After what we just witnessed as a fandom this week against the Chargers it may seem that finding 3 positives from this season may be hard, neigh impossible. Fear not dear reader for that is what I am about to do. I will also be highlighting 3 negatives from the season as well, but I’m sure that part of this article will practically write itself. So what will it be? Do you want the good news or the bad news first? I’ve always liked to start my day on the bright side so let’s dig into those positives:
Positive #1: The Offensive Line
The offense as a whole has exceeded expectations this season. Expected by many to be the weak link on a team with a strong defense (more on that unit later), instead, the offense has been the unit that has allowed this team to be competitive. The main reason for that? The offensive line. The Browns’ interior is one of, if not the best 3 man unit in the league. With the #2 & #3 rated guards and the #4 rated, center in the league so far they have been dominant. This O-Line has led the Browns to the #1 rushing attack and #9 passing attack in the league (according to PFF). They have done all this even after losing their starting center to a season-ending injury on the second play of the preseason.
Positive #2: Competitive Without Watson
The Browns have not lost a game by more than 3 points this season. Despite the obvious defensive woes, sub-par special teams and untimely turnovers the Browns have had a lead going into the 4th quarter every week. This team has the chance to beat any team they play and this is without their $230 million dollar quarterback. Once this team is able to put a difference-maker behind the center these close losses will become wins.
Positive #3: Division Standing
Luckily for the Browns, the rest of the AFC North is also struggling. The Browns currently sit in second place in their division 1 game behind Baltimore. If Cleveland can keep the division lead in site by the time Watson returns it could make for an exciting race for the division down the stretch. Key division games remain with Baltimore and Cincinnati prior to Watson’s return but if the Browns can continue to play offense the way they have thus far there is no reason they couldn’t win both of those games.
Now it’s time for the bad news…
Negative #1: The Defense
Much maligned coordinator Joe Woods is leading an underperforming undisciplined unit that just can’t seem to get it right. PFF has the Browns rated as the 28th-ranked defense overall. The number one reason for this is that the run defense is ranked dead last in the league. This team was supposed to only be as good as the defense this year, instead, the defense has been the reason the Browns have a losing record. Fingers are being pointed all around some blame Joe Woods due to the lack of improvement and undisciplined play of his defense. Some people are blaming the players for not taking accountability and playing better. Some people are even blaming Andrew Berry for letting the talent in the D-Line atrophy to this point. Unfortunately, there is no one person or group to blame. The bottom line is that they are all culpable for the subpar results that they put onto the field.
Negative #2: Special Teams
If there is one coordinator on this team that could go tomorrow without causing many Browns fans to shed a tear it’s Mike Preifer. From bewildering return decisions, the inability to properly cover an onside kick, and missed kicks in critical situations this special teams unit is a mess, and I am not ready to put the majority of the blame on the players. This unit is bad, and it’s time to make a change at the top.
Negative #3: 4th Quarter Breakdowns
The biggest negative to me seems to be that this team is anti-clutch. When it is crunch time this team has fallen apart in all phases of the game. If it’s not an interception it’s a blown coverage or a missed kick. For some reason, this team hasn’t shown the ability to keep performing in the most critical of circumstances. It’s what makes me nervous every game. I don’t have faith that they can keep any lead.
There it is ladies and gentlemen, 3 good and 3 bad. So tell me – do you agree with these negatives and positives?