Rinse and Repeat
- For the second week in a row, Cleveland’s defense will have the luxury of facing a bad offensive line. Making matters worse for Washington is that starting RG Brandon Scherff, a three-time Pro Bowler, is now on injured reserve. Wes Schweitzer will fill in for Scherff, and while he has some starting experience with the Falcons, it is a clear downgrade for them.
- Although he was better in Week 2, starting LT Geron Christian was the worst-graded offensive tackle in the NFL in Week 1, as you can see from one of his lowlights below. Starting LG Wes Martin was the second-worst ranked guard in the NFL for Week 1.
According to PFF, Geron Christian was the worst left tackle in the NFL on Sunday, and I’m not really inclined to disagree. pic.twitter.com/182TAbz3L9— Matt Valdovinos (@MVScouting) September 17, 2020
- Although QB Dwayne Haskins take off occasionally, that’s not the quarterback he tries to be. Haskins typically protects the football, but Pro Football Focus says that he has taken a step back with regard to his accuracy in 2020:
Through two weeks, the Washington signal-caller has earned the second-lowest passing grade in the NFL, at 47.8. And while he’s taken great care of the ball once again — his 1.9% turnover-worthy play rate ranked fourth in the NFL last year, while his mark of 1.3% ranks sixth in 2020 — the accuracy has been really concerning. Haskins has thrown just four accurate passes beyond 10 yards downfield this year, while he already has 10 completely uncatchable throws at the same depth. This was an issue last season, too, as he had the fifth-worst accuracy rate on such throws.
- Washington still has an X-Factor in WR Terry McLaurin, which is why it’ll be a bit concerning if CB Denzel Ward isn’t able to play against Washington. McLaurin is a great playmaker. However, if we’re comparing the young careers of Joe Burrow and Haskins, Burrow looks much further along to me — and you also have to remember that part of Cincinnati’s offensive success last week was because they were an astounding 5-of-5 on 4th down. If Cleveland can tighten things up a tad, I see Washington’s offense as being more limited than Cincinnati’s.
The Blueprint Has Been Established
- The Browns’ blueprint for offensive success went haywire in Week 1 because of the nature of trying to go score for score against the Ravens. In Week 2, things were executed to near perfection. The Browns had five touchdown drives, with a great mix of the passing game and running game.
- The basic blueprint for Cleveland has been established: Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are a great duo, and this offensive line (and the other players, like FB Andy Janovich), can block really well. The beauty of having that blueprint established is that over the season, it allows Kevin Stefanski to try to catch teams off guard with some other aggressive or creative playcalls. When I say that, I am not so much referring to trick plays as I am creating one-on-one opportunities for Cleveland’s receivers, or freeing the tight end when the defense expects run.
- Washington’s defense is much better than Cincinnati’s. The biggest thing to watch is how they can get to the quarterback, led by DE Chase Young, who has 2.5 sacks over the first two games of his NFL career. Washington leads the NFL with 11 sacks, although 8 of those came against the Eagles in Week 1. Cleveland has had 10 days to prepare for some schematic advantages, and with how Baker Mayfield has been kept clean through two games, I think the offensive line will be up to the challenge, especially with returning RT Jack Conklin.
Other Things of Note
- K Cody Parkey was 5-of-5 on extra points last week, but touchdowns aren’t going to come every time. Made or missed field goals play a big role in momentum swings of a game, and it’ll be curious to see how Stefanski plays those situations — going for it on fourth down, or bringing the field goal unit out. Last week, he went for it on 4th-and-goal from the 2 yard line after several consecutive stops.
- We could see several new things on defense for Cleveland this week. Now that he’s had a few weeks of practice under his belt, Ronnie Harrison could be due for a bigger role in favor of Andrew Sendejo. LB Mack Wilson also hopes to return to action at linebacker, and CB Kevin Johnson will either be the nickelback, or start for CB Denzel Ward if he can’t play.
- Cleveland’s special teams coverage has to be better on kickoffs, or Parkey has to get the ball into the end zone for touchbacks. Right now, it doesn’t look like either is happening. Much of the personnel is the same from a year ago on coverage, so hopefully special teams coordinator Mike Priefer can coach this group up again.
Here are predictions from multiple staff members at DBN.
Chris Pokorny: “Washington has the potential to pull off some victories this season because of their defense, and the fact that they don’t turn the ball often on offense. This is truly a game where if Cleveland doesn’t shoot themselves in the foot with turnovers, they will eventually knock on the door with enough scores to out-pace Washington.” Browns 24, Football Team 17
Thomas Moore: “Washington poses a threat with its pass rush, which leads the NFL with 11 sacks. The Browns will counter that with an old-school approach of pounding Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the running game with much success. Defensively, the Browns will make life difficult for Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins and Washington’s 31st-ranked offense, reminding everyone in the process the folly of drafting a quarterback from Ohio State.” Browns 28, Football Team 10
rufio: “Brownies are cooking again on offense, as Chubb tops 100 yards and Baker connects with OBJ on a highlight play for the second straight game. Chase Young causes a few problems and gets a sack, but the Browns put up points. Things are really starting to click on offense.
On the other side of the ball, the Browns’ defense starts slowly breaking out of it’s shell. We see a few more blitz looks this week but still give up some points. Terry McLaurin hauls in a few long passes but not enough to win.” Browns 30, Football Team 24
Barry Shuck: “This matchup is a tough one. Before the season began, it appeared to be a short-fire “W” for the Browns. Now that the beginning of the season is unfolding, WFT doesn’t look that bad and has a very good defense. Cleveland, however, got smoked and then barely defeated last year’s worst team. Both clubs are stingy against the run, which is the Browns’ strength. Washington is not good against the pass, so perhaps that is where they should attack the most and use the pass to set up the run using dumps to Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb and get those two Pro Bowl wide receivers going.” Browns 27, Football Team 13
Who do you think will win, Browns fans? Let us know in the comments section below.