Initial post that has grown large.
Fri, Nov 22, 2019
Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy says that no matter what Browns defensive end Myles Garrett heard Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph say, Garrett lost any moral high ground when he ripped Rudolph’s helmet off and hit him over the head.
“I’m sorry, I don’t have sympathy with Myles Garrett if in fact that is what happened,” Dungy said. “If we’re in the bottom of the pile and Mason Rudolph is kneeing you in the groin or he’s trying to poke your eye out or he’s twisting your knee, something that’s going to affect your ability to do your work and your career, then, yeah, you can go off. But you can’t go off because somebody said something to you. All kinds of things get said out there on the field. There’s four-letter words. In this case it may have been a six-letter word, a multi-syllable word. All of that happens. I can’t go off and jeopardize my team’s chances to go to the playoffs, my career, my ability to make money because somebody called me a name. I don’t care what name he said, that is not an excuse to me.”
Hey more controversy in a Thursday night game.
This is a joke.
Browns Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks Says Helmet Hits Against Steelers Were Not Intentional
Of course the coach is going to say the head shots were unintentional. He's not going to say, "Hell yeah, we were head-hunting. I implemented my own bounty system."
The first hit may not have been intentional. It looked like a collision of the ball, the receiver, and the Browns DBs.
But I don't believe that Randall's hit was accidental. He led with the crown of his helmet. That's not tackling. And the pass was beyond Johnson, incomplete, play over, but that did not stop Randall from blowing up on Johnson. Randall should have been suspended a couple games for simply acting like an imbecile on the field after the refs ejected him from the game.
From Grossi's story:
A week later, Browns offensive coordinator Steve Wilks defended his players from allegations of “targeting” Steelers receivers and disputed quarterback Mason Rudolph’s contention that a “late hit” by Myles Garrett precipitated the melee at the end of the game.
As a long-suffering, frustrated Browns fan, I agree with the Steelers on those two issues above. I have seen refs throw the flags for roughing the QBs on the exact same tackling scenario that Garrett engaged in. It does not matter if the defender did not realize that the QB tossed the ball away. If the tackling continues well after the ball is thrown, the refs flag the defense. The ref, however, did not do that on Garrett's late tackle of Rudolph. Even the Steelers lineman number 71 looked at the ref with a "What the hell was that?" look with his arms outstretched after Garrett finally dragged Rudolph to the ground, well after Rudolph threw the ball away.
Browns fans and media would be whining a record levels even for Browns fans if the above was flipped around. The cheap shots by the Browns defense have no place in football. Opponents can tee off on Browns players and maybe put Browns players on the injury list at at time when Cleveland is making an attempt to get back into the playoff picture.
Pittsburgh receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson were knocked out of the game with concussions on helmet hits by cornerback Greedy Williams and safety Damarious Randall, respectively. Williams was not penalized, though he may be fined. Randall was ejected and can expect a fine.
Master of the obvious from super genius Browns defensive coordinator:
“I would say this, this is a physical football game,” Wilks said.
Wow. American football is a physical game. What a revelation.
It's a physical game, but when players knowingly break the rules, then it's an unnecessarily violent game that has no place in football. Big difference that is obviously lost on the genius Wilkes.
Wilkes continued with his snake oil sales pitch:
“That is not my personality. That is not our personality as an organization. Things happen on the football field. Very unfortunate. I don’t think anything was malicious at all with the hit with Damarious. It just so happened he caught him in the wrong place. It’s not something we coach nor do we condone.”
Randall’s hit also drew blood from Johnson’s ear. Randall said on Wednesday that he apologized to Johnson after the game and was glad to hear Johnson is back practicing with the Steelers this week.
Smith-Schuster also injured his knee on the play on which he was concussed and is not expected to play Sunday in Cincinnati.
It’s ironic that Wilks would have to defend allegations of targeting. His predecessor, Gregg Williams, did not face scrutiny in two years with the Browns despite carrying the baggage of Bountygate from his time with the New Orleans Saints.
Browns should win comfortably if not flashy this Sunday, similar to how the Browns boringly won against the Jets.
Cle 27 - Mia 10. No big deal. Lead from the start. Never threatened. Move on.
The Browns were ill-prepared to play the Titans in week one of the regular season, despite having over two weeks to get ready since the third preseason game and despite the Browns knowing that they would start the season at home vs the Titans, since the schedule came out in the late spring.
After the bye week, the Browns were ill-prepared to play the Patriots at New England. Cle trailed 17-0 in the first quarter.
The Browns have had 10 days to prepare for the Dolphins, since the Steelers game. It's a mini break.
