Cleveland Browns: The good, bad and ugly – Week 1

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 09: Joe Schobert #53 of the Cleveland Browns returns an interception during overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers the at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 9, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. The game ended in a 21-21 tie. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 09: Joe Schobert #53 of the Cleveland Browns returns an interception during overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers the at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 9, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. The game ended in a 21-21 tie. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The first week of the NFL regular season has come and gone, although many Cleveland Browns fans still aren’t sure if that is a good or bad thing.

The Cleveland Browns‘ Week 1 matchup versus the Pittsburgh Steelers offered many things. However, nearly two days have passed, and I still find myself struggling to make sense of any of it.

Perhaps the only conclusion I can draw is that the hype train hasn’t gotten derailed, or maybe it picked up speed, or it stopped altogether. I give up on simple analysis!

Let me summarize my scattered remnants of thoughts in three simple categories that might make Clint Eastwood proud — something I hope not to utilize on a weekly basis — the good, the bad and, of course, the ugly.

The Good

  • The Cleveland Browns have survived Week 1 undefeated — winless yes, but undefeated nonetheless.
  • Myles Garrett is something of a cross between a T-Rex, a velociraptor and a lab experiment gone beautifully haywire.
  • Denzel Ward was selected fourth overall — Bradley who?
  • Josh Gordon is, well, Josh Gordon.
  • The Browns defense offered up more turnovers than Arby’s.
  • Baker Mayfield is a Cleveland Brown.

While there are certainly areas to improve upon, the nucleus of talent in Cleveland is finally a strength for the Browns. The defense has shown resilience and huge playmaking capabilities and, if you take nothing else from the Week 1 tie, the young squad offered several cornerstones to build upon.

Josh Gordon is still the phenom we know him to be and Myles Garrett is simply unstoppable. Meanwhile, Denzel Ward’s biggest mishap was allowing Antonio Brown to be Antonio Brown on a touchdown reception where Ward covered Brown tighter than the receiver’s own jersey.

Then there are the flashes of talent throughout the roster of up and coming players. Of those, I must give a special acknowledgement to Genard Avery and Larry Ogunjobi, who continue to impress.

The Bad

  • The Cleveland Browns have gone yet another week in the NFL regular season winless.
  • David Njoku: catch the ball, or get off the field! I don’t care how physically gifted you are if you can’t squeeze the ball.
  • Tyrod Taylor – Throw the ball! Yes, the ability to run can offer another element to the game, but quarterbacks that don’t throw the ball don’t make very good quarterbacks.
  • I know they were calling for rain, but I didn’t think the weather man meant it would be in the form of yellow laundry. The Browns have plenty of discipline, only it came from the officials.

I could go off on a little rant about how dismal the “unimportant” stats are for Tyrod Taylor, but I will refrain. I will offer, however, that if his stats were a bit easier on the eyes, I would be more prone to acknowledge them. It may indeed be about wins and losses, but that is quite a shoddy argument following a tie.

The Ugly

  • Is it done raining yet? I’d venture to guess even the walleye in Lake Erie have had enough.
  • Speaking of rain, that yellow-flag variety should be limited to actual penalties. Tackle the way you tackle there, Myles Garrett. They may penalize you for it, but they will apologize after the fact.
  • Was it just me, or are blatant leading-with-the-helmet hits acceptable if you’re wearing Black and Gold? Perhaps David Njoku had good reason to drop a few passes after the officials allowed the game to start off with an illegal hit on a defenseless receiver.
  • James Conner — do you really have to be a good running back? At least I hope he is good, cause the the Browns run defense sure made him look it.
  • When Arby’s sells those aforementioned turnovers, they benefit from them.

Perhaps I should just toss the whole game into the ugly category. If not for the defensive highlights, I would consider it. Josh Gordon certainly impressed with the one catchable pass thrown to him and Carlos Hyde looked solid on the one drive they utilized him.

To be fair it, may have been two passes or two drives, but the ugly truth is that whether it was one or two or even three, the rest of the offensive performance was about as entertaining as watching the raindrops continue to fall.

Final Thoughts

While the future remains bright in Cleveland and the hype remains, the lackluster offensive display is a serious concern. Some have hinted around about it, but I will just come out and say it. Baker Mayfield should have taken over after the half and there should be no wondering if Taylor will throw the ball, or run around instead, next week.

Next. 2018 NFL picks, score predictions for Week 2. dark

The offense was simply stagnant with Taylor leading the charge and while a continued look is justifiable, I foresee much of the same next week. The Browns offense desperately needed a shot of adrenaline and a quarterback change would have provided just that. That is a move that cannot be undone, but it is a move that must be made if the struggles continue.

Rookie quarterbacks will certainly struggle, and indeed, it hasn’t worked in the past, but anyone who witnessed the second-year version of DeShone Kizer during Sunday night’s Packers game can testify, the rookie aspect wasn’t the problem last year.