Tonight, I will be breaking down key components for the Browns upcoming game against the Los Angeles Chargers, both teams are coming into this matchup with a victory in their last contest. Cleveland fans received tough news yesterday as it was reported that quarterback Baker Mayfield has been playing with a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder. Mayfield suffered the injury while making a tackle against the Houston Texans, with that being said Baker is a professional athlete and won’t make excuses for his recent performance against the Minnesota Vikings: as he would expect to play better regardless of the brutal injury he has endured. Thus far in the season, Baker Mayfield has the 26th best quarterback rating at 39.8 percent. The Browns defense will have their hands full as Los Angeles has a boatload of weapons at their disposal starting with quarterback Justin Herbert, followed by star running back Austin Ekeler, wide receivers Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and tight end Jared Cook who has emerged as one of Herbert’s top targets. In the early stages of the season, Herbert’s stats are top-notch as he has thrown for over 1,000 yards, 9 touchdowns to 3 interceptions, and has a quarterback rating of 100.1. Defenses have had little success against Herbert, as in two games he has thrown over 300 yards while the other two games have surpassed over 220 yards. Herbert is one of the young rising quarterbacks headed for stardom as he right now is the best quarterback in his draft class. Cleveland’s defense must play man to man and utilize blitz packages to take away the run game and his offensive weapons. The only problem is that Herbert can use his mobility to extend plays and give his players extra time to get open.
The Browns are going to have to rely heavily upon their running back corps, which is what they have done the majority of the time. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt have done their part in moving the ball down the field, as they have a good combination of speed and power to shed off tackles and prolong the play. Baker Mayfield will definitely be on a “pitch count“, and I will be shocked if he throws frequently down the field. I would expect, due to the magnitude of the injury that slant passes and other quick short passes will be in the game plan as to not hinder their chances of winning this game. Browns tight end Austin Hooper needs to step it up and play better in order to take the pressure off Odell Beckham Jr, Anthony Schwartz, and Rashard Higgins. Unfortunately, Jarvis Landry is still out with an MCL sprain and will not be available until next weekend’s matchup as the best-case scenario. Los Angeles will look to expose Mayfield, as they should be looking to blitz multiple times as center JC Tretter landed on the injury report and is listed as questionable due to a knee and back injury. Another integral part of the offensive line is starting tackle Jedrick Willis Jr who has an ankle injury and is also listed as questionable. It would behoove the Chargers to block the box and make the Browns one dimensional if they want to be successful. Baker Mayfield has adapted and has overcome obstacles throughout his football career. Mayfield can use his legs to make plays and create problems for the Chargers defense.
This team knows what it takes to be successful as they had a taste of playoff football last year, despite questionable status’s for key players in Jadeveon Clowney, Myles Garrett, Troy Hill, Takkarist McKinley, and Denzel Ward. It is the next-man-up motto and mentality, who needs to shine and prove to the coaching staff that they have what it takes to get the job done. It does sting, even more, knowing that starting cornerback Greg Newsome II is sidelined with a calf injury and will be unable to play this weekend. Regardless, it helps to have a good coaching staff to have the players focused and prepared for the tough task at hand, as the Browns have the right personnel. This could potentially be a playoff matchup down the road. It will most definitely be a fun game to tune into this weekend as these are two exciting teams.