The Titans are still a .500 team or around .500. The Pats have the best record in the AFC. Even if the Browns are ill-prepared for Dolphins after this mini break, Cle should still win by two scores.
Sun, Nov 24, 2019
Back to football. Dolphins at Browns today. 1:00 p.m. start. And once again, we won't see the game on TV in Toledo. It sucks being in the Detroit TV market. We should consider moving to Erie County (Sandusky, Ohio), which is the Cleveland TV market.
Two weeks ago when the Browns hosted the Bills in Cleveland, CBS carried the game. But for some idiotic reason, the NFL moved the Lions-Bears or whoever game from Fox to CBS. The Lions played another NFC team.
Today, the Lions play another NFC team, maybe the Bears, I don't know and I don't care. It's a 1pm game, and naturally, it airs on Fox as it should. But the NFL has moved the Browns-Dolphins game to Fox. !?!?!?!?!?
It's nearly 2020, and some TV markets cannot see the market's second team on TV. It's stunning, but that's what happens with the NFL, which is one of greediest orgs in the world.
It should be possible to stream an NFL game over any internet-connected device on a pay-per-view basis. The NFL Ticket costs about $74 a month, and a subscriber must pay for four months. That's nearly $300 to watch a few Browns games that I cannot watch over-the-air.
Amazon Prime costs around $100 a year. When wanting to a watch a moving over Prime that is not "free" with the subscription, then I usually have the option to buy or lease the movie. We have a Roku-based TV and not cable nor satellite garbage. We use toast.net for our home internet connection. That does not matter to Roku nor Amazon Prime.
The NFL Ticket app should exist for Roku and other TV streaming setups. Then I CHOOSE what games to watch and pay for that game only. $10 even $20 per game would be fine by me. I would only need it when these rip-off-job scenarios occur in our TV market.
Browns pre-game crew made their mid-season Super Bowl predictions. The Patriots were still getting a lot of suggestions. I think that New England will lose a couple more games, at least, before the regular season ends. Their schedule is tougher now than in the first half of the season. The Pats defeated the Eagles last week. But I can see the Pats losing two of their next three games.
I think that the Pats will lose their first playoff game. They won't make it to the AFC Championship. The hottest team in the NFL currently is the Ravens. Provided that they stay healthy, then Baltimore should reach the AFC Championship game.
Depending upon how the playoff schedule works out, then I think that the Ravens will play either the Chiefs or the surprise Raiders in the AFC Championship game.
In the NFC, I predict that Seattle and Green Bay will play in the NFC Championship game, depending upon how the playoff schedule pans out. Those two teams could face in an earlier round. I guess that a third option for the NFC title game would be San Fran.
Maybe the Browns will surprise them all and win out in the regular season, ending at 10-6, or make the playoffs at 9-7 and sneak into the AFC Championship game, or at least win one playoff game.
Mon, Nov 25, 2019
Browns jumped out to a 28-0 lead in the first half and coasted to a 41 to 24 victory.
At the end of the first half, Cle lead 28-3. The Browns stumbled in the third quarter on offense and defense. The Dolphins closed the lead the 28-17.
Surrendering 24 points was too much. Browns were depleted along the defensive line, due to suspensions. The Browns will miss Garrett against better teams.
The Browns defensive MVP this season thus far is LB Joe Schobert. He needs to stay healthy for the Browns to make a serious run at a wildcard spot.
In yesterday's game, Baker threw for over 300 yards. Landry caught two TD passes, and OBJ caught a TD pass. Chubb and Hunt scored a rushing TD each.
Deb and I drove out to Shared Legacy Farms to pick up our last haul of late fall produce. Good looking stuff. I listened to the game in the car. I considered going to a bar to watch the remainder of the game, but when the Browns led 21-0, I decided to stay home and listen to the game on the radio.
Our local CBS station broadcast the Steelers at Bengals game. I watched the second half of that poorly played game. Rudolph got benched at halftime. At the half, Cin led Pit 7 to 3. Pit won 16 to 10, or something like that.
For Pit, Hodges QBed the second half, and he looked better than Rudolph did against the Browns. I'm guessing that Cle will face Hodges and not Rudolph.
But in the second half of that Pit-Cin game, both offenses looked inept. The only way that this Sunday's Cle-Pit game is close is if the weather is horrible like the cold, rainy, and windy Cowboys at Pats game yesterday afternoon, or if the Browns beat themselves with mountains of mistakes, which they have not done in recent games.
If the Browns offense plays consistent, then I think that Cle will lead from the beginning and win comfortably by at least 17 points in Pit.
Currently, Pit is 6-5 and Cle is 5-6. A Browns victory puts both teams at 6-6, but Cle would have a one game lead over Pit, since Cle would have defeated Pit twice.
