While it is very early in the season, the Cleveland Browns week two will be a true test of the team’s mental toughness. The Browns travel east to face the New York Jets on Monday Night Football. The Jets enter Week two after blowing a 16-point lead to the Buffalo Bills. The Browns know that the Jets will come prepared and motivated to bury the Browns. If Baker Mayfield and crew want to make a statement to the league, they must improve in a few key areas.
Cleveland Browns Week Two Improvements
Without a doubt, the Browns looked like one of the most undisciplined teams in the league last week. Cleveland committed 18 penalties for a total loss of 182 yards compared to five penalties for 54 yards for the Tennessee Titans. Greg Robinson got ejected for kicking Kenny Vaccaro in the head. Myles Garrett gifted the Titans 15 yards when he slapped Delanie Walker in the helmet. The Browns were constantly in long down and distance situations where the playbook becomes very limited.
Penalties weren’t the only thing that showed the Cardiac Kids’ lack of control. Execution became laughable after the opening touchdown drive. On the Derrick Henry 75-yard touchdown, the thirst to make a play had almost every defender moving in the wrong direction on the play-action screen pass. When emotions are too high, brainpower becomes too low and the Titans took advantage of that.
Paying attention to detail in the film room is one of the most important disciplines for any professional athlete and the Browns need to live in the film room. With Sam Darnold being out and Trevor Siemian getting the nod, the Browns need to be prepared to create mistakes. Getting pressure in the backfield and mixing up the defensive looks is a start, but neutralizing Le’Veon Bell will be more of a factor.
The offensive line has been a known issue all offseason, though casual onlookers didn’t pay it much attention. Training camp was more like musical chairs for the offensive line. No one jumped off the tape at the offensive tackle, so the coaching staff seemingly settled. Chris Hubbard was dominated by Cameron Wake all game, allowing Wake to record 2.5 sacks and a safety in the game. Greg Robinson is a bust who is attempting to be a serviceable lineman at this point in his career.
Expect the Jets to dial-up a fair share of blitz packages. Former Browns and current Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is known for his love for pressuring the quarterback. Offensive line coach James Campen must stress technique in practice if Baker Mayfield has a chance of staying upright Monday night. Another lackluster performance in the trenches will almost certainly guarantee defeat.
Rookie head coach Freddie Kitchens was adamant about controlling the play-calling duties after a successful campaign last season. The play calling was far from success Sunday. The homerun shots are great when they work, but dialing them up in every series was a bit overboard. Nick Chubb finished with 17 carries, but the timing of those carries could’ve been way more meaningful to sustain drives.
Again, expect a plethora of blitzes to come from the Jets defense. Kitchens must mix in a good amount of plays designed to get the ball out of Mayfield’s hands quickly. Baker won’t have time to wait for those long routes to develop. We know how great Odell Beckham jr. is on the slant routes, so that should be in play. Expect to see D’Ernest Johnson and Nick Chubb get more targets out of the backfield to keep the defense honest.
The Battle for 41%
Only 11% of teams who start the season at 0-2 make the playoffs. Alternatively, the chances of making the playoffs after starting 1-1 are around 41%. Needless to say, this game is important for the psyche of both teams moving forward.
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