After a very disappointing week one against the Baltimore Ravens, the Cleveland Browns did not look so good. In fact, it looked very similar to last year’s week one against the Titans. However, on Thursday night, the Browns showed that they’re not giving up so easily. Here are a few things that made Thursday’s game so much better.
Baker Mayfield’s Confidence Boost
It was very clear that Baker Mayfield lost confidence early on against the Ravens. However, against the Bengals, he brought a different type of mentality. He played with a lot more swagger, and a lot more confidence, which helped him out greatly. He was able to make big throws and put more trust into his receivers. He looked like rookie-year Baker Mayfield, but with a little more experience.
The Running Back Duo’s Takeover
If it wasn’t confirmed before the game, it is now: Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are the best running back duo in the NFL. They combined for 210 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground, not to mention Kareem’s receiving touchdown. The Bengals simply could not stop Chubb and Hunt, and they paid the price.
Odell Beckham Jr. Bounces Back
In week one, Odell struggled. He had only 3 catches for 22 yards, and missed a good amount of easy catches. Shortly after his below-average performance, fans were wondering if he was even worth trading for. He was doubted by many. But he came back with a vengeance in week two, getting 74 yards and a touchdown off of a bomb throw by Mayfield. It’s safe to say that the Baker-Odell connection has improved.
Offensive Line Impresses Once Again
The offensive line was a big struggle for Cleveland last year. We saw Baker take an unreal amount of sacks, and when he wasn’t sacked, he was all-out blitzed, forcing him to make a rushed throw. The additions of Jedrick Wills and Jack Conklin have certainly helped that problem. However, Conklin did not even play against the Bengals. Chris Hubbard took his place at RT, and I was very impressed by his performance. Baker had tons of time to make decisions all thanks to the offensive line.
The Defense Improves (Kind Of)
With so many injuries on the Browns defensive side, I wasn’t sure what would happen this week. The biggest losses included LB Mack Wilson and CBs Kevin Johnson and Greedy Williams. But the NFL is a next-man-up league, and that’s exactly how the Browns have to play it. Luckily, players who struggled in week one like Tavierre Thomas and Andrew Sendejo stepped up and made big plays. Denzel Ward locked up A.J. Green, forcing Joe Burrow to throw to his less reliable targets. But the biggest defensive improvement was the run defense. The defensive line did a great job of putting pressure on Burrow, while also successfully stopping the run, holding Joe Mixon to only 46 yards. The pass defense is shaky, but there’s still time to fix it.
And most importantly…. THE EXTRA POINTS WERE NOT MISSED.
Okay, okay, obviously this isn’t MOST important. But it’s still very important to make those kicks. In week one, Austin Seibert missed an extra point and a field goal, leading to his release from the team the next day. Cody Parkey was called up from the practice squad, and he performed very well, making all 5 extra point attempts. He’s yet to kick a field goal, but let’s hope that when he does, it won’t end up like the double-doink.
Even if the score was 35-30, the Browns were on fire Thursday night, and they’ll be looking to keep the same energy in Week 3 against the Washington Football Team.