Buffalo is now 8-3, and barring a major collapse, the Bills should take the first wildcard spot easily.
Then several AFC teams currently have 5-6 or 6-5 records. These teams will battle for one wildcard spot.
- Pittsburgh 6-5
- Cleveland 5-6
- Indianapolis 6-5
- Tennessee 6-5
- Oakland 6-5
The Chargers are 4-7. Mathematically, they still have a chance.
The Chiefs lead the AFC West with a 7-4 record. Regardless, either the Chiefs or the Raiders will battle for the lone remaining wildcard spot.
In the AFC South, Houston leads the division at 7-4 over Ind and Ten. Again, it does not matter, since two teams from that division will be vying for the wildcard spot.
I'm guessing that at least one 9-7 team will miss the playoffs this season in the AFC.
Browns remaining schedule:
- AT Pittsburgh
- home vs Cincinnati
Cle SHOULD win both of those games and go to 7-6.
- AT Arizona - tricky, but definitely winnable, especially if Cle fancies itself a playoff caliber team. The Browns blew it at Denver, a mediocre team. AZ is better than Denver. This will be the first real test of Cle's defense, minus Garrett.
- home vs Baltimore - should be something, assuming that Bal still needs to win this game for home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
- AT Cincinnati - regardless of this being a road game and regardless of the weather, no excuse exists for the Browns losing to Cin this year, unless Cle is decimated by injuries.
Browns can afford only one more loss, maybe, and still have a shot at the playoffs. But I can see Cle finishing 9-7 and missing the playoffs, and then we have the entire offseason to play would-have, should-have, could-have, regarding losses that Cle should have won, such as the Seattle and Denver games. And one more win would have put Cle into the playoffs.
Win out and finish 10-6, and if that's not good enough to make the playoffs, okay, I won't fret too much, especially after starting 2-6. And I predicted 9 or 10 wins for Cle this year anyway. I did not expect Bal to play this well.
Currently, Bal is 8-2. They play tonight at the LA Rams.
Ravens remaining schedule
- AT the LA Rams
- home vs San Francisco
- AT Buffalo
- home vs Jets
- AT Cleveland
- home vs Pittsburgh
Wow. That's a tough remaining schedule. The three previous games, Bal defeated New England, Cincinnati, and Houston.
Sun, Dec 1, 2019
First day of winter.
It's about 45 minutes away from kickoff. The Browns defense is depleted for a variety of reasons.
Steelers are missing several players too.
Browns: S Eric Murray, T Greg Robinson, DE Chris Smith, TE Pharaoh Brown, S Damarious Randall, OL Drew Forbes, WR Taywan Taylor.
Steelers: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, QB Paxton Lynch, CB Artie Burns, RB James Conner, LB Tuzar Skipper, OL Chukwuma Okorafor, TE Zach Gentry
I predict that Cle wins 27 to 10, at least. It should be at least three scores. The Steelers offense is woeful, but Cle's defense will at times surrender a TD drive that is mostly aided by Browns defensive penalties.
Browns special teams cannot surrender any Steeler TDs. Steelers will need to score or setup easy scores via special teams and defensive plays.
I think that Cle gets out to a 10-0 lead and cruises from then on. No skirmishes occur on the field because both teams could be 6-6 after this game if Cle wins, and both teams will still be in the hunt for the final wildcard spot. Teams cannot afford any more players to be suspended.
In the NFL he started off as a quarterback and saw some success, but decided to change positions and played very well at wide receiver in 2016, catching 77 passes for 1,007 yards for the Browns. He was never able to replicate that success, however, and is not currently on an NFL roster.
4:35 p.m., Sun, Dec 1, 2019: Shocker. Pit defeated Cle 20 to 13 in Pit. Cle led early 10-0 with the game going as expected with the Browns racking up offensive yardage and controlling the time of possession, and the Pit offense doing nothing.
But then mid to late in the 2nd qtr, the Pit offense got rolling. From the last half of the 2nd qtr into the 3rd qtr, Pit scored on four consecutive possessions, I think. Pit scored 20 unanswered points to lead 20-10.
Cle scored a 4th qtr field goal to cut the lead to 20 to 13.
After a Cle pooch punt when lined up for a long field goal, Pit offense started inside their own one yard line. Pit manged to move the ball to their 40-something with three first downs, including two third down conversions. Pit changed field of position, killed a lot of clock, and forced Cle to use all of their timeouts.
With under two minutes left, Pit punted. The Cle offense moved very little before an errant Baker pass got intercepted by former Browns DB Joe Haden.
