The Cleveland Browns, with plenty of advantages, were able to take care of business and defeat the Washington Football Team at home. It wasn't pretty, but largely mistake free football put the Browns in position to punish Washington for theirs, enabling a 34-20 victory, moving the team to 2-1.
Baker Mayfield showed growth
Washington was able to cause havoc up front and stop Nick Chubb early in the game. Not hugely surprising, Washington wanted to put Baker Mayfield in obvious passing situations to pin their ears back and run the ball.
On the back end of their defense, they were taking away deep passing options, forcing the Browns to work underneath.
Mayfield was pretty effective. He was patient in willingly taking what the defense was giving him for the most part. His reads were excellent, though he missed on a few throws. Most notably a pair of out routes and then attempting to go to the left corner of the end zone with pressure in his face to Odell Beckham. Had the ball been driven to where he wanted it, Beckham scores easily. Unfortunately, he had to become a defensive back and knock down the pass.
The results weren't overwhelming. They converted a 4th-and-7 to Austin Hooper and had a 3rd-and-5 dropped by Harrison Bryant, forcing them to kick the field goal. However, he didn't make mistakes, he protected the football and was able to control field position.
When the Browns running game isn't hitting on all cylinders, Mayfield still has to be able to move the offense. There were certainly times that it stalled, including the entire third quarter, but he was able to make good reads and execute to generate yardage and put the Browns in position to score points and win the game.
The stats that tell the story of the game - Turnovers and points off turnovers.
The Browns did not turnover the ball in this game. Even if the offense isn't operating at high efficiency, protecting the ball and avoiding turnovers always gives the team a chance. The Browns were behind at two different points in this game, but that was a big reason why they stayed in it.
The Football Team turned the ball over five times. Three interceptions and two fumbles, including one at the end of the first half with no time left on the clock.
The Browns scored 24 points off of three interceptions and a fumble recovery. Washington only scored 20 points in the game, period. It's pretty simple. The Browns didn't make mistake, but capitalized when Washington did and that allowed them to take control of the game in the fourth quarter.
Wyatt Teller kick out blocks are undefeated.
It seemed like every big Browns run was to the left behind Teller kicking someone out to the sideline. Nick Chubb had multiple big runs and at least one of his touchdowns off of this wide trap.
He also did a great job leading to the right and as this game wore on, the Browns running game took over. Undoubtedly, when Washington lost both Chase Young and Matt Ioaniddis, that changed the landscape of the game, but Teller has been impressive so far through this season.
So often, if trying to figure out where the Browns are running and running well, simply locate Wyatt Teller. He's likely a major factor.
Nick Chubb is on a different level than Kareem Hunt.
Hunt is a nice weapon and made some nice contributions in this game, but Chubb is a star. If the game is on the line, there's no question who the Browns should want on the field between the two. Hunt's versatility can be extremely valuable and that allowed the Browns to score their first touchdown, but Chubb's vision is outstanding and his physical talent is unmatched.
Defense Continues to Struggle
Myles Garrett and Sheldon Richardson aside, the Browns continue to struggle with missed assignments and some really basic mistakes that are getting them killed.
The biggest frustration is how many poor angles are being taken on tackling angles. The linebackers are the guiltiest group but the safeties are doing this as well. Particularly rolling laterally, defenders are taught to track the back hip of ball carriers. And so many times, they aren't doing it and ending up flying past ball carriers, allowing them to get a ton of extra yardage.
In the secondary, there are either massive miscommunications or the guys playing simply do not trust each other to execute. Haskins had a pair of touchdown passes and both of them were wide open. The defensive line took control as the game progressed, but it continues to be a major problem.
Karl Joseph had a much better game, personally, and he showcased his impact tackling ability on a number of critical situations.
Nevertheless, they created five turnovers. So while they got gouged, they were able to get Dwayne Haskins to beat himself.
Jedrick Wills looked like a rookie.
He wasn't bad, but he did get beat for a sack and had a couple false start penalties. To his credit, he got over it and played through it and got better. Montez Sweat is an incredible athlete and was fantastic in this game, stepping up when Chase Young went out with a groin injury.
Chase Young went out with the groin.
Matt Ioannidis went out with an arm injury.
Jojo Natson went down with a knee.
Denzel Ward came out, but nothing has been announced about that to this point, whether it was aggravating the groin or something else.
Ron Rivera conceded.
With over a minute remaining in a two-score game and multiple timeouts left, Washington basically kneeled. They ran the ball and let the clock run out. Dwayne Haskins needs all the experience he can get and the game was still in doubt, but Rivera didn't even allow the offense to try.
He noted after the game that this team is trying to build something. That decision doesn't seem like it is building any confidence. A big play, a quick score and they are an onside kick away from potentially tying the game. If not, Haskins gets to practice a two-minute drill with a young offense. Rivera passed.
Browns play in Dallas next week.
The Browns, now sitting at 2-1, are going to have to travel to play at the Jerry Dome when they take on the Dallas Cowboys. They will have fans in the stand and depending on the outcome against the Seattle Seahawks, they may be in a pretty desperate spot.
They are 1-1 heading into this matchup after the Atlanta Falcons vomited up a win, thoroughly washed it off and handed it to the Cowboys last week. If the Seahawks beat them, they will be 1-2. The best thing for the Cowboys is the NFC East is garbage.
Washington is 1-2. The New York Giants are 0-3. The Philadelphia Eagles are 0-2-1. The Cowboys only have to win their division, but they have not played good football.
That offense is a nightmare matchup for the Browns. Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott in the backfield with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and rookie CeeDee Lamb as his receivers. Given how the Browns secondary performed against Washington, which was basically Terry McLaurin and some guys they rounded up before the game, Prescott might put up numbers akin to what K.J. Costello did for his alma mater, Mississippi State in Baton Rouge.
It's a big test and a bad matchup for the Browns.