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Browns offense continues to be stuck in neutral

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Sunday’s effort against Chargers was dismal, but it only continued a disturbing trend.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns fans knew there were going to be days like Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Even if they did not want to admit it.

The Browns offense was never able to get anything going in the 38-14 loss as they were just six-of-16 on third down, had just 317 yards of total offense, and looked completely out-of-sync for much (most?) of the game.

It was disappointing but not exactly surprising, given that rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield is still learning the ropes.

But what is a bit more concerning is that the game against the Chargers was not exactly an aberration.

Since taking a 42-34 lead against the Oakland Raiders late in the fourth quarter of their Week 4 game, the Browns offense has run 31 offensive drives.

And the numbers are very ugly.

On those 31 drives:

  • 17 have ended with a punt
  • 17 have consisted of five or less plays
  • 24 have gained less than 40 yards

That is in no way a recipe for success, but it is also not a reason to panic. (At least not panic a lot.)

Despite the excitement of the past few weeks, the Browns were never going to make a run at the playoffs. The team has come a long way in the opening weeks of the season, but expecting the Browns to go from 1-31 to a playoff spot - no matter how many new players were imported - was simply unrealistic.

As much promise as Mayfield brings to the quarterback position - which is considerable - he is still a rookie who is seeing opposing defenses adjust on a weekly basis.

He may not be getting much help from the coaching staff, either, who continue to give running back Carlos Hyde (2.9 yards per carry on 14 rushes against the Chargers) more work than his numbers would indicate. Head coach Hue Jackson’s weekly claim that the Browns “need to give Nick Chubb more carries” was once again empty on Sunday, as Chubb had his customary three carries despite averaging 8.3 yards per carry.

The Browns at least remembered that Duke Johnson was on the team this week as he averaged 18.2 yards on six touches (two rushes and four receptions).

It may not have ultimately made a difference, but putting the ball in the hands of Chubb and Johnson on a day when wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Antonio Callaway combined for just four receptions and 20 yards on 19 targets may not have been a bad idea.

This isn’t to imply that all hope is loss, but rather just a realization that the Browns are still a team finding its way, especially on offense.

Deep down, Browns fans knew a day like today was a possibility.

Hopefully as the weeks roll by day’s like today become the rare norm, rather than a weekly occurrence.