Steelers QB "Duck" Hodges performed well, probably better than Baker. Steelers receivers made excellent plays. Hodges was accurate. His only turnover was an interception on a long pass along the sideline where it appeared that the Steelers WR stopped running the route.
Steeler defense played well too. Pit's defense is better than Cle's. That's obvious. And today, the Pit offense was better than Cle's, despite Cle having Odell, Landry, Chub, Hunt, and Baker. Amazing.
Two of the best NFL coaches work in the AFC North. Harbaugh at Bal and Tomlin at Pit.
Tomlin won't win coach of the year this season, but in my opinion, to have the Steelers at 7-5 and in the playoff picture, minus Big Ben at QB, is amazing, and that starts at the top with the head coach, Tomlin.
If Duck QBed the first Pit-Cle game, then I think that Pit would have won. In that first game, the poor Cle offensive play after the midway point of the 2nd qtr allowed Pit to get back in the game. Rudolph commits turnovers while Hodges keeps mistakes to a minimum. Add a solid defense and good coaching and that's how Pit is doing better than Cle.
Mathematically, Cle is still in the playoff picture, but realistically, it's hard to see Cle winning all of its last four games. This was a three game winning streak that ended.
Andy Dalton returned at QB for Cin today, and the Bengals won their first game by defeating the Jets. Cle plays Cin next week in Cle. The Browns should win next week, but with the way that the Browns defense played today and against Denver, and the way that the Browns offense has struggled, except in the Dolphins game, then next week's game could be a shoot-out.
The next game at AZ won't be easy either. Then the Ravens game at Cle will be tough, assuming that Bal tries. If Cle somehow wins its next three games, Cin would love to ruin all hope in Cin in the final game of the season.
None of these final four games will be easy. It's the NFL. They are all tough and can be unpredictable.
Five bad games and losses this year for Cle, and I blame all of these on poor coaching, except maybe the Seattle game.
- week one at home vs Titans - 18 Cle penalties
- home game vs Seattle - defensive failure in final minute before halftime and offensive mistakes. Browns gave this game away.
- road game at New England after a bye week down 17-0 in first qtr
- road game at Denver where the Denver backup QB made his first NFL start
- today's game at Pit versus Hodges, an undrafted QB, making his 2nd NFL start
Browns defense was depleted due to injuries and suspensions, but the defense still held Pit to only 20 points. That's a winnable game when an opponent scores fewer than 24 points. The Browns offense failed to adapt to in-game changes made by Pit.
Right before halftime today, Baker heaved a long pass, and his throwing hand struck the helmet of a Steeler. Baker left the game with one play left. Baker played the second half with a glove on his throwing hand, maybe to reduce swelling. I thought that he broke his hand, based upon how he grabbed the back of his and wrist area. I know that feeling. But apparently, x-rays were negative. He seemed to throw the ball well in the 3rd qtr, rifling accurate passes. I'm not blaming Baker's hand for Cle's offensive woes because Cle's offense checked out early in the 2nd qtr.
Terrible game all around by Cle. It's December, barely, but it's late-season, playoff-like football, and Cle's defense surrendered too many yards and points, and Cle's offense was too inept to play good football.
Duck Hodges and Brandon Allen stopped the Browns from making a playoff run.
Agreed but also shouldn't be returning kicks..again coaching has cost this game..that's the big difference this game..does Tomlin have OBJ, Baker, Landry, Hunt, Chubb but he is getting the most out of his guys
With all of the so-called star players on the Cle roster, the Steelers had more rushing yards and more passing yards than the Browns. Wow.
Browns led in total plays and and time of possession because of the Browns dominance in the first quarter and early in the second quarter.
CLE PIT Total Yards 279 323 Total Plays 63 54 Avg Gain Per Play 4.4 6.0 Net Yards Rushing 106 124 Net Yards Passing 173 199 Yards Per Pass 4.4 9.0 Times Sacked 5 1 Yds Lost To Sacks 23 13 Time of Possession 00:32:06 00:27:54
"Torture. Absolute torture to sit there and watch that." - Tony Grossi's first words to Emmit and Jerod in the post game talk show.
Baker and Hodges each threw one interception, but Baker also lost a fumble.
Despite the Browns defense surrending that many yards, Pit only scored 20 points. That's low enough for the offense to win.
AFC wildcard picture:
- Pit at 7-5
- three teams in the AFC South battle for the division, meaning two teams will be in the wildcard hunt
- two teams battle for the AFC West division, meaning one team will be in the wildcard hunt.
After today, four teams with either 7-5 or 6-6 records will be competing for the final wildcard spot, ahead of Cle.
Buffalo is currently 9-3. Unless they collapse, they nearly have one wildcard spot locked up.
