The Browns had a few standouts against the Ravens on Sunday.
Normally I do these the day of or the day after the Browns’ game, but this week I waited for a variety of reasons. One, because we’re at the end of our month and other projects took priority, and two, I wanted to really digest the game and not be that reactionary.
Frankly, it’s hard to not carry over the disappointment of losing when this team is just a half-inch each week from winning it feels like. The Browns were not at peak performance on Sunday and there’s a variety of reasons for that.
With that said, we’re going to look at who played well, or well enough, and at least look for some comfort in the team’s performance against the Ravens.
Five Browns’ who stepped up against the Ravens
Yes, Baker Mayfield. The Browns had just 287 yards of offense and 247 of that belonged to Mayfield. Without him, the team doesn’t even score a touchdown and keep the game close. That’s a sad thing to say, considering the expectations of this unit, but you have to look at the bigger picture. The offensive line is brutalized due to injuries (Jack Conklin) and poor play (Jedrick Wills), and the Ravens exploited that on Sunday. They not only stopped the unstoppable Nick Chubb but Mayfield was running for his life all day as well.
His passing game wasn’t as bad as his stats show either. He had at least five drops, which are not removed from his incompletions, even though he made the throw, and he had at least another four or five passes he deliberately threw away to avoid taking a sack. None of those are taken off of his stats. That’s 10 passes that shouldn’t be attributed to him but are. When you look at it that way, 18/27 is a solid outing against a great defense. You can say “he should’ve done more” or “great quarterbacks make players better” but that’s all talking-head nonsense. If he’s connecting with Donovan Peoples-Jones on an easy touchdown catch, and Peoples-Jones drops it, how is that on Mayfield?
It’s good to know the old man can still have a big game every now and then. The Ravens’ passing defense can be exploited, and Landry did just that, pulling down six receptions for 111 yards. Now if only guys like Peoples-Jones and David Njoku can duplicate that success by, you know, not dropping catchable balls.
The best part of Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah didn’t show up on the box score. More than once Owusu-Kormoah held the Ravens in check by feigning a blitz and keeping Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson in the pocket. The best way to beat the Ravens and Jackson is taking away his running lanes, something the Browns were marvelous at doing on Sunday. That’s in part due to the rookie.
Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney get credit too, they were all over the place on Sunday trying to take down Jackson. Only Garrett did, which is why he gets the nod over Clowney. Garrett even chased down Jackson after over-pursuing, and it was a thing of beauty. Sure, Jackson got four or five yards on the scramble, but Garrett chased him down. How awesome is that?
You can’t have a strong defensive performance and not credit the special teams, especially the punter. Gillan was getting some flack this year but he’s more than proven his worth since, especially on Sunday. He had six punts on Sunday, totaling 261 yards, for an average of 43.5 yards per punt and two inside the 20 yard-line. Gillan’s performance helped made it possible for the Browns’ defense to play the game they did, thanks to the field position he gave them.