Baltimore Ravens opponent review: Cleveland Browns


The Baltimore Ravens finally got their first win of the season last Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now, coming off a long break the Ravens are back at home and are facing the other 1-3 team in the AFC North, the Cleveland Browns.

Despite last week’s win, the Ravens have a long way to go to get back into the playoff race.  Thankfully, though, they’re entering a very friendly run of games. But what stands in the Ravens way of going 2-3 this weekend?

The Cleveland Browns, like the Ravens, have endured a dire start to the season and find themselves at 1-3 and in desperate need for a win to get back on track. Unfortunately for the Browns, there is a lot less optimism surrounding this team than the Ravens.

The Ravens boast one of the worst receiving corps, especially now that Steve Smith Sr. is out for at least 1 week with a back injury. However, the Browns are in a very similar position. But what makes theirs worse is their QB, Josh McCown.

McCown has shown in the past that he can win games and last week, admittedly, he didn’t look bad, but he is no more than a backup QB. With a lack of play makers on offense, coupled with the lack of an above average QB, the Browns offense is really struggling.

Unfortunately, the Browns running game isn’t much better. Since Mike Pettine took over, they have tried to make this team a run first offense by drafting 3 running backs, all of whom could make an argument to start in the last 2 years in Isiah Crowell, Terrance West and Duke Johnson.

Last year, Crowell and West each showed promise, running for 1280 yards and 12 touchdowns between them at 4 yards per carry, as the team averaged 108 yards per game. This year, West is no longer with the team after being traded to the Titans, and Crowell and Johnson haven’t been able to match the production, with the team running for just 89.8 yards per game (26th in the NFL).

Oct 4, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) throws a pass before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

At this point, on offense at least, I think the Browns best chance to win games this year comes in the form of Johnny Manziel’s potential. I understand that Mike Pettine is fighting for his job so doesn’t want to risk Manziel being worse than McCown, but the Browns need to find out if Manziel can be their future, and the only way to do that is by paying him.

In his one start this season and at times against the Jets, he looked more like the Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M rather than Johnny Manziel from last year, which is a damn sight more than what Josh McCown can be.

To make matters worse, Mike Pettine’s calling card, his defense, is no better than the offense. They are, in fact, worse. They rank 21st in the NFL in points per game (25.5) and 32nd in the NFL in yards per game (406.2) – 141.5 of which are on the ground.

Danny Shelton was drafted 12th overall by the Browns to shore up their defensive line, particularly against the run. Though Shelton hasn’t been bad – his coaches have actually lauded his play – the team around him obviously hasn’t performed well enough. They’ve been overpowered up front and allowed several big plays on the ground.

Sep 27, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden (23) during the third quarter against the Oakland Raiders at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Their secondary, supposedly a strength for this team, hasn’t been much better. They boast Joe Haden, Tramon Williams, Tashaun Gipson and Donte Whitner, but they are still allowing the 22nd most pass yards per game with 264.8. That said, Joe Haden missed the Browns last game with a broken finger and is listed as questionable for this weekends game.

Furthermore, Tashaun Gipson is out for this weekends game with a sprained ankle that he suffered last week against the Chargers. This is a potentially huge loss for the Browns as last year both of those players went to the Pro Bowl.

The Browns have a lot of work to do to turn this season around. Hopefully they don’t figure out what they need to do this weekend.

Next: Ravens vs. Browns, Week 5: Keys to Victory

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