If Cle finishes the final quarter of the season 3-1 and 8-8 overall, I'll be surprised. From a team scoring persepctive, Cle has struggled this season.
Browns team scoring over the past six games. I think that all of the points have been scored by the offense. I don't think that the special teams nor defense has scored any TDs, but it's possible that the Cle did score one TD.
- 13 vs New England
- 19 vs Denver
- 19 vs Buffalo and Cle won
- 21 vs Pittsburgh and Cle won
- 41 vs Miami but the Dolphins scored 24
- 13 vs Pittsburgh
Only once did Cle top the 24-point threshold that seems to be some kind of scoring dividing line in the NFL.
Too little scoring by a team that fancies itself a playoff contender.
TN Titans made a QB change during the regular season because Mariota performed poorly. TN outcoached and defeated the Browns in week one. TN is now 7-5.
Titans team scoring over the past six games:
- 23 vs Chargers and TN won
- 27 vs Tampa Bay and TN won
- 20 vs Carolina
- 35 vs Kansas City and TN won
- 42 vs Jacksonville and TN won
- 31 vs Indianapolis and TN won
TN has won five of its last six games, and the Titans scored more than 24 points in 4 games. They exceeded 30 points three times.
Mon, Dec 9, 2019
The Browns defeated the Bengals yesterday in Cleveland 27 to 19. That mediocre Browns performance offsets the Seattle loss. Against the Seahawks, the Browns should have won, but Cleveland committed too many mistakes on offense and defense and gave the game away.
Yesterday, the Bengals should have won. The Bengals offense moved easily against the Browns defense. But on three occasions when the Bengals had the ball inside the Browns 10-yard line, the Bengals had to settle for two chip-shot field goals and a turnover on downs. One of those field goals occurred after Cin had first and goal at the Cle 2-yard line, and the new Bengals coached dialed up a cutesy pass play that resulted in a sack. Mixon ran well against Cle. Why not pound it into the line with Mixon four times if necessary?
The Bengals committed four penalties that were of the unsportsmanlike/personal foul variety. Big penalties. Four of them. Cin looked like Cle in many games: leaving a lot of offensive points on the field and committing too many dumb penalties.
The Browns offense scored 21 of their 27 points. The Browns DB Ward returned an interception for a TD.
It was an ugly win that would have been acceptable if it had occurred at Pittsburgh and at Denver or maybe next week at Arizona. If the Browns defense does not improve, and if Baltimore needs to play hard in the 15th game, Bal could lead 28 to 0 at halftime. It could be a slaughter.
Lopsided stats except in the score, which matters most.
- Net yards passing: Cin 272, Cle 187
- Net yards rushing: Cin 179, Cle 146
- First downs: Cin 27, Cle 17
- 3rd efficiency: Cin 3-12, Cle 7-12
- Total yards: Cin 451, Cle 333
- Time of possession: Cin 34:31, Cle 25:29
And of course more drama surrounded the Browns. It seems that nearly every game or home game, some kind of story breaks in the morning of the game that involves the Browns.
Regarding the playoff picture with three games left ...
Ravens (11-2) They’ve clinched a playoff spot and can wrap up at least the AFC North by beating the Jets on Thursday.
Patriots (10-3) Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs means they’ve now lost to all the other division leaders in the conference and they’ll likely be facing some of them again come January.
Chiefs (9-4) The offense hasn’t been as prolific as in the past, but they are AFC West champs again.
Texans (8-5) Getting blown out by the Broncos isn’t the preferred way to prepare for the surging Titans.
The two wildcard teams at the moment:
Bills (9-4) Their defense held up well against Baltimore, but the offense took a step back from Thanksgiving.
Steelers (8-5) Beating the Bills would make their improbable Wild Card bid tougher to stop.
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
Titans (8-5) The Titans posted 552 yards of offense on Sunday, so they may be peaking at the right time.
Browns (6-7) Sunday’s win was their fourth in five games, but it’s shaping up to be a case of too little, too late for Cleveland.
Raiders (6-7) Oakland’s been blown out three straight weeks to go from hopeful to just about hopeless on the playoff front.
Colts (6-7) Their inability to close out the Buccaneers all but closed out their playoff chances.
Broncos (5-8) They won’t make the playoffs, but they may have found their quarterback.
It’s probably too little, too late, but the Browns aren’t done just yet.
Baker Mayfield did not play well, but Andy Dalton didn’t, either. The difference for the Browns was Nick Chubb, who topped 100 yards with a game that included a 57-yard run.
Beating the Bengals doesn’t prove anything, and there are still major questions about whether Freddie Kitchens is the right man for the job in Cleveland. But for today, the Browns are winners.
