The Browns will no longer have excuses if Justin Fields handles the defense.
The Bears have formally announced that rookie quarterback Justin Fields will start against the Browns come Sunday. The start will be the first of Fields’ career and will have the added benefit of it being in front of his home crowd. The Ohio State product had a good preseason to the point that many were expecting him to beat out Andy Dalton, the injured incumbent, but Bears’ head coach Matt Nagy felt that Dalton was still the best option to be the starting quarterback.
Enter rookie Fields getting his first start.
While it’s not unheard of for rookies to do well in their rookie years, we’ve seen the Browns’ very own Baker Mayfield do just that and Justin Herbert of the Chargers as well, it is however very rare. In fact, the three rookies taken over Fields in the 2021 NFL Draft, Trevor Lawerence, Zach Wilson, and Trey Lance have either played poorly or not at all. Further prove that guys like Mayfield and Herbert are the exception, not the rule.
Sure, Fields could dominate the 2021 season like he’s Ben Roethlisberger did in 2004 but odds are he’s going to struggle. So if Fields rolls the Browns defense, it’s going to be time for massive sweeping changes.
Browns’ defense has struggled against three levels of quarterback in 2021
So far the Browns got roasted by Patrick Mahomes, which is understandable. He’s the best quarterback in the league and it’s not a debate. Then Tyrod Taylor manhandled them by exploiting soft coverage and no pressure. Not great, but Taylor’s no slub. Then Taylor’s backup, Davis Mills, a rookie, was able to nearly mount a comeback on the Browns.
Now we have a problem.
If Fields is able to do to the Browns what the other three quarterbacks have done, then there’s no denying that something needs to change. While you can say “well the team’s new”, they’re really not. Save for a couple of players this is a heavily veteran defense. Not only are most of the team not rookies, but most of them are skilled and establish veterans. The “adjustment” period is different when you’re talking about veterans like Jadeveon Clowney and John Johnson.
When you have veterans, there are different expectations. Moreover, the biggest culprits so far have been Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward, long-tenured members of the squad and scheme. They’ve absolutely disappeared. You can argue they’re playing soft coverage, or that Garrett is getting double-teamed, but that isn’t going to change. Garrett will always be double-teamed, he has to make plays despite that. He’s paid too much to not change the course of the game.
Same goes for Ward. Find a way to make things work, because the team is getting ripped apart.
The Browns are 10th most in the league in passing yards against, 10th most in the league in passing touchdowns against, 10th most in the league in passing first-downs, 8th most in the league in yards given up after the catch,12th fewest in the league in sacks, and 12th fewest in the league in pressures.
So not only are the quarterbacks in need of dry cleaning on Monday’s but the defense is giving guys wide births to run roughshod all over you..
The Bears are not a good offensive team under Matt Nagy, the man doesn’t even know what a scheme is, so the Browns can not afford to let a rookie quarterback and a bad head coach roast them on defense. If they do, then there’s no reason to believe that things will get better. Something will have to change after this game.
Now, if they dominate and destroy the Bears’ offense, then we’ll be able to relax on this. If they don’t…let’s just hope that’s not the case.