What Have We Learnt Through The First Two Weeks Of The Browns Season.

By Jamie Gribble – Cleveland Browns Writer

After what can only be described as a disappointing Week 1 for the Cleveland Browns, Week 2 seemed to be the start of the promised new chapter under rookie Head Coach Freddie Kitchens when the Cleveland Browns rolled into the MetLife stadium and bullied a New York Jets side that is struggling with a growing injury list.

The Browns Defense and Myles Garrett dominated the Jets Offense!

It was clear after week one’s loss to the Tennessee Titans, that the Browns would need to eliminate many of the 18 penalties conceded. This started with a much-improved performance from the Browns defense, perfectly epitomized by the ever-powerful Myles Garrett, who had himself 3 sacks on the night to take his season total to 5.

“I’m glad about the sacks” Garrett said, when he was asked how he felt about the outcome.

This puts Myles Garrett at the top of the pile in terms of sacks in 2019, second only to back-to-back defensive player of the year, Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald since the start of 2018. This makes great reading for Garrett, who has openly discussed the potential of winning the defensive player of the year this very year. In truth, Garrett impressed all night, continually getting into the face of the Jets quarterbacks. The 6ft 5in, defensive end never took his foot of the gas as he bullied Jets left tackle Kelvin Beachum, forcing him back into the quarterback on numerous occasions.

Despite his impressive performance, all attention could well be turned to the discipline of Garrett, due to his 3 penalties on the night, 2 of which were for roughing the passer. Nonetheless, Freddie Kitchens stressed after the game that despite his penalties, Garrett is going to continue to get after the quarterback. That’s why the Browns drafted him with the No. 1 overall pick in 2017.

Garrett was however remorseful after the game, claiming he needs to improve on his discipline and help his teammates by not conceding penalties.

(I’m) Disappointed in those penalties and those negative plays against my team. I’m supposed to be a leader on this defense and this team so, I can’t be saying this, doing that and also having those negative plays affecting my team like that.”

Myles Garrett on his discipline against the Jets.

As impressive as Myles Garrett was at getting into the backfield, the rest of the defense cannot go unmentioned. Through the first two weeks of the season, the Browns have only conceded 14 receptions to receivers, reflecting their aggressive pass rush defense. T.J. Carrie was in the right place at the right time to catch a Le’Veon Bell fumble late in the game, forced by the tackle of Joe Schobert, who himself, was terrific all game.

The Browns defense through the first two weeks has been one of the shining lights, helping them through 3 quarters, its helped them remain in the game against Tennessee in week one before it all fell apart on both sides of the ball, and stifling a damaged Jets offense in week two.

As impressive as this performance was by the Browns defense, it has to be remembered that this was a very depleted New York Jets offense. With backup QB Trevor Siemian injured during the first half, the Jets had their 3rd string QB, Luke Falk, play more than half the game. The Cleveland Browns defense will have a much tougher test waiting for them at home when Jared Goff and the SuperBowl runners up, LA Rams roll into town in week three for Sunday Night Football.

Baker Mayfield and the Browns Offence is only scratching the surface of its potential:

On the other side of the ball, Odell Beckham Jr slipped straight back into comfortable surroundings at the MetLife Stadium, when he rolled back the years hauling in a one-handed catch for 33-yards. It just so happened to be on the same side and almost the same spot, of the stadium as that famous catch against the Dallas Cowboys back in 2014.

Not a bad answer to New York Jets Defensive Coordinator, Gregg Williams comments of “Odell who?”, Prior to the game.

The 33 yard catch on the first Cleveland drive of the game resulted in a first NFL field goal for rookie kicker, Austin Seibert. A good start for an offense which struggled and finished with 3 interceptions in the 4th quarter against the Titans.

That kick would be the first of three field goals made by Austin Seibert, with the others coming either side of a well executed 19-yard touchdown run by Nick Chubb. The offensive line did a remarkable job of creating a running lane for Chubb, who made no mistake in finding the gaps, penetrating the space available and falling into the end zone after an unsuccessful Jets tackle.

