The hype in Cleveland was at an astronomical level on Sunday morning, however, by Sunday night, that hype and the Cleveland Browns’ bandwagon had crashed into Lake Erie.
Proclaimed as the favorites to win the AFC North prior to the NFL season’s kick off by leading sportsbooks, the Cleveland Browns sputtered, stuttered, and stopped against the Tennessee Titans at home, 43-13.
The game opened brightly for Cleveland and could have gone so differently. Quarterback Baker Mayfield led the offense down the field and punched in a touchdown thanks to a Dontrell Hilliard four-yard touchdown run. It was his only carry of the game.
The ensuing missed extra-point was the sign that the good times were over. The Browns conspired to give up 43 points to the Titans thereafter with Mayfield throwing three interceptions. The quarterback was sacked five times as the Browns’ offensive line leaked like a sieve.
Not only was Mayfield poor and inaccurate at passing the ball to his own teammates, the Browns had zero discipline. Greg Robinson was ejected from the game for kicking Tennessee’s Kenny Vaccaro in the facemask. In all, the Browns were penalized for 182 yards courtesy of 18 infractions.
The defense was just as bad as the offense. Of course, Cleveland’s D gave up 43 points, but Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was able to toss three touchdowns and racked up 248 yards passing on 24 pass attempts. The Browns also gave up 123 yards on the ground. A total of 371 yards were conceded by the Browns’ defense.
Is there a way back for the Browns after Sunday’s crash landing back to Earth? The Titans, who just missed the playoffs last season, were written off in NFL week 1 against the Browns. They obviously were aware of the hype surrounding the Browns and made it a point to puncture it.
Cleveland’s schedule doesn’t get any easier. The Browns will go to New York to play the Jets before hosting the Los Angeles Rams. They will then travel to Baltimore and San Francisco in back to back weeks. Cleveland will welcome the Seattle Seahawks to FirstEnergy Stadium for week 6 before enjoying a week 7 bye.
By the time Seahawks leave Cleveland on the evening of October 13th, the Browns’ hopes of making the playoffs could be done and dusted. Oh, if you didn’t think it got any worse after that, Cleveland play the New England Patriots in Foxborough in week 8.
The journalists and bloggers claiming the Browns can improve and overcome their week 1 loss are a bit hopeful. Cleveland was awful on Sunday and incredibly sloppy on both sides of the ball. Head coach Freddie Kitchens and his staff have just seven days to get things right before facing the New York Jets.
Luckily for Cleveland, the Jets lost their opener to the Buffalo Bills away, 17-16. In However, that doesn’t mean the Browns can win in New York next weekend.
In 2018, 24 of the NFL’s teams (75% of teams) had a 50% or better home record. Despite the Jets also losing to start the season, there is no guarantee the Browns can rebound in NFL week 2 at MetLife Stadium.