The Browns have less than a week to regroup after their embarrassing season-opening loss to the Tennessee Titans. The team that's been hyped in the off-season was blown out by a score of 43-13. WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto lists five things the Browns must fix heading into their Monday Night Football showdown on the road against the New York Jets.
Pluto said the last time the Browns played the Jets, it marked a turnaround for the dismal team. It was the third game of the season and it had been 635 days since the last time Cleveland won a game. Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield led the team to the win after replacing QB Tyrod Taylor, who got injured.
"You know what Baker Mayfield needs? Something like that again," Pluto said. Here are his thoughts on how that can happen.
1. Less Beckham
First, Pluto says Mayfield needs to throw fewer passes to new star wide receiver, Odell Beckham, Jr. "He threw 38 passes and 11 of them were to Beckham. Don't get fixated on a receiver. One of the things that made Mayfield effective was that he spread the ball around. If you start getting caught throwing to just one guy, it's going to be pretty easy to defend."
This season is a dramatic shift for Mayfield, who now has two strong personalities on the field. "The only strong personality he had in the huddle last year was Jarvis Landry. Beckham makes Landry look like your quiet neighbor next door."
Pluto said playing the Jets will be like a home game for Beckham, who played at MetLife Stadium when he was with the Giants. "Both the Giants and Jets share the same field. And you know Odell is going to have his people there, and he's going to want the ball."
2. Go back to the old game plan
"Freddie Kitchens needs to go back to those game plans when he took over at midseason last year of running the ball with Nick Chubb. Baker should not stand deep in the pocket and just heave it down the field all the time. Get quick passes and quick cuts and look for openings. They used a game plan in game one that reminded me of what they were doing with Hue Jackson and Todd Haley."
3. Keep cool
Pluto said Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will want to capitalize on the 18 penalties the Browns had in game one. Williams was the Browns interim coach when Hue Jackson was fired last season. "He's probably thinking he's going to run all of these blitzes on Baker," Pluto said. "Williams will want to get them fighting. So watch the penalties."
4. Respond to criticism
Pluto said it will be really interesting to see how coach Freddie Kitchens handles the fallout from the season opener. "This is the first time he has received any public criticism going back to when he played quarterback with Alabama in the middle '90s. The rest of his career he never was coordinator or coach anywhere until last season. How does he handle this and get them back to playing football with some poise and some composure?"
5. Fix Olivier Vernon
Olivier Vernon is a defensive end that the Browns acquired with the blockbuster trade with the Giants in March. He's been touted as one of the team's leaders. "He's supposed to be a pass rusher, and he's a Pro Bowler. He played 56 snaps (on Sunday) and had zero tackles. I think this guy is a good player. I don't know what went on there, but fix it."