Browns Commit 18 Penalties In Trouncing To Tennessee 43-13
Written by Brandon Lewis on September 9, 2019
Photo Credit: si.com
The Browns started the 2019 season the same way they ended the 2018 season, scoring a touchdown on their opening drive.
Then, it all went downhill.
The Browns committed 18 penalties for a total of 182 yards. The 18 penalties are the most penalties the Browns have committed in any game since 1951. Not to mention the fact that left tackle Greg Robinson got ejected from the game in the second quarter due to kicking Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro in the face, and it was just a bad look for the Browns on Sunday. They just look undisciplined, and it was not a good look for Freddie Kitchens in his debut as the head man. They were out coached in every aspect of the game. You could argue that a lot of the calls were ticky-tack by the officials, but every official calls the game differently, and it’s up to the team to adjust. 18 penalties in any scenario is just inexcusable, and Kitchens and the Browns must correct the sloppiness immediately if they want to make the playoffs this year for the first time since 2002.
After the opening drive in which the Browns marched down the field in nine plays for 73 yards for a touchdown, the Browns only scored seven more points the rest of the contest. I think part of the struggles on offense had to do with the Robinson ejection, and the fact that the Browns had to shuffle their offensive line around the whole game, and they could not protect Baker Mayfield, but I also think the second year quarterback did not look like himself after the opening drive. I did not see the swagger out of him that he normally possesses. Instead of him jumping for joy on every play, it was a lot of him shaking his head. Mayfield also had precautionary x-rays on his hand after the game, but Kitchens said he’s fine in his post game presser.
The good news for the Browns offense was that when Mayfield did have time, he looked good until the fourth quarter. Through the first three quarters, Mayfield was 22-32(69% completion percentage) with one touchdown and no turnovers. In the fourth, Mayfield was 3-9(33% completion percentage) with zero touchdowns and three interceptions, including a pick six by Super Bowl 49 MVP Malcolm Butler with under ten seconds remaining to add salt to the wound. I thought Mayfield forced the ball in the fourth, but I also thought Tennessee’s defense locked down the Browns skill position players in the final frame as well. Odell Beckham Jr did have seven catches for 71 yards in his Browns debut, so that is a good sign going forward there in my estimation.
The Browns rushing offense was good when they actually handed the ball off. Second year running back Nick Chubb out of Georgia ran the rock for 75 yards on 17 carries, averaging 4.4 yards per attempt. His longest run of the day went for 15 yards, which if you take that away, he still ran 16 times for 61 yards, netting almost four yards a pop.
My problem with the Browns rushing attack yesterday was how Kitchens and the offensive staff went about it. They gave Dontrell Hilliard only one carry, and that was the play in which they scored their opening drive touchdown. Rookie D’Ernest Johnson only carried the ball once, but he got 13 yards on that carry, and Mayfield never had a rushing attempt.
I get trying to protect Mayfield from getting injured, but I think I would have sprinkled in some design runs to keep the defense of the Titans, an attacking one under Dean Pees, honest. I thought the Browns should have stuck with the run more and hopefully Kitchens learns that even when it’s a two score game in the third quarter, you still have to run the ball, and that it is not time to go warp speed with trying to throw the ball all over the yard.
Steve Wilks debut as the defensive coordinator did not go as planned. The defense gave up 34 out of the 43 points Tennessee scored, and they got beat every way they could. The Browns do have a great defensive line with former No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett, Sheldon Richardson, Olivier Vernon and Larry Ogunjobi, but they did not produce well enough. While they did get four sacks, most of them came early in the game, and new Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith called a lot of screens and shot plays to counter the Browns aggressiveness up front, and it worked.
The run defense was also not good as the Titans ran for 123 yards, averaging 4.4 yards a carry. Derrick Henry had himself a day for Tennessee as he accumulated 159 total yards(84 rushing and one 75 yard screen pass) and two touchdowns. The Browns struggled against the run last season, and they have to figure out something fast because the best teams in the NFL stop the run consistently.
The question is: Was the hype for the Browns too overblown? I think we’ll find out real quickly because next week, the Browns travel to the Jets to take on former intern head coach Gregg Williams in New York on Monday Night Football, the Browns first Monday Night game since the Kick Six back in 2015. In my opinion, if the Browns start off 0-2, they are in big trouble, so they have to come out with a sense of urgency. I like using the term adversity is the best motivator a lot, and it couldn’t be more true for the Browns entering Week 2.