The Cleveland Browns have not been able to count on much from the offense through the first five weeks of the season.
But at least they have been able to count on left guard Joel Bitonio and center JC Tretter.
In what has been a predictable mess along the offensive line, the two veterans have stood out with top five rankings at their positions from Pro Football Focus, with Bitonio checking in as the fifth best guard and Tretter as the fourth best center in the NFL:
Bitonio has been one of the most consistent players on the Browns offense through five weeks, with all of his PFF game grades falling between 65.5 and 82.3. In pass protection, he has allowed two sacks and eight hits on 200 pass-blocking snaps, while he has produced an 81.8 PFF run-blocking grade on 116 snaps in that facet of his game.
Tretter’s consistency in pass protection has been one of the bright spots for the Browns offense so far this season, with the former Green Bay Packer allowing zero sacks or hits on 200 pass-blocking snaps. While he hasn’t been perfect in pass protection, allowing four hurries, the fact that he is allowing less than one pressure per game is impressive.
In news that should surprise no one who watches the Browns, starting tackles Greg Robinson and Chris Hubbard, along with right guard Eric Kush are not among the top of the rankings.
It was obvious in the offseason that the offensive line was going to be a problem after general manager John Dorsey decided to retain Robinson based off him being better than Desmond Harrison for eight games. Dorsey doubled-down on that by replacing one of the league’s best guards, Eric Zeitler, with a player who was benched by the Chicago Bears for the second half of last season.
Browns fans see it play out on a weekly basis as Mayfield is under almost constant pressure every time he drops back to pass. Mayfield has also developed a tendency to roll to his right as he appears to have zero confidence in Robinson protecting his blindside.
Whether the pressure is real, or Mayfield is anticipating pressure because he doesn’t trust that Robinson can do his job, is almost beside the point. It clearly has Mayfield off his game and the ensuing results have not been pretty, as Anthony Treash of PFF points out:
Nearly 50% of Mayfield’s pressured drop backs in 2019 have ended with him outside of the pocket (highest in NFL). His adjusted completion percentage on those passes is over 20% lower than any other quarterback in the league, and he is averaging just 1.2 yards per attempt. Last night, Mayfield had six drop backs under pressure and outside the pocket, with one leading to a sack and the other five leading to incomplete passes. In other words, his offensive line is giving up a good amount of pressure and Baker is trying to overcompensate for it.
There is still time for the Browns to figure out a solution to the problem as no one is running away with the AFC North Division at the moment.
If only there was a way to clone Tretter and Bitonio, then the problem would be solved.