday is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, the bye will give them the chance to lick their wounds, clear their minds, and prepare themselves for an immensely talented 49ers team that awaits them on the other side of their off week. But on the other hand, now they have to sit on this brutal loss to the Ravens for a full two weeks.
But before we can turn the page and act like this game never took place, we first must mine the game tape to see what went wrong and if there are any positives to take from the shellacking. It is time to be brave and rip off the band-aid. So, without further ado…
Grading the Browns offensive performance against the Ravens
There are a few unknown factors, so we are going to operate with the following assumptions: the coaching staff was aware there was a decent chance that Deshaun Watson was not going to be able to play and that there needed to be a separate gameplan in place for Dorian Thompson-Robinson. If the above is not true, then we have bigger problems than what happened at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Sunday.
But what did happen on the field Sunday was a complete failure by this offensive coaching staff by every conceivable measure. There was little to no emphasis on making the game easier for rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson making his first career start. If there was ever a game to lean on the running game and utilize quick hitters in the passing game this was that game.
But that was not what transpired Sunday. The game plan had very little variation from what Watson had been tasked with running. If anything, Stefanski dialed up more easy answers for Watson to start the game in Week 3 against the Titans. There was no creativity in the sequencing of plays or in the play designs themselves, just a copy-and-paste approach that was not tailored to DTR.
In total, DTR dropped back a total of 40 times going 19-of-36 for 121 yards with three interceptions and taking four sacks. Having your rookie quarterback drop back 40 times is at minimum 10 times too many. But in the flow of the game when you are down more than two scores that is the only realistic path to attempt a comeback.
However, when the game was within two scores Stefanski had DTR attempt 18 passes while only calling 12 run plays during that same span. There was zero attempt at a screen game, or any designed quarterback runs to keep the defense honest.
DTR will take a ton of blame for what transpired against the Ravens, and while he didn't play well, he was set up to fail by the lack of failsafes to aid the rookie in the game plan.