Browns v. Steelers observations
I left and went to bed early for this one as there was nothing more to watch that was any combination of entertaining, intriguing, or interesting. This has been a tumultuous season to say the least and there are a lot of layers to the issues plaguing this team. Below are some observations from the game, but more so on the season. There is one game left but honestly I think we all get the picture.
- The defense actually tried last night and competed very well, once again. The offense on the other hand was just awful. There were many points where I was wondering if Stefanski would pull Baker and put in Keenum and it never happened (at least when I was watching). The constant issues on offense still plaguing this team in week 17 of a season is very concerning to put it lightly. At very least, the hot seat Joe Woods was on from last season to parts of this season has now been transferred to Stefanski and Van Pelt.
- As I wrote in the last blog after Packers game, there was zero incentive or reasoning for Baker to play in these last two games. Keenum should have played and the coaching staff could have evaluated whether the issue was at QB or the scheme itself. Here is my free advice — its the QB. I’ve never seen a player bottom out like Baker Mayfield has over the years. Even when he stunk in 2019, all fingers pointed to Freddie Kitchens and his offensive staff just being over their heads. When Baker vastly improved in 2020 with more competent coaching we felt good about 2021. Then Baker gets injured and all hell breaks loose. However, it appears its more than the injury.
- Baker just doesn’t see guys open. Is it a height issue? is he over thinking? Is he given just one-read and thats it? For this many games into a system I find it hard to believe he’s regressed this badly. The injury is only so much. And quite frankly if the injury was enough why was he ever playing? I wrote on this blog and social media, Baker should have sat after week 2. He was hurt that bad and its shown ever since. This game was so laughably bad due to Big Ben not looking great either and throwing 5 yard passes 40x. All Baker had to do yet again was look competent and he clearly could not do that.
- Competent quarterbacking would have the Browns in the playoffs this year. The team was talented enough to have that happen. We didn’t need superstar play, we didn’t even need franchise play, just competent play in various parts of the game. This is now 6 games where the Browns should have won with competent QB play. Again — I find it EXTREMELY hard to believe Case Keenum would have been any worse had he filled in for Baker long term. Hell even just last night alone. I am putting all evidence on a small one game sample size, but still, would Keenum have missed wide open guys and gone 10 incompletions in a row with some bad tipped passes?
- Stefanski is under a lot of pressure now in this offseason to right this ship and figure out what this team needs to get back into playoff contention. No contending team falls off after a year like this, especially when they added more talent via free agency and the draft. Andrew Berry and Paul DePodesta need to figure out how they will find a competent quarterback that could lead to a franchise quarterback. I’m not sure Baker is the answer anymore. Which stinks, but this team has too much talent to mess around. In the past, when we had shitty quarterback play, other position groups sucked too so it was a collective failure. This time, we know where the main problem is.
- Stefanski/Berry and co. need to figure out why this season crumbled very easily. Was it really Baker pushing through a bad injury? Was OBJ the problem for too long before he got moved? Were players divided in locker room over Baker/OBJ/or something else? Is there really a true leader in the locker room? What about Myles consistently calling out coaching staff and players every few weeks? Why did Alex Van Pelt finally admit Baker’s injury was an issue for the offense after 15 games? Why is Nick Chubb not used like Derrick Henry? Why was Case Keenum never considered at any point in season, especially after a thrilling must need win against Denver where he was surrounded by backups as well? Why was Covid still an issue within the organization? Why does the team not play well in big moment games and does that lead to more personnel changes? Do any of these questions matter and Browns just roll it back and things are different? Who knows, but there is a lot to answer for and the biggest one is the quarterback and what the head coach is going to do about it. GO BROWNS!!