Browns v. Packers observations
The Packers got 4 turnovers against the Browns and held on for a 24–22 victory on Christmas Day. The Browns once again failed to close another game and now fall under .500 with two more games to play.
- The late coach, Denny Green, had an infamous press conference while coach of the Arizona Cardinals, in which in mid rant, he screamed ‘they are who we thought they were’, referencing the opponent. That quote fits the Browns perfect this year, the Browns are who we thought they were. An average team that is deficient at key positions and is unable to get out of their own way again. This is now 5 games in which the Browns failed to close. In such a chaotic season and conference and division, the Browns, if they could finish games, would be a #1 seed in the AFC. Now they will be lucky to finish above .500 to end season. So goes the way this team operates. Nothing surprised me yesterday because this team can’t see the issues in front of them.
- The worst decision the Browns made was letting Baker Mayfield dictate whether he was going to play after week 2. They should have shut him down, for several weeks at least and let Case Keenum take the lead and the Browns would have been fine. While the sample sizes are small, both Keenum and Nick Mullens, just operated better despite numerous deficiencies around them in their spot starts. Its just painfully obvious, again with small samples. If Mullens had Hooper and Landry back, I think the Browns would have won by multiple scores against the Raiders. Baker has all his guys back and looks like a 3rd stringer. All the interceptions were BAD. Not like ‘oh the defender made a great play!’ or ‘oh just couldn’t make the right tight throw’. These were WTF throws. These were throws where you have to chuckle to not get angry and mystified on the decision making of a 4th year quarterback.
- It’s starting to become apparent, Baker ruined his chance to stay with the Browns by playing through an injury that completely impacted his play. Still not recognizing open receivers/backs/tight ends; not reading blitzes properly; and having to make everything perfect in order to have success. It’s not working and its a shame, but there are deficiencies and I don’t know how much is the injury, the actual talent, the ability to read defenses. Probably a combination of everything, but when your backups are playing with less talent and still look good, that is never a situation a starter wants to be in. Sorry, there are valid arguments that Keenum and Mullens can play better than Baker. A franchise quarterback should never be lumped in same sentences like that. There should be a clear drop off from starter to backup, regardless of position, but especially at quarterback.
- With all that said, I think the Browns need to play Keenum rest of season. I need to see if for sure there is an issue at quarterback or its the actual team/system that is the problem. Playing Baker the last two games, in the division, won’t say much either way. I just think we have seen everything we need to see from Baker and I would be shocked if Browns somehow snuck in the playoffs, think all their lives have been lost for that to happen. I want to see if Stefanski and Van Pelt are the reason for Baker’s regression from a year ago, or if its on Baker and his lack of ability at this position.
- With all THAT being written, I doubt this happens. The Browns will trot out Baker and just operate the same and on to the next one. The evaluation takes place in the off season and we will see what happens next. It just stinks this is how the season has gone. I’m not sure if this is who this team is, if Stefanski is able to turn a corner, if the liabilities are in-grained. It’s possible this was a ‘sophomore slump’ for Stefanski and co. But I hope they learn the lessons: that one player shouldn't dictate when and how they should play. Putting a backup in a game or more isn’t the end of the world. Always rely on what is working, like the running game. GO BROWNS!!