In The Dawg House
It's a new year in the NFL. But will it be the same old Browns?
To open the 2020 NFL season, Baker Mayfield & Co. suffered a devastating loss to the Baltimore Ravens on the road, 36-8. And at times, it didn't necessarily feel that close.
The loss dropped Cleveland to 1-20-1 in season openers since 1999, and the 32-point defeat marked the worst for the franchise since 2015.
For the second year in a row, a Browns first-year head coach was blown out in his debut, with former coach Freddie Kitchens losing 43-13 to the Titans in 2019.
In fact, a Browns coach hasn’t won their first career start with the club since Bud Carson against the Steelers in 1989, which was 12 coaches ago.
None of that is great. But according to Colin Cowherd, the game starts and ends at the QB position, and the loss falls on the shoulders of Baker Mayfield.
“You can keep changing head coaches, Baker Mayfield’s the same guy. He continues to think he’s way more athletic than he is ... Baker’s still wildly inconsistent. His accuracy – which was a strength at Oklahoma – is all over the map."
Mayfield went 21-of-39 for 189 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception on Sunday. He completed just 53.8% of his passes, marking the second-lowest completion percentage of any QB who played on Sunday, behind the Chargers' Tyrod Taylor.
He averaged a measly 4.8 yards per pass attempt in Week 1, worst in the league heading into Monday night, and had the second-worst passer rating (65.0) on the day, trailing only the Dolphins' Ryan Fitzpatrick.
And as Colin describes, Mayfield's problems only got worse as he failed to establish any chemistry with his top WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Against the Ravens, Beckham caught only 3 passes for 22 yards.
Beckham committed an offensive face mask penalty on his first touch, his next reception was negated for stepping on the sideline and failing to re-establish position in bounds, and then he had his most memorable target, a crucial dropped pass on third-and-2 in the red zone with the Browns trailing only 17-6 late in the second half.
So the passing game, at least between Mayfield and Beckham, doesn't seem like a solution. Instead, Colin argues, the answer is perhaps to run the rock.
The franchise averaged 5.11 yards per carry Sunday, good for fifth-best in Week 1. They even out-gained Baltimore in rushing yards with 138 to the Raven's 107 yards..
Despite limited action, Chubb boasted an efficient 6.0 yards per carry against an elite defense, highlighted by a 29-yard run.
Since being selected in the second-round of the 2018 draft, Chubb has established himself as one of the league's most-effective rushers, ranking first in yards per carry (5.1) and second in yards after catch (2.3) among 25 backs with at least 300 carries during that time span.
And Chubb isn't alone in the Cleveland backfield.
Kareem Hunt was the club's leading rusher with 13 carries for 72 yards on Sunday.
Cleveland will face the Bengals at home on Sept. 19, and looking to bounce back from the Week 1 loss, the Browns might want to heed Colin's advice.
In year three of his career with the franchise, Baker won't be thrown any bones if he continues to come up short.