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Brownies and Frownies: Ravens stomp Browns 38-6 in opener

Right out of the gate Cleveland had to face the AFC North Division winner

Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens
David Njoku #85 of the Browns catches a pass against Tavon Young #25 of the Baltimore Ravens during the first half at M&T Bank Stadium 
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The Browns were 30th against the run last year with an average of five yards a carry plus allowed the fourth-most rushing touchdowns.

So, how did GM Andrew Berry address this concern? He signed Andrew Billings, a talented DT to help that interior portion of the defensive front. Yet, Billings opted out with the COVID option. Annually one of the team’s leading tacklers MLB Joe Schobert is now with Jacksonville. In his stead was signed B.J. Goodson whom the New York Football Giants and the Green Bay Packers both dumped.

Last season, the Baltimore Ravens were the number one rushing club. They accumulated the most rushing yards, best yards per carry (5.5 average) and scored the second most rushing touchdowns. What did they do in the off-season? They drafted stud running back J.K. Dobbins to add to the talented backfield duo of QB Lamar Jackson and RB Mark Ingram. Ouch.

In the first game of the season for both clubs, the Ravens proved there are what we thought they were as they lambasted Cleveland 38-6.

Who had a good game for the Browns? Who didn’t?


Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers
Larry Ogunjobi
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

DT Larry Ogunjobi – The Ravens were not able to get any kind of running game going in either half. Part of this was the stout play of Ogunjobi in the middle. He had four tackles plus forced a fumble by Ravens’ fullback Patrick Ricard to stop a promising drive.

TE David Njoku – In the off-season, while all the talk was about the signing of high-priced free agent tight end Austin Hooper plus taking the Mackey Award winner Harrision Bryant in the NFL draft, Njoku was getting healthy and working out to be the best that he could be. That was proven Sunday on the few bright spots for the anemic Browns’ offense. His three catches for 50 yards simply painted a picture of being QB Baker Mayfield’s go-to guy when needed and scored the lone touchdown. With 4:38 to go in the third quarter, it was Njoku who snagged the pass to get the needed first down and continue a good drive.

DE Myles Garrett – All game long something was missing for the Browns’ defense – a pass rush; except for Garrett who had a presence in the Ravens’ backfield for a good part of the game. Garrett had one tackle for loss, a fumble recovery plus was the reason for CB Tavierre Thomas’ sack in the second half with good outside pressure which forced QB Lamar Jackson to sidestep Garrett into the arms of Thomas.


Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens
Willie Snead #83 of the Ravens scores a touchdown in front of Karl Joseph #42 of the Browns during the second half
Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Pass defense – Want this to become more specific? Impossible, because it was every pass defender all game long. The safeties were a huge issue last year, and that trend seems to be taking new life this year as well and it’s just Game 1. Karl Joseph can tackle, but can’t cover his grandma and leaves the middle wide open. Both short TD passes into the end zone was the result of CB Thomas leaving his man to the deeper zone for Joseph to pick up and failed. Veteran safety Andrew Sendejo was out-of-position quite a lot plus LB B.J. Goodson and corner Terrance Mitchell all had a bad day. Did you notice that Jackson did not scramble much all game? The reason is because every time he dropped back to pass somebody was wide-ass open.

Special Teams – WTF? Long kickoff returns, missed extra point, fake punt resulting in a fumble, missed 41-yard field goal, one yard punt return, face mask penalty on the kickoff. Aren’t the Browns supposed to have the best Special Teams coach in the league?

LT Jedrick Wills, Jr. - The rookie tackle found out that the NFL is not college football. He was twisted and jerked around all game by the man-child Calasis Campbell or the speedy Pernell McPhee. The natural right tackle is having to learn the other side without any practice games, and his trial-by-fire will be memorable against the powerful Ravens. One holding call in his first game is a plus, though.

99-yard drive - Out of everything Cleveland did or didn’t do in this game, the one thing that will become water cooler fodder Monday morning will be how the Ravens were stuck on the one-yard line and subsequently marched down the field and allowed former Ohio State stud running back J.K. Dobbins score his first-ever NFL touchdown. Leading just 10-6 in the second quarter, this drive took just 10 plays and only spent 5:48 of clock. Jackson went 5-5 on this drive for 75 yards. The success of this drive showed Baltimore defensive coordinator Don Martindale that the Browns’ major weakness is the inability to cover and set the tone for the remainder of the contest.

Milk Bones – itchy, and then silky smooth

WR Jarvis Landry – Mr. Reliable on offense had just six targets and few completions, but made the most of what was thrown his way. Five receptions for 61 yards for the Pro Bowler.

Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals
Sione Takitaki
Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

LB Sione Takitaki – The Browns’ second leading tackler (7) had a busy day and is a good tackler. He could not keep up with TE Mark Andrews whatsoever, but after Andrews would make his reception it was Takitaki there to take him down.

LB B.J. Goodson – The Browns’ leading tackler (9) got that distinction from not being able to cover anybody coming out of the backfield or Andrews. Goodson’s strategy was let the TE catch the ball, then tackle him. That seemed to work for the home team.

WR Odell Beckham, Jr. - This is a roller coaster of a player. Will practice making one-handed grabs during warm-ups and then will drop a two-handed throw when it counts. Made a crucial drop on a third-and-two with the Browns driving and still in the game. Stepped over the sideline stripe and then came back in to make a catch? Ugh. His Pro Bowl hardware is getting tarnished each year.

Running game – Wasn’t it Nick Chubb who was leading the NFL in rushing yards going into the final game last year? Didn’t Cleveland sign Kareem Hunt to a long-term deal after leading the league in rushing one-and-one-half seasons? Didn’t this offense run the ball just 27 times in the entire game divided by five players? Didn’t the Browns invest in a fullback to make this aspect of the offense more dominant?

Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens
Great pocket for the Ravens meant minimal pass rush plus limited sacks
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Sacks – Zero sacks in the first half. Zero. Two sacks for the game.

P Jamie Gillan – He had the fumble on the fake punt, but realistically the missed block by S Andrew Sendejo allowed his man to make the tackle short of the first down anyway. The Hammer boomed a 59-yard punt to the Ravens’ one-yard line and had an eye-popping 59-yard average for the game. If Gillan had made that first down on the fake punt, he would easily be named AFC Special Teams Player-of-the-Week.