Fans of the Cleveland Browns are hoping their team can get a win before the season is over. After a 30-16 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, the Cleveland Browns are 0-11 with just five games left to secure a victory and avoid going winless. At this point, I’m not sure they can do it.
The Browns have instances where they show their true potential and offer glimpses of future success. Against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, DeShone Kizer had one of the better games of his young career. He finished the game completing 18 of 31 passes and throwing for 268 yards. While he didn’t throw any touchdown passes, he didn’t throw any interceptions either, which has been a struggle for him all year.
I believe Isaiah Crowell has gotten better each year he has been with the team and Duke Johnson Jr. continually shows he deserves to get the ball more—whether that be rushing or receiving. He is elusive, talented and a serious threat in open space.
The defense continues to play fairly well. The Browns out-gained the Bengals 405 to 361 and held them to only four (out of ten) third down conversions. They allowed three touchdowns, but they also forced the Bengals to kick three field goals. According to nfl.com, Cleveland is currently ninth in the NFL for fewest yards allowed per game (318), sixth for fewest rushing yards per game (91.7) 14th for fewest passing yards per game (220.8) and fifth in combined tackles (741). All of this shows that the Browns have the capability to win games. And yet, they don’t.
To the dismay of Browns’ fans, these glimmers of hope quickly fade away like morning fog. Accompanying these rays of light, is the torrential downpour of penalties, turnovers, poor redzone and down conversions and poor clock management. The Browns are currently ninth in the NFL for most penalties (77 for 683 yards). They are dead last in turnover differential with -17, which includes losing 8 of 18 fumbles and being first in most interceptions thrown with 20.
They have the worst third down percentage at 30% (45 of 150 third downs), last in points per redzone appearance (3.69), and 27th in touchdowns per redzone (.462), according to footballoutsiders.com.
Finally, against the Detroit Lions, the Browns poorly managed the clock and missed out on scoring points before the half. And against the Bengals Sunday, they wasted too much time and had to settle for a short field goal instead of getting a touchdown before the half. Injuries, poor play calls and inconsistency have plagued the Browns all season long.
At this point in the year, I really am at a loss as to what the Browns need to do to win a game. While they give fans a taste of what they could be, the Dawg Pound swiftly becomes grounded after having their hopes crushed by tragic circumstances.
The Browns don’t look horrible. Some moments they look like a competitive team. They’ve managed to string together great drives throughout the year. But with a high turnover rating in the red zone and an inconsistent kicker, many of these drives have failed to put points on the board.
The Browns lost to the Steelers, Colts, Jets and Titans by just 3 points and they have lost only three games by more than 14 points. As young as their defense is, they have played well and have done a decent job of limiting opponents, but the offense has come up short when it is time to put points on the board and win games.
At this point of the season, I’m truly have no clue what the team needs to do in order to win games. The pieces are there, throughout most games and they provide insight to what the team could be like if they only played that way every drive. But they don’t. I’m not sure if or when they will.
Maybe they’ll be able to put all the puzzle pieces together and get a win or two in 2017, but I’m not sure. The Cleveland fan base is irritated and Head Coach Hue Jackson is on the hottest seat in the NFL right now. Only time will tell whether or not the team will find success this year, but time is running short for them. Five games are all that’s left to win again.
Five games. The clock is ticking.