4 Downs: The Browns have tons of pieces to pick up after loss to Steelers

This is the least fun 4 Downs I have ever written. After the Cleveland Browns suffered multiple losses in their Monday Night Football offensive meltdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers, quarterback Deshaun Watson, and head coach Kevin Stefanski have a lot of pieces to pick up. And they now have to do it without the best running back in the NFL as the season of Nick Chubb is over after a disastrous knee injury.

All-in-all, the Browns dropped this Week 2 matchup despite their defense surrendering just 12 points, losing 26-22. Watson still looks as putrid as he did a year ago and they offense cannot seem to get it going. With 15 weeks left and a matchup against the Tennessee Titans on the horizon, the quarterback and head coach have to sit down and hash this out. And quickly or this loaded roster will see their season go down the drain.

Well, we have to get through it. Here is this week’s 4 Downs.

1st Down: Losing to a team whose defense outscored their offense is tough to come back from

Browns Deshaun Watson Nick Chubb Steelers
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

You cannot surrender just 12 points defensively and lose a game. It is completely inexcusable offensively to give the Steelers 14 points on a silver platter. The Steelers did not run a single play inside the Cleveland 30-yard line all night.

This unit led by defensive coordinator has surrendered just 15 points in two weeks and deserves to be 2-0.

These are games that must be easy wins for this football team. But when the ball is turned over four times, the game is going to hit the fan quite quickly. And it did. It is completely mind-boggling how this same team had a top-10 offense with Jacoby Brissett and Baker Mayfield under center, but cannot field a competent unit with a once elite quarterback now making $46 million per year.

They will need to come back and punch back against the Tennessee Titans this week, a team quite similar to the Steelers philosophically and on paper. Can they rebound and show they can dig deep? We are about to find out.

2nd Down: The Browns must avoid trying to replace Nick Chubb

Browns Deshaun Watson Nick Chubb Steelers
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

You cannot replace Nick Chubb.

And the Browns will not try to. This is now on Jerome Ford and Pierre Strong Jr. to step up. While they are not Chubb, the duo did a decent job down the stretch. Ford, while most of his yards came on one explosive run, finished the game with over 100 yards on the day.

This is going to be the way moving forward. There is not a back that can come into the building and save this team. They are not going to pony up and trade for Jonathan Taylor. The efficiency is going to drop, the Browns are losing the most efficient back in the NFL.

However, Ford and Strong Jr. are both plenty explosive and capable of ripping off big runs. The down-to-down effectiveness is still to be seen though.

3rd Down: An elite defense can only carry you so far

Browns Deshaun Watson Nick Chubb Steelers
Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing more could have been asked of the Cleveland defense. They gave up 12 points and the offense gave away 14. They provided constant pressure all game long and created two turnovers.

Make no mistake, this defensive unit will carry the Browns far. The evolution of more two-high defenses are limiting explosive plays offensively, leaving room for defensive dominance to impact the overall health of teams.

However, the Browns are not winning a Super Bowl without a competent offense. The Browns are not winning a playoff game without a competent offense. The Browns will struggle to win 10 games without a competent offense.

And the Browns do not have a competent offense right now.

This is on the head coach and the quarterback to get together and figure this out. Schwartz and his unit are doing all they can. They quite literally cannot do more. The Browns need to play complimentary football. Or else.

4th Downs: This regime can't outrun their own doing

Browns Deshaun Watson Nick Chubb Steelers
Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

We are a couple of weeks away from accepting what is becoming obvious: this regime is going to have to lay in the bed they made for themselves.

Watson has been one of the league’s very worst quarterbacks through his eight games with the Browns. He is categorically ranked among the likes of Zach Wilson and Justin Fields this year at the bottom of the barrel. And they owe him $140 million in guaranteed money beyond this season.

If this does not work out, heads are going to roll and those losing their jobs will have nobody to blame but themselves. The clock is ticking and there is nowhere to run or hide.

General manager Andrew Berry might have a longer leash, but Stefanski will not. The entire Watson saga will hang over this franchise and have more of a grim impact than 1-31 ever had.

Extra Point: The offensive line is losing its shine

Browns Deshaun Watson Nick Chubb Steelers
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It goes beyond just the left tackle.

While left tackle Jedrick Wills is a massive problem, center Ethan Pocic was also a massive liability in this game. Quarterback-taken sacks have to be separated as well as Watson runs into quite a bit of traffic himself, but this offensive line has lost its shine since their dominance in 2020 and 2021.

Rookie Dawand Jones held his own but overall had an up-and-down showing in his first career start as well.

And there are no upgrades to be made as the Browns have invested a ton of money into this unit. They are not going to bench Wills for the lesser James Hudson. Pocic is going to continue to play over Nick Harris (although his contract is easier to navigate).

Bill Callahan and this unit just have to work through their struggles right now and come out better next week against the Titans.

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Story originally appeared on Browns Wire