The Cleveland Browns proved that the NFL is a week to week league on Sunday. A mixture of creative play calling and a healthy dose of the run game secured the Browns victory against the Baltimore Ravens. The Browns now sit atop the AFC North rankings at the quarter mark of the season.
Three Takeaways from the Cleveland Browns Victory
A lot of questions were answered about the Browns Sunday afternoon. Freddie Kitchens dialed up Nick Chubb early and often against the Ravens top rush defense. Speaking of the offense, this wide receiving corps is one of the best in the NFL. While there were concerns regarding the injuries to the secondary, Steve Wilks had the backups prepared. The defense frustrated Lamar Jackson all day and forced three total turnovers.
Nick Chubb is a Beast
The Ravens came into the game as one of the top defensive teams against the run. Kitchens and the offensive staff had other plans for the Ravens Sunday. They fed Chubb early and often. Chubb ended the game with 183 total yards and three touchdowns, nearly outscoring the Ravens by himself outside of a garbage-time touchdown. Chubb officially took the air out of the Ravens and fans when he ran off an 88-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. It was time to beat the Baltimore traffic at that point.
This may be a bit premature, but Chubb is definitely one of the top 5 running backs in the game. Sunday’s game solidified this for many people. Not only can he run hard, but Chubb can also catch the ball and pick up the blitz. He is a game-defining back and there aren’t many in the league. If Kitchens learns to run the offense through Chubb, the Browns may live up to the offseason expectations.
The Receivers are Legit
We all know how great Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are, but there are many more weapons on this offense. While Landry had a career day with eight catches for 167 yards, Ricky Seals-Jones made some key plays, including his early touchdown. Seals-Jones is quickly making a name for himself in the absence of David Njoku. I doubt the Browns have a problem with two really good tight ends battling for the top position.
Just imagine how scary this offense can really become when Antonio Callaway and Rashard Higgins return. Higgins was a favorite target of Baker Mayfield last season, so the chemistry is already there. Callaway is a speedster who can burn DBs deep. There aren’t many teams who have the secondary to match up with all of these weapons. Mayfield will breakout toward the middle of the season once the group is healthy.
Browns Have a Top-Tier Defense
Steve Wilks has this defense clicking on all cylinders. The defense was down starters Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams, and Morgan Burnett, but it didn’t matter. The gameplan was to force Lamar Jackson into making reads and throwing the ball. Wilks mentioned in his Friday presser that he would watch game film of Colin Kaepernick to help with preparation for Jackson’s ability to break runs. That preparation paid off big time as the Browns were able to hold Jackson to 66 rush yards and tally four sacks. Not to mention that the Browns forced the first three Ravens turnovers all season.
The Browns have been playing a soft coverage in the secondary the past few weeks with the starters being injured. While not ideal, at least it isn’t the Gregg Williams defense that looks more like a punt return formation. Still, this defense is ranked eighth in the league in total yards allowed at 215 yards per game. Expect that ranking to go up throughout the season as the Ward and Williams’ hamstrings heal. Their returns will also lead to more coverage sacks for Myles Garrett and crew.
On to the Next
The Browns travel west to play the San Francisco 49ers next Monday night. The 49ers have shown their resilience after beating the Pittsburgh Steelers while surrendering five turnovers. The Browns have a tough task ahead of them, but if they play as well as they did against the Ravens, bank on another Browns victory.
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