Since tallying 42 points against the Oakland Raiders in Week 4, the Cleveland Browns‘ offense has gone stale. Sure, they’ve taken on two of the league’s better teams in the past two weeks. Sure, the receiving corps has suddenly become the walking wounded.
Still, Cleveland is suddenly struggling to score, and it’s becoming quite frustrating.
Even more upsetting is the fact the team is partly to blame for the offense significantly cooling down. The Browns have a handful of weapons they could be using on a weekly basis, only they don’t seem too interested in doing so. As a result, points are now becoming tough to come by.
Admittedly, some of the reasons Cleveland went from scoring 42 points in Week 3 to a combined 26 in the past two games are beyond control. The team can’t help it if wideouts are getting hurt at what feels like an hourly basis. It also doesn’t have the benefit of playing a laughably porous Oakland defense every week.
Still, the Browns aren’t exactly helping themselves when it comes to getting the offense out of the mud.
For one, they haven’t put too much effort into adjusting their approach, regardless of the lack of success. Just look at this past week’s showing against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Cleveland spent much of this past weekend’s game trying (and, for the most part, failing) to dial up a big play through the air. Either due to solid coverage from the Chargers or constant drops from the wideouts, very little was working for the Browns downfield.
Meanwhile, despite the success seen with shorter routes, Cleveland didn’t seem very interested in adjusting. The team continued depending on rookie Baker Mayfield to make a big throw, having him drop back for an alarmingly high 46 pass attempts.
While you can argue the Chargers running away with the game forced the Browns’ hand, the offensive approach was essentially the same throughout the entire day, even before the scoreboard became lopsided.
Cleveland’s refusal to adapt isn’t limited to just the play-calling. Despite the lack of scoring over the past two weeks, the team still seems astoundingly uninterested in utilizing two of its biggest offensive play-makers.
One would think an easy solution to Cleveland’s scoring drought would be to start getting running backs Duke Johnson and Nick Chubb more involved in the game-plan. However, even though both have proven capable of ripping off a big gain, the Browns have yet to even remotely consider this option.
Part of the reason Cleveland saw more success on short-yardage plays this past Sunday was because a good portion of them included Johnson. The fourth-year back was second on the team in receiving yards, collecting 73 against the Chargers to go along with his team-high 36 yards on the ground.
Despite this, despite him averaging 18 yards per carry and 18.25 yards per reception during the game, Johnson only received the ball six times on Sunday. It’s a bit of a running theme this season (pun partially intended).
Likewise, here’s something which has happened once in each of the past three weeks – coach Hue Jackson has insisted he needs to get Chubb more carries. Here’s what happened in each of the following games – Chubb received exactly three carries.
Even though the rookie is currently averaging 10.8 yards per carry on the season, he still gets barely any attention on Sundays. For what it’s worth, Jackson again insisted yesterday that Cleveland needs to get Chubb more carries, so I’m sure we can expect three more hand-offs this weekend before he gets benched.
The Browns have two powerful weapons in their backfield, and they continue ignoring them. They do so despite both showing an ability to rip off a ton of yardage. They do so despite the fact their receivers are either hurt or can’t catch a football. They do so despite asking Mayfield, who was clearly flustered on Sunday, to continue dialing up deep passes to said ineffective wideouts.
At the end of the day, this doesn’t come off as an inability to make adjustments or to incorporate Johnson and Chubb, but instead an outright refusal to do so. Instead of doing something, anything to help solve the problems on offense, the Browns keep running with the same ineffective approach and expecting it to eventually work.
Sounds a bit like the definition of insanity, doesn’t it?