Can someone please explain to me what just happened? This has to be the worst Browns loss I've seen in years. And I have seen some DOOZIES. Awful execution, four turnovers, a host of penalties that killed at least two or three legitimate chances to put Pittsburgh away, and worst of all, Nick Chubb is gone for the year. And he may be done for his career.
Folks, that injury was nasty. I saw it. I wish I hadn't. The human leg was not meant to bend that way. Nick Chubb didn't just blow his knee. He might've broken his leg. And with the way he runs, he may never be the same way again if he ever returns.
He's a big man at 5'11 and 227 pounds. But he puts his body through a beating every week whether the Browns win or lose. There's a reason workhorse running backs only play for so long in the NFL. They just put their bodies through all kinds of abuse every Sunday.
Before we get into what went wrong, I want to send my heartfelt prayers and well wishes to Nick Chubb, and I hope he makes a speedy and full recovery. He embodies Cleveland. He's humble, works extremely hard, and represents the city with pride. He's the best running back I've ever seen play live, and we are so blessed to have him as a Brown. I just hope he'll be okay, and can make it back sometime next year if he decides to play again.
As for the rest of the game? It looked like the Browns offense completely fell apart once Chubb went out.
No offensive rhythm
The offensive unit was entirely out of whack all night. And that started from the opening kickoff. As soon as Pittsburgh returned the first pass of the night all the way for a pick six, I knew we'd struggle all night long.
All teams have certain rhythms when they play well. Ours? It's using the run to set up the pass, imposing physicality on a defense, and opening up the playbook further down the field. But apparently Coach Stefanski didn't get the memo, as his play call to pass on first down killed at least two drives.
A week after coaching a fairly smart game in an ugly win over Cincinnati, he goes right back to being cute with play calling. I get trying to be unpredictable. But there's a massive difference between being unpredictable and keeping a defense off balance, and just being flat out stupid. Tonight's play calling was the latter.
Lack of execution and bad situational football
This might've been the most frustrating part of the game. The Browns had at least two, if not three legitimate chances to put the Steelers away. But whether it was from a sack, stupid penalties, or turnovers, Cleveland never took advantage of the chance to drive the final nail into the Steelers' coffin. Instead, the Browns laid down in the coffin, and personally handed Pittsburgh both the hammer and the nail while the Steelers slammed and nailed the lid shut. And that was all she wrote.
The Browns had 408 total yards to 255 for the Steelers. Cleveland's defense actually showed up really well, holding Pittsburgh to a miserable 4-14 on third down. And the Browns still ran for almost 200 yards on the ground. But the killers? Four turnovers, including two returned for touchdowns. Eliminate those 14 points, and Cleveland wins going away.
Who is Deshaun Watson?
It's an honest question at this point. Who is he, really? He's looked like an athletic game manager at quarterback. Nothing more. Remember when people were ripping on Baker Mayfield for not being athletic enough? I certainly do. But he's 2-0 right now with the Buccaneers and lighting it up. While Watson completed just 55 percent of his passes (22-40) for 235 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
I certainly hope Watson figures it out. Now he absolutely HAS to. He's got no choice. He has no security blanket now that Nick Chubb is gone. Jimmy Haslam wanted a more vertical, pass-heavy offense? Congratulations, Mr. Haslam. You got your wish. Hope you're satisfied.
Where do they go from here?
This wasn't just a loss to the Steelers. That's the least of our worries. This loss has the potential to expose absolutely everything wrong with the Browns. They now count on a young running back in Jerome Ford to fill the shoes of the best running back in the NFL. I love Ford's effort, but he won't be able to do it.
We will also now see whether Watson really is worth the $230 Million Jimmy Haslam paid him. So far? He's been a waste of money. If that offends some Watson fans out there, sorry but it's the truth. He's looked mediocre to above average at best. And now he's forced to be great. If he doesn't quickly revert close to his 2020 form, he's screwed and so is this team.
And we will truly see how well this defense is conditioned. Something tells me they'll need to up their intensity even further to help us win, especially if this offense sputters like it did tonight. The Browns defense may need to force a bunch of takeaways and start actually scoring points. If not? Who knows how the rest of the season could play out.
But Cleveland won't have long to lick their wounds and try to regroup. As I write this article, it's very early on Tuesday morning. Tennessee comes to town for a Sunday game set to kick off at 1 PM.
I have never endured such a soul-sucking loss this early in the season. And if it goes downhill after this? I don't know how much more of this I can take. A Browns fan's psyche is incredibly fragile. I'm a tough man, but I'm just tired of watching demoralizing losses like this more than enjoying truly sweet wins. I'm exhausted. And I often look skyward wondering what on earth we did to deserve all this garbage luck.
God certainly isn't a Browns fan. He tossed us a bone in 2020 and thought that was good enough. Now here we are again. Hang in there Dawg Pound. If these guys can't rebound from a loss like this, it could be another long year.
Deshaun Watson: 22-40, 235 yards, TD, INT
Jerome Ford: 16 carries, 106 yards
Amari Cooper: 7 receptions, 90 yards
Picture Credit: screenbinge.com