I woke up this morning with what had to be the same attitude as all Cleveland Browns fans after yesterday’s Week 1 loss; feeling equal parts cranky, let down, and cynical. It’s been this way the Monday after the season opener for the past eleven years.
After getting walloped by the New York Jets 31-10 in yet another embarrassing season debut, the Browns aren’t exactly giving fans hope for a positive year. Despite some flashes here and there, Cleveland overall struggled in every facet of the game yesterday. The team claims they’ll spend the week regrouping to ensure this doesn’t happen again, but I’m not sure if that’ll be enough time to fix all the mistakes from their loss.
While they take the next few days to lick their wounds, I can’t help but ask myself what the Browns did to prepare for yesterday’s game. The snarky response would be “nothing,” especially looking at how badly Cleveland struggled on both offense and defense. At the same time, it can’t be understated how unprepared the Browns looked yesterday.
You also can’t ignore the fact the team has absolutely no excuse for such a thing.
All offseason long, the Browns claimed they were focusing on two things: stopping the run on defense and building an offense which relied on the ground game. The team literally had months to prepare for its first game of the season, plenty of time to strategize for the Jets’ rushing attack and figure out how to create holes for its own running backs.
If yesterday is what we’re going to see from Cleveland after months of prep time, there isn’t much to get excited about for the rest of the year.
It’s inexplicable for a team to put so much onus on improving the run defense, only to get run over by Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell. The defensive line was pushed around all day long, as the holes they allowed all last year were present once again. There’s no sugar-coating the fact everyone on the defense appeared as though it was their first time on the field.
Even worse, Cleveland’s apparent bread-and-butter on offense was supposed to be the running game. And yet, somehow backs Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson each rushed for less yardage than quarterback Josh McCown. This fact is made even worse after realizing McCown only lasted one drive before leaving the game injured.
Part of the problem was the fact the Browns’ offensive line was a mess all day long. This is supposed to be the team’s biggest strength, yet it couldn’t create any holes whatsoever. Said line features two Pro-Bowlers (Joe Thomas and Alex Mack), as well as the team’s best draft pick from last season (Joel Bitonio), yet you certainly couldn’t tell yesterday.
So, after spending an offseason trying to build a solid run defense, the Browns were pushed around all day. After refusing to add any real playmakers in the receiving corps under the impression the rushing attack would be the true hero of the offense, none of the running backs could move the ball.
This was supposed to be the easy portion of Cleveland’s schedule. The hope was, with a gauntlet of top-tier teams awaiting the Browns after Week 3, they could at the very least use the first few games to gather some momentum.
Instead, Cleveland looked as though it just plain wasn’t ready to start the season. The defense got run over, the secondary got worked, the running backs had no lanes to run through, and couldn’t gain anything even when they did find a hole.
The Browns now need to do whatever they can to make vast improvements to all aspects of their team as soon as physically possible. Based on what we saw yesterday, the team is at square one, and their inexplicable lack of preparation is to blame for this.
How could the team spend the last few months selling the idea the run defense and offense would be key components of the upcoming season, only to look so utterly incompetent? How does the team, as a whole, look like it didn’t find out who it’s Week 1 opponent was until late Saturday night? Just what exactly did the Browns do to game-plan for yesterday?
I personally have no idea what the answers are to any of these questions. I’m more concerned with the fact the team might not be able to answer them either.