However, much like the week one, Baker Mayfield continued to struggle for any sort of rhythm in the passing game, and in all honesty, Mayfield struggled all night when it came to reading the defense of the New York Jets. Former Cleveland Browns interim Head Coach, Gregg Williams, now the Jets Defensive Coordinator, did a remarkable job of showing Mayfield ‘false looks’.

The Jets defense did a good job executing Williams’ plan to perfection and it caused Mayfield trouble the entire game.

Mayfield, who threw 19 of 35 for 325 yards, on what can probably be described as a stuttering performance, has thrown for 4335 yards in his first 16 games, a feat which can only be surpassed by recently retired Andrew Luck, and exciting play maker Patrick Mahomes. However, during this same period, Mayfield has also thrown 18 interceptions, something of which he needs to address if the expectations of this Browns team is to fulfill its full capacity.

Mayfield had multiple situations where he could’ve checked the ball to Nick Chubb for some chunk yardage, and he is fully aware he needs to improve when it comes to getting completions and not turning the ball over.

“I think i need to be better at checking the ball down, getting completions” Mayfield said. “I said it last week after watch that tape, completions, getting the ball in our guy’s hands and just putting us in a good position, keeping the chains moving, keeping the positivity rolling.

Baker Mayfield on his early-season form.

Of course, it wasn’t all that bad as one play significantly demonstrated the talent and potential this offense has when they play at the same tempo. Odell Beckham Jr followed up his spectacular one handed catch in the first half with an 89-yard catch and run touchdown. Mayfield’s darting pass, sought out Beckham Jr on the slant, and the second he caught the ball, he knew he was going to go all the way to the house.

“I knew it was going to be a big play” OBJ said post win. “I saw the safety (Marcus) Maye, as I caught it, he knew I was taking the angle to the right, I saw him duck his head down and I just made a cut, and I knew I was going to be out of there if my hamstrings could hold up.”

Odell Beckham on THAT big play.

The first two weeks will probably be remembered for some of the outlandish skill on show from Beckham Jr, but with the LA Rams heading the First Energy Stadium in Week 3, OBJ, Baker, and co will need to find that next level in order to keep it a competitive game.

‘The Scottish Hammer’ Jamie Gillan could be a diamond in the rough:

Some may find it hard to believe that Gillan found football boring!

After all this is exactly how he described his first experience, “I didn’t follow football at all. I watched two teams play at Wembley when i was a kid, and i was so bored.” Quite the journey then, which has led the rookie punter to the AFC Special Team Player of the Week in only his second week in the NFL.

Gillan has punted 11 times through the first two weeks, and remarkably only one of those has been returned, for a grand total of 5 yards. Remarkably, out of the 11 punts Gillan has kicked, 8 have been inside the opponents 20 yard line, with 5 of those coming against the Jets!

Gillan is also the Browns first punter to win AFC Special Team Player of the Week, since 2013 when Spencer Lanning won the award. Needless to say then, the man nicknamed ‘The Scottish Hammer’ could well be one of Cleveland’s most important weapons throughout the season. The 22-year-olds ability to push the opposition deep into their own territory and create high-pressure situations is where the defense can take advantage is something of huge desire in the NFL.

What’s Next?

The Jets were the perfect remedy for the Browns in Week 2, as waiting just around the corner is one of the most powerful teams in the NFL, the Los Angeles Rams.

The Browns will have to be much improved on the offence to make the game any sort of contest, having to navigate a difficult Rams defense with star Defensive End, Aaron Donald breathing down Baker’s throat. The Browns were much more improved in week one as opposed to week two, but they will have to find a much higher gear to get past the Rams.

If the defense can control their aggression when trying to get to quarterback Jared Goff, and stop evasive running back Todd Gurley, then they have every chance they can stop, what has at times, been a sluggish Rams offense.

Overall, although we have seen improvements, it’s going to take a lot more over the field, not just for the upcoming battle with LA, but moving forward as the weeks come at them. The Browns need to get as tough as the schedule that lies ahead of them. If theBrowns really want to dream of Superbowl stardom, then they simply must stop scratching at the potential, and rip the band-aid off!

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