Browns v. Bengals observations
The Browns beat the Bengals 21–16 to cap off a tumultuous and disappointing season of 8–9. Below are observations of a game where it appeared at times neither team wanted to be out there.
- It was clear there is a bigger difference in skill and talent between Joe Burrow/Brandon Allen of the Bengals and Baker Mayfield/Case Keenum of the Browns. There were times where the Baker/Case difference was minimal if not, Case was better. So the Browns went an entire season basically playing a hurt quarterback who wasn’t much better than their backup (who they paid 6 million/year). This was definitely a reflection season for all involved.
- Nice to see D’Earnest Johnson get some reps and get a pay raise (possibly somewhere else). He deserves it. It would be nice for Browns to keep him, but I think another team may be calling and offering more money and D’Earnest should take it while its hot. Chubb ran solid but he probably didn't have to play. Weird season for him, thought offensive line didn’t do him many favors compared to last year and yet he was still pretty dominant.
- Browns defense has been incredible the last few weeks. If the team had any sort of competent offense Browns would be in playoffs easily, might even have division won. It’s always the little things, where one side is great and the other side, not so much. Thought defense really played hard, even when it felt like things were slipping away or lost. I ripped on Joe Woods a lot, felt he got away with bad coaching. Last half of season, the defense really came to play. Too bad it was wasted on an inept offense.
- As stated above, Keenum isn’t a world beater, but it just felt like things were more under control and flowing with him at center. Baker had that occasionally this year, but not so much. Always felt like he was going to take a bad sack or turn it over. Yes Case had the fumble-six and an interception in the endzone which was like a 10–14 point turnaround, but overall I thought he played solid. The running game went nuts once again with him at quarterback, and the Browns coaches even did trick plays with him. Not sure if that means anything in grand scheme, but thought it was interesting none the less.
- The Browns need improvements in certain areas, most notably, a true #1 wide receiver; they need improvements at nose tackle and interior on defensive line. Upgrade offensive line outside of Teller and Bitonio.I would see what they can do at linebacker position again and even secondary as well. I think Andrew Berry will really focus on offense this offseason both in free agency and draft. If the offense can take major steps forward and defense maintains its momentum from last half of season, maybe Browns can be in contention again.
- The biggest factor will be Baker Mayfield. I am still not sure what team will do in long run. They may have put out report about team moving forward for PR purposes and keep things quiet, but I think if they can find a better option, they will do so. Again, was there anything Keenum did today that was beyond horrific that Baker would never do? It’s a small sample size, yes, but the fact the Browns scored 3 TDs and nearly had another two on top of that shows the system can work.
- I’ll be curious to see how Bengals fare in postseason. I think they may get rocked. Think they caught a lucky few games and got on fire at right time. Seeing their backups and huge drop off (with injuries) shows this team really needs starters to shine and stay healthy. With the AFC North being so crowded, it was kind of underwhelming in the end. No offense to Bengals they earned it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they lost big time and that's their window. Lot of hype and stuff but another season they got swept by the Browns and Burrow has yet to beat Baker and Browns either.
- Will have another blog later in week on what to look for on this team and coaching staff. For now its nice to enjoy a win to end the season even though the season is really done. I don’t think the Browns have ended the season with a win in back to back seasons in quite a while. GO BROWNS!!