A little over a month ago while listening to a local radio station, one of the show’s personalities proposed the question to listeners if the Browns have an identity crisis. At the time, I could not say I replied to myself in the affirmative. When the topic recently came up again in a discussion amongst CLE Sports Talk writers, my thoughts changed significantly on the matter. Without a doubt, the answer is now a definitive ‘yes’.
While the defense has its own issues, it is the offense that was supposed to be leaps and bounds better than what has been displayed. Last season, the Cleveland masses praised Freddie Kitchens for his play-calling as he transitioned from running backs coach to interim offensive coordinator. When he was named head coach in the offseason, many fans rallied around the promotion while others said that was too much, too soon for Kitchens to leap frog into the lead role. Here we are, a year after his stint as offensive coordinator, and that play-calling magic is nowhere to be found.
The Browns have a capable quarterback in Baker Mayfield and two elite wide receivers in Jarvis Landry and OBJ. Let us also not forget that this team possesses two of the best running backs in the league in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. It has been said time and again that if you have a running game, it opens up the passing game. The point being, this offense is a running offense, hands down.
Despite that fact, Kitchens is determined to make passing the primary threat on offense. It’s kind of like buying an Aston Martin with the sole intention to make it a grocery-getter. You do not use that vehicle for something it is not primarily designed for, nor do you drive it in a manner it is not meant for. Use it against its will and it will not perform properly. This football team is operating on that same parallel.
Baker is throwing the ball 30 to 40 times a game.
Run. The. Ball.
Nick Chubb had a mere 58 yards rushing against the Steelers this past weekend and it did not have to do with the Steelers having an amazing defense. As one of my fellow writers on this site pointed out, Kitchens will find something that works and abandon it the next game.
What Hunt did for the Chiefs in his time there was impressive if nothing else. Here, we are wasting his talent on occasional short pass plays instead of making opposing defenses guess who is getting the next handoff. But hey, keep throwing the ball 32 times a game. I am very well aware this team’s offensive line needs help, but they are proficient enough to get something going for Chubb and Hunt.
With the offensive lineup we have, this team should be hanging no less than 20 points a game on the opposition. Until we get an offensive mind in here that understands the current Browns offensive squad’s heart lies in the running game, we are doomed to underachievement on the football field.