Fresh off of two dominant defensive performances, the Browns travel cross country to Los Angeles to battle the upstart Chargers on Sunday.
Baker Mayfield‘s Shoulder
Cleveland will be looking for a bounce-back performance from quarterback Baker Mayfield, despite it being revealed mid-week that Mayfield has been dealing with a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder. The Browns signal-caller suffered the injury in the home opener versus Houston but has yet to miss a single practice or game snap. This will be something to monitor however as Mayfield was extremely inaccurate in last Sunday’s game against the Vikings, completing less than 50% of his attempted passes.
Cleveland’s offense sputtered last week due to Mayfield’s downfield passing inaccuracies. If the Browns want to reach their fullest potential this season, Mayfield will have to navigate his shoulder injury and find a way to regain the accuracy that he displayed at the beginning of the season. There is also a responsibility that should be taken by Head Coach/play-caller Kevin Stefanski. Stefanski needs to be able to assist Mayfield in this endeavor utilize plays that help Mayfield get into a rhythm early in the game. If he can find his footing early on, Mayfield will be more likely to sustain his success.
The Chargers present a unique challenge for Cleveland as first-year head man and Cleveland native Brandon Staley has Los Angeles playing at a very high level, especially offensively. Second-year quarterback Justin Herbert has shown flashes of brilliance so far in his young career, as he is surrounded by multiple big-play threats. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are both big-bodied receivers who are capable of being high volume prolific downfield threats, while Austin Ekeler has shown to be lethal in both the run and pass game. Defensively, LA is led by pass rusher Joey Bosa, who remains one of the most feared players in the game at his position. However, the Chargers are a team that is led by their offense as they have struggled to contain opposing teams’ rushing attacks through the first four weeks of the season, giving up nearly 140 yards per contest on the ground. The combination of Chubb and Hunt will be a stern test for the Chargers’ defense.
On the injury front, Cleveland comes into Sunday rather hobbled. While only two players have been ruled out in Greg Newsome and Chris Hubbard, ten others are listed as questionable. Those listed questionable include Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, Jadeveon Clowney, Troy Hill, Takk McKinley and Jedrick Wills. If Wills is ultimately unable to give it a go, Cleveland would be down to their third left tackle against the likes of Joey Bosa. Especially given the shaky status of Baker Mayfield’s shoulder, expect the Browns to utilize plenty of screen passes once again on Sunday to help negate Bosa’s pressure.