5 quick takeaways from the Browns brutal loss to the Jets

Jeff Risdon
·4 min read

The Cleveland Browns picked a very bad time to have a very bad game. Down several key starters due to injuries and a COVID-19 contact tracing outbreak that crippled the offense just hours before kickoff, the Browns fell to the 1-win Ney York Jets, 23-16.

Cleveland falls to 10-5 with the gut-wrenching loss, losing control of the top Wild Card seed in the process.

It was a tough game to watch. The Browns offense was badly neutered by missing left tackle Jedrick Wills, right guard Wyatt Teller and the top four wideouts on the roster. The Jets, to their credit, played solid on defense and made just enough plays on offense to capture their second win in a row.

Too many missing pieces to complete the comeback puzzle

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Trying to come back from a 10-point deficit while missing more than half the players who would normally be on the field was just a bridge too far for Baker Mayfield and the Browns. For all the talk of the missing receivers, it was not having Wills at LT and Teller at RG that ultimately ruined the Browns. Reserve tackle Kendall Lamm could not handle Jets EDGE Tarell Basham, while backup RG Nick Harris got blown away by John Franklin-Myers down the stretch. Those two Jets defenders made huge plays that ended two drives in the fourth quarter.

Flat first half was tough to watch

(AP Photo/Corey Sipkin)

The first half was a flashback to the Hue Jackson era. The offense showed no chemistry or cohesion, befitting a team playing without two starting lineman and the top four wideouts. The defense couldn't string together two good plays in a row and got badly snookered on a (really well-done) gadget play by the Jets. Most troubling was the Browns inability to run the ball. Check the net rushing in the first half box score... While it's understandable for the offense to sputter without Jedrick Wills, Wyatt Teller and the regular WR corps, it was unexpected to see Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt both get tackled on runs where they have broken free many times this season. They just couldn't get a break.

The secondary communication was rotten

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The touchdown pass from Darnold to Crowder to cap the Jets' opening drive of the second half is a great example. The Cleveland secondary just got lost in coverage. https://twitter.com/Jake_Trotter/status/1343283222759800838?s=20 The same sort of miscommunication plagued the Browns on New York's first Darnold-to-Crowder touchdown. Denzel Ward turned the receiver over instead of sticking with him in man coverage. The safeties were otherwise occupied. These are mistakes that shouldn't be happening to the Browns this late in the season. The regular starting five were all on the field for the Browns secondary in both gaffes

The special teams adventure continues

(AP Photo/Corey Sipkin)

The Browns committed three total penalties on special teams on the afternoon, including a dumb roughing the kicker infraction on little-used safety Jovante Moffatt. There was a missed field goal by punter Jamie Gillan to end the first half. Nobody should ever fault a punter for missing a 61-yard attempt, but it was still a miss. Now when the kicker blows a critical extra point, as Cody Parkey did when the Browns closed to 20-16, that's inexcusable. And these problems keep happening for Mike Priefer's unit and kicker Cody Parkey. There were some positives. Sheldon Richardson did block two kicks and D'Ernest Johnson was fine on returns. But on a day where the Browns couldn't afford any mistakes, the special teams units made too many of them.

Quick hits

(AP Photo/Corey Sipkin)

Some quick observations from the game:

  • It's not an excuse because the door definitely swung both ways, but this was not a well-officiated game by referee Land Clark and his crew.

  • The run/pass split is something Kevin Stefanski will question, and will be questioned of him. Cleveland threw the ball 53 times and ran just 18. With Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt healthy and every wide receiver anyone knows out. Game script certainly dictated some of it, and the lack of effective running early likely played a factor too. But that's going too far against the culture for the offense.

  • Mayfield wasn't at his sharpest, but he did not get help. I counted six dropped passes that should have been caught, two by rookie TE Harrison Bryant.

  • Two Browns who turned in great efforts: DT Sheldon Richardson and LB Sione Takitaki.