Another week, another disappointing showing from the Cleveland Browns; as the season is slipping away, what can they take away from this primetime loss to the Baltimore Ravens?
We are through 12 weeks of the season and there are still no answers for this Cleveland Browns team. Wide receivers cannot get open, the quarterback's accuracy and eyes are all over the map, and the offensive line cannot stay healthy.
Where do the Browns go from here? There is no good answer to that question. However, this performance did spring a few thoughts about this football team in Cleveland.
Can't blame that one on the defense
Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods and the Browns' defense cannot even take even an ounce of blame for the loss last night. They held Lamar Jackson to under 230 total yards of offense, creating four turnovers, and getting the 2019 MVP off the field on all but one drive of the game.
The pass rushers all had great games in Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney, and Takk McKinley. Pressure on the Ravens' quarterback was early and often. Denzel Ward continues to play at a Pro Bowl level, and Greg Newsome looks like a top-three defensive rookie in all of the NFL.
Consistency is needed from this unit, but surrendering just 26 points over the past two weeks is good enough to help any other team get to 2-0 in that span. With Jackson and the Ravens back on the schedule after the bye week, the Browns will need a repeat performance or their season is most certainly over.
List of draft needs continues to grow
It started out with just wide receiver and edge rusher, then the safeties started to under-perform, and then the defensive tackle depth failed to step up. And now the Browns have a starting right tackle with an out in his contract that cannot stay healthy.
More likely than not, the Browns will not create a need where there currently is not one. This means they will bring Jack Conklin back and bank on his previously healthy career. However, with the struggles of converted defensive tackle James Hudson and current backup Blake Hance, the Browns could add offensive tackle back into their draft needs in the top-100 of the 2022 NFL Draft.
It is apparent the Browns' top need continues to be wide receiver, and that should be far more evident after this game against the Ravens. Pass rusher may or may not be a need pending the contract negotiations of Jadeveon Clowney and Takk McKinley (who should both be approached about new deals). Safety grows as a need although the trio of John Johnson III, Grant Delpit, and Ronnie Harrison played one of their better games over recent weeks.
Adjust your draft rankings accordingly.
The legend of Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah grows
The huge appeal of Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah after he was selected in the 2021 NFL Draft was how they could deploy him against the speed of the Ravens in the run game. And he did not disappoint in his first career game against the division rival.
Playing sideline-to-sideline, launching downhill with a quick trigger, and spying Jackson and providing pressure against the pass, Owusu-Koramoah was all over the field for the Browns' defense. He finished the game with 12 total tackles, one tackle for loss, a half of a sack, and an additional hit on the quarterback.
The bright spots are getting hard to recognize as the season continues to slip away, but Owusu-Koramoah has certainly been one. Him and Anthony Walker both played well to be completely honest. For a rookie linebacker, he has the instincts of a ten-year veteran.
He will continue to be a crucial piece and the Browns will need a repeat performance after the bye week.
It's only going to get worse from here
That last drive was evident enough: teams do not fear the Browns' passing attack to the point of giving it no respect. The last drive of the game, the last drive, the Ravens came out in press man coverage with either one or zero safeties deep. They blitzed Mayfield and forced him to make a play. And he didn't.
Mayfield's eyes and feet continue to be out of sync when he is forced to come off of his primary, he continues to tuck his eyes outside of structure with no hope of making a play downfield. He played fine yesterday, but that's as far as one can go with his performance. Adequate.
No tight ends or wide receivers can separate and Mayfield is forced to throw into tight windows when faced with man coverage. The Ravens frequently brought eight and nine into the box and other opposing teams will continue to do so. The run game will continue to stall out as a result of the lack of a passing threat.
Teams are going to blitz the Browns at a high rate and force Mayfield to make plays from the pocket while betting their defensive backs are more than capable or locking down his playmakers. There is no good answer as Week 13 now approaches.
It's only going to get worse from here.