Yesterday, the Steelers won at Arizona, and the Titans won again.
For the Browns, I like the idea of placing OBJ on injured reserver, meaning that he would be gone for the final three games. What happened to Higgins? Chubb and Landry are pro bowl players. Maybe the Browns offense would play more freely without OBJ on the field.
The day started with two bombshell reports about Odell Beckham Jr. – that he’s been playing through a sports hernia injury that will require surgery, and that he has told opposing players and coaches to “come get me [out of Cleveland].”
It continued with Baker Mayfield throwing the Browns’ medical staff under the bus for mishandling Beckham’s injury and not correcting his problem when it began in training camp.
In between, the Browns beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 27-19 -- thanks to somebody’s realization that Nick Chubb was being woefully underfed -- to keep alive slim, and dwindling, mathematical playoff chances.
On Beckham’s health issue, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported in the morning that Beckham’s sports hernia injury – which has been loosely labeled hip and groin injuries on the team’s injury reports each week – would necessitate surgery.
Beckham had two receptions on five targets for 39 yards against the Bengals, marking the fifth game he has been held under five receptions. He was glum after the game and brief in his responses.
OBJ is taking up valuable space on the field. Cle would be better with someone else playing WR.
Asked if Beckham should have had surgery earlier, Mayfield said, “Yeah, I think looking back, obviously hindsight is 20-20, he probably would have missed the first two, [Games] one and two, just based on the fact that it was during training camp. It is what it is. We’re here right now. It’s too late to do that. He’s fighting through pain, playing through pain. That shows you what type of guy he is.”
Within an hour, Mayfield issued an apology via Twitter.
“My intentions were not to throw our medical staff under the bus. No I don’t know all the facts about Odell’s injury. It was emotionally answered because I can sense his frustration and I care about my team and putting us in the best position to win.
“Those people within our building know my intentions and where I am coming from. I truly believe that and I apologize to those that don’t deserve the backlash.... today was a good team win. On to the next one.”
Yes, the next one … the story from FOX’s Jay Glazer that Beckham definitely wants out of Cleveland and has told players and coaches from other teams “Hey, come get me. Come get me out of here.’”
Beckham said, “I’m not going to talk about any offseason stuff that’s going on. Right now, the focus is to win, go 1-0 and that’s what we did today.”
Asked if he was troubled by the speculation about his future – which began Thursday in his vague responses about where he wanted to play next year – Beckham said, “I’m used to it. I’ve been dealing with it for three or four years. It’s just the same thing that is going on. Not anything that I can’t handle.”
Mayfield termed reports about Beckham wanting out “drama.”
“It continues to be that on the outside. Within our walls, we know exactly what we have, and we have a good relationship where it is very straight to the point. I am not worried about that,” he said.
Mayfield said he has never received the sense from Beckham that he doesn’t want to stay in Cleveland.
Back to the actual game.
Oh, yeah, about that win …
The Browns were languishing barely ahead of the 1-12 Bengals at halftime, 14-13, because of two Mayfield interceptions (one was on a deflection off KhaDarel Hodge’s hands, the other was initially scored a David Njoku fumble).
In the locker room, somebody noticed that Chubb – the NFL’s leading rusher – only had three carries for 7 yards and Kareem Hunt had three for 10 yards. The Bengals were ranked 32nd against the run entering the game.
In the second half, Chubb carried 12 times for 99 yards, including a 57-yard run. He finished with a 7.1-yard average on 106 yards, increasing his league-leading season total to 1,281.
“I thought we had some plays there in the pass game,” Coach Freddie Kitchens scoffed when asked why he waited so long to feed Chubb. “The runs I called in the first half went for 2-3 yards. I need more than that. I thought we could lean on them a little bit in the second half.”
The Browns are poorly coached. I've gone back and forth about Coach Freddie remaining with Cleveland, and unless the offense improves dramatically for all three of the remaining games, then I think that Freddie needs replaced.
OBJ should be benched, but that's a management issue, and it probably won't happen, which means the Cle offense plays with a handicap.
With the way that Cle played yesterday, it's easy to think that Cin will defeat Cle in Cin on the final game of the year, and it might be a game that Cle needs to win to have a shot at making the playoffs. Of course, that requires Cle somehow defeating Bal in the 15th game.
Freddie does not control the defense, but the offense has scored fewer than 24 points in too many games this year, and yesterday was another.
Normally, I dislike it when Cle fires its head coach after only one or two years, but clearly, the Browns need a coach with actual head coaching experience who also has experience winning.
Last week, the Carolina Panthers fired its long-time head coach Ron Rivera. If he wanted to coach in Cle, that would be an excellent choice for the Browns.
