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4 Thoughts on Cleveland Browns Loss to Cardinals

Coming out of a disappointing loss against the Arizona Cardinals, the Cleveland Browns have some difficult questions to answer including when it comes to the presence of Odell Beckham Jr. and the role of Ronnie Harrison.

It's time for the Cleveland Browns to look themselves in the mirror as they leave more questions than answers at this point in the season.

The Cleveland Browns came out and flat out laid an egg in front of their hometown against the Arizona Cardinals. Now with a record of 3-3 with two more games of a tough stretch of play, there are too many questions to be asked of this banged up roster.

The game was ugly for both the offense and defense, but there were a few things that stood out most pressing about the beatdown experienced at FirstEnergy Stadium.

1. About Odell Beckham Jr. and Baker Mayfield...

It no longer matters whose fault it is and whose it isn't. There is a good deal of blame to go around to be honest. It doesn't matter if the offense is better with Odell Beckham Jr. or without him. 

We can talk about it as much as we want for the last eleven games of the season, but none of that matters anymore. The only thing that is apparent is that a divorce between the Browns and Beckham Jr. is near.

It's a shame the Browns will not be able to recoup much of anything of the first round pick, top end safety in Jabril Peppers, or an aging guard they traded. Maybe, just maybe, the Browns can prop up their asset a bit more this season before inevitably getting a day-three pick if they are lucky (or pray some team is still open to trading a day-two pick).

Beckham still has the juice. He gets open often. But just when you start to advocate for him to get his touches he drops a crucial pass. The back-and-forth is tiring. I no longer want to go to custody hearings, just get the divorce over with.

2. Wide receivers to watch for in the 2022 NFL Draft

If (or when) the Browns do part with Beckham Jr., wide receiver rises back to the top of their team needs. In fact, Rashod Bateman was a popular pick a year ago, and one the Browns passed up on. This is the year the Browns can no longer pass on wide receiver early in the draft.

The defense is playing putrid right now, but the young pieces and talent exist to the point where there is not much of a need. Perhaps edge rusher if both Jadeveon Clowney and Takk McKinley find new homes with big pay days this offseason (can I introduce you to Michigan's David Ojabo?).

Rashard Higgins will once again hit the free agent market without much production thus far, Jarvis Landry is coming off his worst season in the NFL and has a massive price tag. Even if Donovan Peoples-Jones continues to develop, the Browns are going to need a top-end target. Anthony Schwartz has proven to need time to develop to be anything outside of a gadget player, and the same goes for Demetric Felton.

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Of course the Ohio State duo of Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson are going to get buzz as the 2022 NFL Draft approaches, but there may not be a better fit for this Browns' offense than the playmaker found at the University of Arkansas. 

Listed at 6-3 and 230 pounds, Treylon Burks is not just a vertical threat, but has proven to be a dynamic athlete in the open field as well. An extension of the run game, a threat down the field, and an overall true X receiver, Burks to the Browns is a daydream that could become a reality.

3. Backend woes and Ronnie Harrison

The backend woes of the Cleveland secondary have now struck two weeks in a row. When digging deeper it has little to do with John Johnson III wielding the green dot, and has little to do with anything that Joe Woods is calling. 

Two weeks in a row, the blown coverages are coming when the Browns are playing quarters, and two weeks in a row they fall onto one safety who has a tendency to begin to hunt crossers instead of remaining disciplined to his zone over the top.

Ronnie Harrison needs to take a lap. Last week against a 3x1 look, a look where Greedy Williams is responsible for "poaching" the single side receiver in man coverage, Harrison also chased that dig route that Williams was assigned to. Today he once again abandoned his deep quarter to chase a crosser, leaving DeAndre Hopkins wide open where he should have been standing. 

Pull the plug and start Grant Delpit opposite Johnson III. Delpit and Johnson III have had their woes as well, but the busts are unacceptable. Delpit has a significant amount of backend range that Harrison does not have as well. Keep giving Harrison reps in Big Nickel and Dime looks, but he's proven to fall to temptation underneath far too much for a team that runs as much quarters as the Browns do.

4. Offensive inefficiencies

Whether the truth is ready to be faced or not, the Browns do not have the personnel offensively to come back from behind. This applies both to the scoreboard and the chains. Even looking back at the game a week ago against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Browns' offense was put in a bind when faced with third and longs, and when behind on the scoreboard in crunch time.

Despite a 42 point outing, the Browns failed to pick up first downs on five third and long situations. The play calls on such third downs are a bit telling as well, but that is for another time. This week, the Browns failed to convert on another five third and five-or-more situations.

Looking at the two games that came down to the wire this year as well, the Browns have been incapable of moving the ball in an efficient manner down the stretch. Even this week against the Cardinals, every drive felt like pulling teeth once the Browns fell down early.

Yes, your offensive line is extremely battered, but the less the Browns can use the run game as a crutch, the less success this offense has found. At this rate, teams are going to begin to stack the box once again, play tight coverage in single-high looks, and force the Browns to threaten them over the top. 

READ MORE: Arizona Cardinals Loss is Browns Season in a Nutshell