A beaten up Cleveland Browns team lost to the Arizona Cardinals due to a combination of defensive breakdowns and being physically outmatched as a result of players being worn down or simply unavailable to play in the game because of injuries.
Both quarterback Baker Mayfield and wide receiver Odell Beckham left the game with shoulder injuries only to try to come back and play through them while running back Browns running back Kareem Hunt might be lost for the season. This was in a game where the Browns were missing both of their starting offensive tackles as well as star running back Nick Chubb.
Mayfield and Beckham may have shown their teammates their grit and toughness, but they didn't play consistently throughout the game. Mayfield fumbled the ball twice and threw a ghastly interception, attempting to hit Rashard Higgins, but missing badly. Beckham was unable to secure the second fourth down catch in back to back weeks.
The Cardinals were able to capitalize on every one of the Browns turnovers for points, often being positioned near the red zone.
Mayfield was able to lead scoring drives for touchdowns in the first half including a Hail Mary to Donovan Peoples-Jones, getting them to within 9 points of the lead. Unfortunately, that was all the points they would score in the game.
The defense was able to make stops this game and give the Browns offense chances to get into the game, but the consistent issue they are having revolves around breakdowns in coverage. For the second time in two games, the Browns were taken apart when the quarterback wasn't under siege by the defensive line.
Multiple wide receivers were left open for Murray to hit including an easy touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins. that appeared to break the Browns collective will.
The pressure is mounting on the Browns safeties, which have a significant amount of talent, but have not played anywhere near their ability. That is raising questions for defensive coordinator Joe Woods as this is not a new problem. It's one that occurred at an unacceptable rate last year as well.
With more talent and time to prepare, the issue was supposed to be solved. The Browns, now 3-3, have shown the ability to be one of the most talented defenses in the league, but they aren't giving themselves a chance to make plays on passes when they aren't in the right spots.
Players, coaching, wherever and however the blame falls, it must be solved if the Browns hope to have any meaningful success in the postseason.
For now, the Browns are a .500 team through six games with a beleaguering amount of injuries and a quick turnaround as they now have to play on Thursday against the Denver Broncos. It may get worse before it gets better, but the Browns have more than enough talent to overcome and run off a string of wins in the next couple months if they can get out of their own way on both sides of the ball.