After an upsetting loss during week six of the NFL season against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Cleveland Browns look to bounce back and regain traction amongst the AFC North as they take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, October 21.
The Browns wound up losing 38-14 against the Chargers after failing to not only stop Phillip Rivers, who had 207 yards and two touchdowns but also failed to stop the running game as Melvin Gordon had 132 yards and three touchdowns.
Rookie Baker Mayfield was sacked five times against the Chargers defense. After the game concluded and the team headed back to Cleveland to prepare for the week seven matchup.
“I think it is a lot of getting back to the fundamentals,” Mayfield said “Making sure that I do great on my progression reads and then on the shots that we are taking, if they are not there, getting off of them quick and getting the ball out. It goes back to getting it into the playmakers’ hands. I talked about that. Now, it is time to actually do it, getting it into their hands and letting them work.”
Mayfield has been a solid young player for the Browns recently but has had trouble getting time to make throws downfield with multiple injuries coming from the offensive line. Not only has the Browns offensive line allowed quarterback Baker Mayfield to be sacked five times in back-to-back weeks, but currently starting center JC Tretter is dealing with a high ankle sprain.
“it happened on the quarterback sneak,” Tretter said. “One of the D tackles kind of just dove in, pinned my foot and then kind of just got twisted underneath everybody.”
However, Tretter believes he has the ability to play on Sunday.
“I feel confident going out there tomorrow and running around,” Tretter said. “We will tape it up and we will see what it feels like, and we will make a good decision. I still feel confident about playing on Sunday. I played with it during the game for the rest of it, and it feels better than it did at that point.”
The Browns are hopeful that WR Jarvis Landry can have a dominant performance on the field after taking part in extra sessions with the team.
Landry currently leads the team with 392 receiving yards and one touchdown during the season. However, drops have been a big issue at this point in Landry’s career compared to recent years. The Buccaneers secondary has given up nearly 400 yards through the air so far this season.
“it is definitely a game that we can take a step forward as far as being in the right direction as an offense,” Landry said “Those guys are going to come to play. They are not just going to lay down and let us throw the ball and let us run the ball at will. We have to make sure that we come to execute. We have to play well, as well.”
Keeping the focus on the Buccaneers, head coach Dirk Koetter was asked about Baker Mayfield.
“To be honest, I really did not look at those quarterbacks coming out last year because we were not going to take a quarterback, so I was focused on other positions. I definitely watched him starting in the preseason and as he became the starter and played in Cleveland. This guy is a really good football player. I love the way he throws it out of the pocket. I know some people are comparing him to (Seahawks QB) Russell Wilson. Just my eye, I would say he is more like (Saints QB) Drew Brees in our division, a guy who might not have ideal height, but he can really spin it out of the pocket. He gets the ball out quick and definitely has an energy about him that that team has responded to.”
Defensive end Carl Nassib had a dominant performance against the Eagles for his first professional start. During the game, Nassib recorded one sack, three tackles, and a defended pass. The Browns, however, waived Nassib on September 2. He was claimed by the Buccaneers from waivers the next day.
Koetter was asked what Nassib has brought to the Buccaneers after being a member of the Browns. Koetter said, “ He has brought a sound investment strategy on how we should invest our money (laughter).”
Both teams have talent offensively, but the most exciting matchup could be Browns rookie Denzel Ward against Buccaneers veterans Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson.
Jackson currently leads the Buccaneers in receiving yards with 501 yards and three touchdowns on just 21 receptions. Evans, on the other hand, has 484 yards and three touchdowns on 33 receptions this season.
It will be a tough matchup for Ward. So far this season (his first) he has managed 28 tackles and three interceptions.
Koetter explained his feelings on Ward matching up with both Jackson and Evans by saying, “that will be good. Because I was not looking at quarterbacks when we were picking in the draft, Ward was one of the guys that we were looking at heavily in the draft. He went even earlier than we could get to him, but I think that he is a terrific cover corner with really good ball skills, capable of matching a No. 1 if they choose to do that. I think he has come into the league as a rookie and he is off to a fast start, just like you would think based on his college career. Impressive.”
Robert Wykowski is a Cleveland Browns writer for Full Press Coverage. So follow him on twitter @WykowskiRobert