Style points not necessary: In the history of the Battle of Ohio, there have been many forgettable ones like the one that unfolded in FirstEnergy Stadium. At this point of their Season of Great Unmet Expectations, the Browns will take any victory without the style points. Thus, no griping about a 27-19 triumph over the 1-12 Bengals. In fact, they caught a huge break when Baker Mayfield’s apparent third interception at the Browns’ 23 with 4:58 to go was overturned on replay and ruled pass interference on Bengals cornerback William Jackson. Mayfield then advanced the ball, 85 yards overall on 14 plays, for a chip-shot field goal to preserve the win. It was their fourth in a row at home and upped their record to 6-7 overall and 3-1 in AFC North games. A big play in the game was Austin Seibert’s 53-yard field goal at the end of the third quarter to up the lead to eight points. The teams exchanged field goals in the last 1:06 to keep it an eight-point game.
Thanks, Zac: Bengals rookie head coach Zac Taylor is one of those offensive geniuses who believe in pass-first – no matter where. The Bengals moved from their 14 to the Browns’ 2 in the third quarter, partly due to the hard running of Joe Mixon. Then from the 2, the Bengals were sacked on first down and failed on two frantic Andy Dalton incompletions in the end zone. The resultant field goal cut the Browns’ lead to 21-16. It’s just amazing how these coaches eschew the run inside the 5 nowadays.
Haltime adjustment, duh: At halftime, Nick Chubb had three rush attempts for seven yards and Kareem Hunt three for 10 yards. Somebody in the Browns coaching room must have said, “Hey, did you guys know the Bengals are last in rush defense?” After the second half kickoff, the Browns handed off to their two backs four straight plays: Hunt for 6, Chubb for 3, Chubb for 7, Chubb for 57. After a failed fade pass from David Njoku from the 3, Hunt ran around left end for the touchdown. (It’s not that hard to figure out, right?) Chubb went over 100 yards in the fourth quarter
Yikes: With 12:07 to play in the first half, the Bengals led in total yards, 185 to 49, and a held a 13-7 lead.
OBJ all day: Beckham has not finished a season healthy since 2016, and the chance of a third in a row improved when it was disclosed Sunday morning, via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, that Beckham has been playing with a sports hernia injury that will necessitate surgery. Before the game, ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported that Beckham responded to her text that “there is no decision on surgery yet." Anderson also reported it was her understanding that the injury is in the area where “the rectus abdominis meets the adductor/groin.” Beckham has not missed a game but has been on the team’s injury report every week with hip and/or groin injuries. He skipped all of OTAs to get himself in the best possible physical and mental shape, he has said, and then practiced sparingly in training camp and did not play in the preseason. The story took one more twist when Jay Glazer of FOXSports reported that Beckham definitely wants out of Cleveland and has told opposing players and coaches – “before games, during games” -- “’Hey, come get me. Come get me out of here.’” Cleveland-area media were generally lambasted for raising the issue of Beckham’s future with the Browns on Thursday, but his purposely vague comments now can be seen as a tip-off to Glazer’s report. Beckham had two receptions on five targets for 39 yards.
Tue, Dec 10, 2019
John Dorsey’s trade for Odell Beckham Jr. was well-intentioned.
It produced a welcomed positive buzz. It made the Browns relevant in the eyes of league schedule-makers and network executives. It raised expectations for a banner year and sold out the home season. It made Browns fans feel good.
And it has been a colossal failure.
Not a colossal disaster, mind you.
It’s not nearly as bad as the Andre Rison signing by the Browns in 1995.
That free-agent acquisition retired the trophy as worst player transaction in Browns history – possibly in NFL history. The Rison signing actually contributed to Art Modell’s desperate end run to Baltimore to avoid real personal bankruptcy.
Beckham’s contract has no salary-cap ramifications that make it overly painful to undo the trade.
And that’s what Dorsey should do – undo it. Cut your losses and move on.
In the offseason, all parties should agree to an amicable parting through trade.
Dorsey has been quick to release players that have failed to produce. Obviously, this is different because it's Odell. And if Dorsey thinks that it will be good to deal Odell out of Cleveland after the season, then why not sit him for the final three games?
Where's Hollywood Higgins?
Odell gets all or most of the blame for his lackluster performance. If he has been so injured all season that he may have harmed the Browns offense, then it was up to Odell AND the Browns to place Odell on some kind of injured reserve list back in the preseason. He would have missed a few games, but he might have played 10 games this year at 100 percent, which means that he might have contributed at the level that fans expected.
Two national reporters – Jay Glazer of FOX Sports and Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports -- now have confirmed from separate sources that Beckham has asked opposing players and coaches to “come get me.” Beckham has declined to address his future other than to say “check with me in the offseason.” Doing so implicitly gives credibility to the reports.
