We have once again come to “Turn the page Tuesday” without a lot of positivity to focus on. The Cleveland Browns lost to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 4 and now sit at 2-2. The goal of this feature is to end the conversations about what has happened and start the conversations about what could happen in Week 5.
Fans Want Change
Doesn’t matter what it is, after Week 4 fans want changes. DC Joe Woods? Fired. HC Kevin Stefanski? Give up playing calling. Special teams coach Mike Priefer? Not special enough.
On the field, Jacoby Brissett missed a couple of throws so he isn’t good enough. Amari Cooper got shut down (by a very good cornerback) in mostly 1-on-1 coverage so he needs more help. Don’t get us started on the defense.
In the end, fans will always call for change after losses and sometimes after wins. Only after consistent winning season after season will fans accept that losses happen, bad plays happen, coaching decisions fail and no one is perfect. Even then, based on my experience covering the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers, fans will want change when a team becomes on the “championship or bust” level.
Losing Isn’t Fun
Many of us watch sports like others read books, play video games, get into episodic television shows or exercise. Some of us do a variety of these things including watching sports. The goal is quite simple, to enjoy our time.
Losing is not enjoyable.
What is interesting is that fans, not limited to those in Cleveland, seem to like to revel in that unenjoyable losing for days after it. Everyone hates when their team loses but to harp on the negatives, only talk about the bad and stay focused on what went wrong gives us the opposite reaction than the original goal of fun.
Part of the goal of these features will be to hopefully turn the page and conversation from last week’s loss to what could actually be enjoyable this upcoming Sunday.
Chargers Haven’t Been Very Good
While the Los Angeles Chargers are good in theory, in practice they haven’t been very good. The injuries have piled up and the deficiencies are showing. The Chargers two victories have come against two of the worst teams in the NFL. The one-win Las Vegas Raiders gave Los Angeles everything they could handle in Week 1 while the 0-3-1 Houston Texans scored 17 straight points in the third and fourth quarters before losing in Week 4.
Justin Herbert, Khalil Mack, Derwin James, Keenan Allen and J.C. Jackson are some big names but, like Cleveland, haven’t produced up to their talent level including only scoring 10 points at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
10 AM Game for Los Angeles
Something that is sometimes lost before a game is the time change but West Coast teams traveling to the east tends to struggle:
The Chargers body clocks will be at 10 AM when the game kicks off Sunday, which should help the Browns.
Either/Or or Both/And
Getting both Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney back would be great. Getting one or the other back will still be very helpful. Cleveland fans can celebrate if only one of them plays. Obviously, Garrett is a much more important piece of the puzzle but just getting Clowney back would help the run defense greatly.
Extending Plays and Finding Space
While Los Angeles has a lot of talent, it is their ability to extend plays and find space on offense that could cause the most trouble for the Browns. The big-bodied Herbert is dangerous after shaking of tackles and can either run the ball or heave it downfield. Austin Ekeler and Allen are pros at finding holes in zones and making themselves available to Herbert.
The concerns around the home team’s defense are real and the Chargers have the type of players that can expose it. Kind of like a better version of the Atlanta team that just beat them.
Can’t Forget Mike Williams
On the road last year, Cleveland’s defense gave up eight catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns to the big, fast receiver from Los Angeles. He can’t be forgotten about by fans. GM Andrew Berry didn’t forget and is hoping that rookie CB Martin Emerson is capable of making things tough for Williams with his size and aggressive nature. Greg Newsome II is also one who likes a physical challenge in coverage as well.
Browns Offense is Humming
Despite not throwing the ball for over 200 yards a game, on average, Cleveland’s offense is tied with the pass-happy Kansas City Chiefs for the fourth most yards in the NFL through four weeks. “Tied with Kansas City” and “fourth most yards in the NFL” are both things worth celebrating.
The Browns are also tied for sixth in points per game through four games at 26.3 with the Chargers five spots back at 23.0 points per game.
A lot to celebrate on offense.
Chubb, Hunt The Reasons for the Excitement...
... along with the offensive line.
Nick Chubb is just four yards behind Saquon Barkley for the most rushing yards in the NFL. Miles Sanders has the third most yards but is over 100 yards behind Chubb. Chubb is also tied for the third most carries in the league, just three behind Barkley’s 84 attempts.
Kareem Hunt is in the top 30 in rushing yards with an even 200 on just 46 carries.
Despite teams knowing the Browns are going to run the ball, they continue to run the ball quite well. There is some concern about wearing out Chubb but that might be required until QB Deshaun Watson returns to the team.
Week 5 is Winnable
What looked like the start of a very difficult stretch of games has now become a winnable game. Outside of the travel issue noted above, the injuries to Rashawn Slater and Joey Bosa are massive to the team. Los Angeles has some talent but getting Garrett or Clowney back should be just enough to make this game a toss-up and give Cleveland a chance to go to 3-2 and hold on to their lead in the division.
A win in Week 5 will give fans lots of things to celebrate and allow them to focus on all the positives.