It was a must-win game for the Cleveland Browns against the Cincinnati Bengals at First Energy Stadium. Usually, games in Week 2 of a NFL season don’t carry that type of magnitude, but this Thursday Night Football battle did have that feeling. While the announcers were busy mesmerizing over Bengals rookie QB Joe Burrow, there actually was a game to be had. A contest the Browns ended up winning, 35-30.
Look, I want to celebrate. I really do.
However, let’s just remember who the Browns played. The Bengals are one of the worst teams in the NFL and it felt as if the Dawgs kept inviting the KittyCats to stay in the game. As if the team literally wanted to lose and was shocked even uncomfortable to be ahead on the scoreboard.
Frankly, the defense has a tremendous amount of work to do in order to compete with some of the better teams in the league. Baker Mayfield and the offense were a lot better this week compared to the disaster in Baltimore last Sunday. The dynamic duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, the best running back duo in the league (no question), helped support the offense with 215 combined rushing yards as a team. This paired with 219 passing yards led to a total of 434 yards compared to the Bengals’ total 353 yards.
Now, that is a category a team wants to lead in.
Well, the Browns have 10 days to work on all of the bad and build on the good for the game against the Washington Football Team at First Energy Stadium come Week 3.
Seriously, had the Bengals come back and won, the 6,000 fans that were in the stadium (plus many other Clevelanders) would have caused quite a stir in the downtown parts. So much so that it would have broken into the evening broadcasts of Fox News and CNN. Luckily, the team managed to hang on and win by a thin margin.
It does feel like some fans are celebrating as if the Browns won the Super Bowl, though.
This win is a nice first step in order to build something that can compete with the best teams in the league. A lot of work to be done in order for the Browns to be a team that is feared by opponents across the league.
Let’s see what improvements are made over the extended break and how those are implemented into the Washington game and beyond. The talent is certainly there and the execution is possible. Consistency is key and that is what this team certainly must work on.
What to build upon?
The defense allowed the Bengals to go 5/5 on their 4th down tries. Those are some of the biggest plays of the game. In the future, making those stops will be crucial for more victories.
Offensively, the Browns did a nice job of establishing the run. WR Odell Beckham Jr. does not have to have a set amount of targets just because he’s Odell. Keep that mindset moving forward.
Cody Parkey hit on all five extra points – NICE! Did not have a field goal try, so that remains to be seen.
Finally, Coach Stefanski needs to make the smart calls and not the ambitious ones, such as the fourth-quarter passing play INT that led to Cincinnati staying in the game. RUN. THE. BALL. That will come with experience, though. Also, eliminate the stupid penalties, which can be said for any football team in history.
The old saying is that…a win is a win. Now, let’s build upon it! Go Browns! #DawgCheck