The Cleveland Browns defeated the New York Jets 23-3 on Monday night. While the score wasn’t close, coach Freddie Kitchens‘ offensive gameplan and players’ execution didn’t make the Browns playoff contenders.
Victory vs. Jets Doesn’t Make the Browns Playoff Contenders
Baker Mayfield was confused by the Jets’ defensive looks all game. The frustration of going 19-35 and throwing a bad interception was written all over his face. The Gregg Williams-led defense would show one look pre-snap, then drop into a different coverage once the ball was snapped. Mayfield has to learn how to read this at some point because the Tennessee Titans defense did the same thing in week one. The word may be out on Mayfield, but this is fixable. He will need to be quicker in going through his progressions and decision making.
Mayfield also needs to understand that Odell Beckham Jr. isn’t taking a quick slant 89 yards for a touchdown every drive. Mayfield will need to trust his check-downs and not try to hit a home run every play. This should be stressed in film study this week because David Njoku suffered a concussion in the first quarter due to the lack of trust. Njoku was initially open on a cross route, but Mayfield was looking for the big gain instead. Once Mayfield realized he had no open targets, he tried to dump it off to Njoku too late causing Njoku to be flipped on his head. At the very least, Mayfield has to throw the ball away in that situation.
Make no mistake, Myles Garrett is a certified beast. His ability to get to the quarterback with sheer power and will is unlike any other player I’ve seen. Garrett had a career-high three sacks Monday night which brings his total to a league-high five sacks. He said he wants to win the Defensive Player of the Year award and if he keeps this intensity, it’s an attainable goal.
However, that same intensity has resulted in too many meaningless penalties. Garrett had two offsides penalties and two roughing the passer penalties totaling 35 yards. One of the roughing the passer penalties ended the night for Trevor Siemian. The rest of the team totaled six penalties for 50 yards.
Garrett doesn’t want to be known as a dirty player. “I wasn’t trying to do anything illegal, I struck him just in case I can affect his throw or maybe even get the sack. I was just trying to play the game,” said Garrett in his postgame presser. Garrett doesn’t come off as a dirty player, but he has to understand patterns create one’s character. His patterns aren’t looking too clean this season.
Freddie Kitchens called the game like he doesn’t understand the strength of his players. The ball was snapped within five seconds of the play clock expiring far too often. Mayfield and the rest of the offense execute better when the offense is high tempo or no-huddle. This would’ve also helped Mayfield read the defense because they would not have had much time to disguise their pre-snap looks.
Nick Chubb should’ve been used more on first down. Seeing Kitchens consistently call passes on first down, then run on second and long was mind-boggling. Outside of the 19-yard touchdown run, Chubb only tallied 17 carries for 43 yards. Chubb and the run game need to be featured more in the offense and established early in drives. Maybe Kitchens has too many weapons to handle. What’s going to happen when Kareem Hunt returns in the second half of the season? Kitchens will need to reevaluate his strategy if he wants to make the Browns playoff contenders.
The Browns won, which is most important. The rest of the season won’t be as easy, which is why fans will be so hard on the team this week. The Los Angeles Rams will have their starting quarterback in Jared Goff and Aaron Donald should be up for Sunday. If the Browns play like they did Monday, the smart money takes the Rams and the points.
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