That's enough for the Browns front office people and most importantly the owners to site Odell for the rest of the season. Odell's presence on the field could be harming the Browns offense and scoring. Odell cannot get open. He has dropped too many passes this season. He's wasting space on the field.
Make no mistake, trading Beckham would be an admission of error. But the Browns should not be stigmatized by that.
Admitting and correcting a mistake as quickly as possible is a sign of organizational maturity. Bill Belichick does it all the time. This year alone, Belichick released Antonio Brown and Josh Gordon when he realized they were not the solution to his team’s offensive problems.
And that's significant, since the Patriots offense has struggled all season to score points.
Let’s be clear about one thing: Beckham is not the solution to the Browns’ offensive problems. In my opinion, he is – perhaps unwittingly -- the source of them. Let me explain.
All about OBJ: On the day Beckham was introduced, he was surrounded on the dais in the media room by Myles Garrett, Jarvis Landry and Baker Mayfield.
Mayfield said having Landry and Beckham as his dynamic duo receiving targets “is going to make my job easier.”
In truth, it made his job harder. Much harder.
The Browns offensive scoring is probably ranked near the bottom in the league. Weak production.
The team’s obsession with pleasing Beckham and softening the shock of his trade from the New York Giants was evident from the beginning.
He was allowed to report to the team “when mentally ready.” That alone set an unhealthy cultural precedent -- that Beckham would be treated differently than the rest of the team. Several times we heard the line, “He’s Odell.” As if there were team rules for Odell, and team rules for everyone else.
Beckham skipped virtually all of the offseason conditioning program and OTA practices. Yes, they were voluntary. But the fact is, the Browns hoped Beckham would show them the courtesy of participating in at least one practice a week.
Instead, he gallivanted all over the globe, missing valuable time to connect with his new quarterback and new offensive teammates and coaches while learning a new offense in a new environment. Those days had nothing to do with conditioning. It had everything to do with team-building.
Beckham and everyone else said he knows his body better than anyone. Beckham insisted he was preparing his body for the haul of a long season. And yet, he never was totally healthy when training camp commenced. He was held out of most team practice periods and didn’t play a snap in preseason, further undermining the essential task of building chemistry with Mayfield while the new Freddie Kitchens offense was being installed.
I would like to have seen the Browns offense play the final three games without Odell. Maybe production would have increased.
Many of Mayfield’s incompletions and interceptions have come on targets for Beckham. Many times deep into the season Beckham has lined up in the wrong place and had to be waved to the proper spot prior to the snap.
Making Beckham and Landry the focal point of the offense was terribly flawed, in the first place. It fell in line with justifying the bold trade and pleasing Beckham.
It caused the Browns to lose their identity as a run-first team.
Coach Freddie might have coached the Browns out of the playoffs and himself out of a head coaching job by planning an offense around passing most of the time because Odell existed.
The Browns won on Sunday, barely, against the Bengals because the Browns went to the running game in the second half.
Obsessing with getting Beckham the lion’s share of targets heaped unneeded pressure on Mayfield and sapped energy from all involved. A year ago, Mayfield was masterful in distributing the ball to a corps of receivers less talented than Beckham. This year, he openly admitted the team had to force the ball to Beckham. As a result, Mayfield’s growth as an NFL quarterback has been severely stunted.
In the meantime, the mid-season union of former NFL rushing champion Kareem Hunt and future NFL rushing champion Nick Chubb gifted Kitchens with an unprecedented tandem of versatile backfield weapons with which to create a unique offensive focus.
But the obsession with Beckham gets in the way of committing entirely to Chubb and Hunt.
Nobody doubts that Beckham’s No. 1 objective is to win.
His reported sports hernia injury looks to be getting worse, reducing his ability to contribute to the cause of winning. He is a proud man and appears to be getting more frustrated that he can’t perform up to his lofty standards.
I say the Browns should shut Beckham down. Do what’s necessary to accelerate the process of healing his injury. That would free the offense to concentrate on its real strength – Chubb and Hunt. That would free Mayfield to distribute the ball evenly without pressure to force it to Beckham.
I believe the dysfunction in the Browns’ offense would magically disappear.
Remember the vague possibility that the Browns could have traded receiver Odell Beckham Jr. before the October 29 deadline? Beckham apparently wanted it to be more than a vague possibility.
Per the NFL, both the Patriots and Bills will wrap up playoff spots if they win this weekend. The Patriots will be in Cincinnati and the Bills will play in Pittsburgh on Sunday night.
- Browns (6-7; No. 19): Even when they win, it feels like they lose.