In perhaps the most exhilarating contest of the young NFL season, the Cleveland Browns traveled to Los Angeles over the weekend and took on the Chargers in front of a crowd that contained many Cleveland fans. However, the Chargers battled through the noise en route to a 47-42 thrilling victory over the Browns. Both clubs benefitted greatly from the play of their respective quarterbacks, as Justin Herbert threw for almost 400 yards while Baker Mayfield eclipsed 300. However, it was the playmaking abilities of Mike Williams for the Chargers that ultimately made the final difference in Sunday’s shootout.
A majority of Cleveland’s breakdowns in coverage on Sunday came without the services of their two starting cornerbacks, Denzel Ward and rookie Greg Newsome. Newsome came into Sunday on the inactive list for the second straight week, while Ward was forced to exit early with a neck issue. This put the Browns in quite the bind, as they were forced to turn to former undrafted free agent AJ Green for reps at cornerback. Greedy Williams filled in admirably for Newsome once again as he led Cleveland with ten total tackles on the afternoon.
One of the major takeaways from Sunday’s game for Browns fans is can Mayfield lead his team down the field in a two-minute offense when they absolutely need a touchdown. While Mayfield has successfully done this at multiple points in his career before this season, the NFL is very much a what have you done for me lately type of league. So far this year, Cleveland has been able to move the ball through the air when they have the running game to play off of. This means that the Browns are at their best offensively when they can mix in the run with passing plays keeping the defense off balance.
However, Cleveland has struggled since week one in Kansas City to move the ball through the air when they absolutely need to and the defense knows it coming. This is a collective issue for the Browns offense. Responsibility does not fall solely on the shoulders of Mayfield or Kevin Stefanski. The two need to work in tandem with the wide receivers to help figure this out. There will be other instances this year when Mayfield needs to make plays in order for Cleveland to win. There will need to be collective progress made over the course of the year in this area or unfortunately, the discourse surrounding Mayfield will become even more tiresome for fans of the organization.