CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Lamar Jackson and the Ravens tried to give Sunday night’s game away.
The Browns, especially Kevin Stefanski and the offense, weren’t interested.
Here are our Top Takeaways from a maddening 16-10 loss in Baltimore.
1. The Browns head into the bye week with their fifth loss in eight games and after falling to 6-6 and their playoff chances are back on thin ice.
2. Kevin Stefanski better hope that a bye week evaluation and reset can salvage the offense, which has completely gone in the tank. Six times in the last eight games the Browns have failed to score more than 17 points. Putrid doesn’t even begin to adequately describe his offense right now.
3. Stefanski’s game plan was ineffective Sunday night. He essentially conceded to the Ravens, who came in with the second-best run defense allowing 88.6 yards per game, that Baker Mayfield was going to have to win the game because he wasn’t going to even try to run with any regularity. Bad decision by Stefanski. The 2020 NFL Coach of the Year is 0-3 against John Harbaugh, who is now 23-4 against Cleveland.
4. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt combined to carry 15 times for 36 yards. Chubb’s longest run went for 3 and Hunt’s was 9. Ballgame.
5. Can’t blame Joe Woods or the defense for this one. They intercepted Lamar Jackson four times, but the offense scored just 3 points off them. Embarrassing. Inexcusable. That just can not happen.
6. It was a big ask, but we see so many great quarterbacks do it, yet Mayfield doesn’t win games with the ball in his hands and less than 2 minutes on the clock. Mayfield has had the ball with a chance to win three times in 2021 and is 0-3. He hasn’t even come within a whiff of leading a game winning drive in the closing minute. That’s a problem. Tom Brady does it. Aaron Rodgers does it. Patrick Mahomes does it. Lamar Jackson too. Mayfield does not. Regardless of how healthy he is or isn’t, Mayfield has a long way to go to reach that elite level and until he does the Browns are going to keep spinning their wheels in mediocrity.
7. While Mayfield picked it up in the second half – he went 8-15 for 119 yards and a touchdown after halftime, the Browns need him to either play better or sit down because he simply is not getting it done. Pick whatever excuse you want – he’s still playing hurt, Stefanski’s play calling is substandard at best, receivers are not getting open, or the offensive line isn’t blocking well enough, but it’s on Mayfield to elevate those around him and he’s not doing it because, frankly, he can’t.
8. In five games since returning in Week 8, Mayfield is completing just 56.1% of his passes for 929 yards with five touchdowns, three interceptions, two fumbles and he’s been sacked 11 times. The Browns are 2-3 in those games and are averaging 16.2 points per game. How is Mayfield, who is 2-5 in his last 7 starts, helping the Browns win games? He’s not.
9. The excitement over the return of right tackle Jack Conklin lasted less than 10 minutes Sunday night. Conklin suffered a knee injury with 6:08 remaining in the opening quarter. He had to be helped to the sideline before being carted to the locker room. He was quickly ruled out for the remainder of the night and likely will miss more time. His loss was felt the remainder of the night.
10. Happy Birthday Jarvis Landry. Landry caught a season-high 6 passes for 111 yards, yet they still can’t get him a touchdown through the air.
11. David Njoku’s touchdown catch was a gift. Replays showed the ball hit the ground and bounce into his lap on the slide, but the evidence was not clear enough to overturn the original call. Njoku caught three passes for 35 yards and the score. He also had a drop.
12. Outside of Landry, the Browns don’t have much in the way of explosion at receiver. The guy they had there defected to the Rams and caught a 54-yard touchdown for them Sunday at Green Bay.
13. Donovan Peoples-Jones had a rough start. Peoples-Jones was unable to haul in a pass while going up for it over the middle or get open on a go route on third down on the opening drive. He only caught 2 of 5 targets for 10 yards.
14. The last three minutes of the first quarter were a three-ring circus and Stefanski as well as special teams coordinator Mike Priefer are directly to blame. Even after having to call a timeout because they had 12 on the field while the Ravens lined up to fake a punt and then come out of that timeout with 12 players on the field with Jackson set to go for it on fourth down was embarrassing. The Browns had to run an 11th man on the field for a kickoff after Justin tucker’s 53-yard field goal as well.
15. Regardless of how you feel about roughing the quarterback flags, if you sneeze on a QB you will be flagged. Two more of those Sunday night for the Browns defense and they should know better even if the NFL is trying to legislate against the laws of physics.
16. Chase McLaughlin missed wide left from 46. He banked in his second try from 46 off the left upright to cut the Ravens lead in half, 6-3 with 1:02 left in the first half. After starting the season a perfect 9-9 he has struggled in recent weeks.
17. Myles Garrett tied Reggie Camp (1984) for the official franchise record for sacks in a single season with his 14th take down of the year on Baltimore’s opening series. Garrett had a tackle-for-loss and pass breakup on back-to-back plays to blow up a Ravens possession.
18. Apparently a vocal minority of fans got their pants in a bunch over Garrett shaking Jackson’s hand after he threw an incredible 13-yard touchdown while being chased back beyond the 30-yard line. Garrett showing an opponent respect for making a ridiculous play, is the least of the Browns problems right now.
19. Poor Jadeveon Clowney. He spent all night chasing Jackson around and only got a deflected pass and a single QB hit in the box score for his efforts on top of his four tackles.
20. There are five games remaining against the 8-3 Ravens, 6-5 Raiders, 9-3 Packers, 5-5-1 Steelers and 7-4 Bengals. The Browns have never, ever won five in a row in the expansion era, and that streak, which dates back to the 1994 season, is pretty much a lock to continue.
21. The most painful 30 seconds of the NBC Sunday Night Football telecast came when they showed the AFC North division championships. The Steelers have won 9, the Ravens 6, the Bengals 4, and 0 for the Browns. The graphic included a CGI jester dressed in a Browns uniform. Forget the Super Bowl, the Browns can’t even win their division, and both droughts will roll on into 2022 too.