The Cleveland Browns road woes continue. It has now been three years and ten days since the Browns won an NFL football game away from FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns rally from 14 points down twice but fall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26-23 in overtime.
As always, there are good things that happened in Sunday’s game. Consequently there are things that did not according to plan. So what stood out in week seven? Here is the Browns versus Buccaneers edition of the good, bad and ugly.
A safety, two fumble recoveries and a pair of interceptions. The Browns defense increases its league lead in takeaways to 20. Four takeaways should be enough to win an NFL football game. Well we know that didn’t happen in week seven. Hopefully this will change going forward. Of course there are other factors the defense has to improve on to make it happen, say stopping the run.
After a disappointing two catch performance in week six against the Los Angeles Chargers, Jarvis Landry became a focal point in the offense against Tampa Bay. His number was called early and often. Landry finished with ten receptions for 97-yards. In addition his touchdown in the fourth quarter tied the game at 23. He was targeted 15 times in the game. Landry has to be the go to guy in the passing game until the young wide receivers learn how to play at the NFL level or another veteran wide receiver is brought in.
Nick Chubb performed well in his first NFL start. The rookie averaged four point four yards per carry. That’s better than what Carlos Hyde averaged in his six games with the Browns. 18 carries is probably less than what the coaching staff wanted, but trailing by 14 points in the fourth quarter limited the chances to run the football. Chubb rushed for 80-yards and a touchdown.
You can make an argument that Baker Mayfield does not belong in the good category in week seven. Mayfield had one costly turnover in the red zone in the second quarter. He fumbled the football after getting the yardage needed for a first down. The football rolled backyards and went out of bounds behind the yard to gain for the first down. Consequently, the play resulted in a turnover on downs. It took potential points off the scoreboard and eventually cost the Browns a victory.
Despite that mistake Mayfield had a solid day. Baker didn’t throw an interception. He led the Browns back from a 14-point deficit not once but twice. Mayfield finished the game 23 of 34 for 215 yards and two touchdown passes. In addition he ran for 43-yards on four carries. The 35-yard run in the fourth quarter kept the game tying drive alive.
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How many times do we have to talk about penalties hurting the Browns. Can we go a week without making it a topic of conversation? 14 penalties for 114 yards. Six of those penalties on the defense resulted in first downs for the Buccaneers. If you cut those numbers in half, Cleveland likely wins the game. It has to get cleaned up starting in week eight.
Young Wide Receivers:
Earlier in this piece I mentioned how the young wide receivers need to learn the NFL game. The Browns can’t become a winning football team if there is only one wide receiver a quarterback can rely on. Antonio Callaway had only one catch for 14-yards. He was only targeted two times. Damion Ratley hauled in all three of his targets for 23-yards. However he has to be able to run routes correctly and be able to get open and provide Mayfield another target besides Landry going forward. Breshad Perriman saw little action. He caught his only target if the game, a six yard reception. At least he’s perfect catching the football as a member of the Browns. He hasn’t dropped the ball, yet.
Overtime Game Number 4:
Seven games are in the books. Four of those games have gone to overtime. The Browns are 1-2-1 in those four games. The NFL record for overtime games played in one season is five. All of these overtime games maybe exciting for the fans and the league. However, the players feelings are not mutual. The nearly three extra quarters of game action is starting to take its toll on the young Browns.
The Browns have not won a road game since October 11, 2015 at Baltimore. That’s 1,106 days if my math is correct. And you thought the days between victories was long. In regards to games played on the road since the last win, that number stands at 24. So what has happened to the playoff talk from two weeks ago? Remember what the NFL stands for, Not For Long.
Hue Jackson’s Postgame Press Conference:
So is it finally time to end the Hue Jackson era here in Cleveland? It should have happened at the end of last season after going 0-16. Nevertheless Jackson is still the head coach of the Browns. He made that point pretty clear in his postgame press conference. How many times did he mention that? Jackson also mentioned that he wants to get more involved in the play calling on offense again. I thought a reason why he kept his job was to hand off play calling duties to the offensive coordinator in Todd Haley. It looks like Jackson wants to stick his hand in the cookie jar. So will he get caught and will it be the nail in the coffin in regards to his job as head coach of the Browns.
It could be a very interesting “Steelers Week” in Berea and not because of the game in Pittsburgh. How many other coaches in Cleveland witness their time end following a game in Pittsburgh. There should be a graveyard outside Heinz Field that only opens up for fired Browns head coaches who’s last game is against the black and gold.