To Do List: 4 Areas For Browns to Address Heading Into Game Against Washington
The Cleveland Browns, having played their game on Thursday, got to watch their week three opponent, Washington, take on the Arizona Cardinals while the NFL as a whole was devastated by injuries.
After watching film over the weekend, the team is ready to take the practice field on Monday and there are four areas of focus this week.
1. Get healthy or at least as healthy as possible
The Browns defeated the Bengals despite missing five starters on defense in addition to missing Jack Conklin and David Njoku on offense. The defense performed like a team missing five starters. Adrian Clayborn left the game with a hip injury as well.
Conklin dressed but didn't play, so he may be the closest to recovery. The team has suggested that they may get players back including Greedy Williams, Kevin Johnson and Mack Wilson this week, which would help an ailing defense.
Even on a simpler level, playing two games in 11 days is brutal and the players that are healthy can just use the time to get back to 100 percent. Jedrick Wills left the first game with a shin injury and played against the Cincinnati Bengals, so he's an example of someone playing who is probably happy to get additional time to recuperate.
2. Address the coverage breakdowns on defense
Undoubtedly some of this comes down to talent. The Browns have been forced to play guys on defense that they didn't foresee providing major contributions.
With 10 days of preparation, the Browns may be able to get Ronnie Harrison up to speed to help on the back end. M.J. Stewart has been active, but hasn't played much. Whether that's due to recovery from his injury, matchups or simply not being they want him to be in terms of confidence in the scheme, that may change heading to Washington.
B.J. Goodson missed a significant amount of time due to a personal issue at the end of camp. Sione Takitaki has been awful in coverage. The time they have might be able to get them more confident in coverage or they simply may need to come out of the game in obvious passing situations.
Olivier Vernon missed the Bengals game with an abdominal issue. Clayborn's injury has been called a strained hip, but he is receiving treatment and plans to play through it.
3. Improve special teams coverage
Particularly on kick coverage, which was a point of pride in 2019, the Browns have been ghastly so far in 2020. The Bengals returned the first kickoffs against the Browns to the 40.
Mike Priefer wants the kicker to kick it high and place the ball inside the five or basically right on the goal line and force the opponent to return it. Their primary goal is to stop the return inside the 25, where a touchback would start them, but they also want to potentially cause a turnover.
Currently, they aren't doing either and opponents are getting excellent starting field position. If they can't fix it, they are better off driving the ball out of the back of the end zone.
4. The offense builds on the success against Cincinnati
The Browns offense started clicking on Thursday. They ran the ball really well and Baker Mayfield was able to connect with receivers on time and in the flow of the offense. The offensive line has been really impressive, even with Chris Hubbard in at right tackle.
The Bengals game helps boost their confidence that the offense works, that they can run it effectively and when they get going, they can look great. Washington's defense will be a test, but these 10 days can provide a nice runway to build on that success and have the offense be the driving force of this team of this team as it needs to be.