The View Beyond Pluto: The Bright Sides of the Browns 1-2 Start

Sep 25, 2019

The Browns head into their Sunday game against the Balitmore Ravens with a 1-2 record. They lost to the L.A. Rams 20-13 on Sunday. Head coach Freddie Kitchens took the blame for the loss, citing his poor play calling towards the end of the game. WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto said there were some positives to take from yet another disappointing offensive performance.

Fierce defense
"Because quarterback Baker Mayfield struggled so much, and Freddie Kitchens had such strange play calling, you almost felt like they lost 35-3," Pluto said. "But they didn't."

Pluto said he gives the credit to defensive coordinator Steve Wilks. "His defense was just ripped apart in the opener against Tennessee. But they allowed only three points to the Jets and only 20 to the Rams, which are basically the second-best team in the NFL. They put up 30 points like it's no problem."

And, Pluto said the defense was stellar despite missing five starters with injuries. "They made the Rams work for everything they got. They forced them into three turnovers. If they play that type of defense every week, they’ll have a winning record. Even if the offense continues to sputter."

Special teams on track
Pluto said the other silver lining is the special teams. "They used to mess up punts and extra points and field goals. With new special teams coach, Mike Priefer, they fixed all that."

'Sometimes the best thing to do is the easiest thing to do'

What's plaguing Mayfield?
Now, on to the bad. The offense continued to struggle, especially quarterback Baker Mayfield. So, what's plaguing the star? 

“There are several theories," Pluto said.

"One is that opponents spent the offseason looking at tapes of Mayfield and they figured out some stuff. I don’t buy that because Mayfield played in 14 games last year and by about the eighth game he played, they had a lot of tape on him. And it didn’t seem to impact him last year."

Pluto says the more likely scenario is the dynamic between Freddie Kitchens and offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Kitchens is calling all the plays, which likely is contrasting Monkens' approach. 

"Baker Mayfield, to me, looks confused at times. There’s some trouble with the offensive line blocking, but sometimes the best thing to do is the easiest thing to do. The last eight games of last year they had a top-10 offense running the ball with Nick Chubb, and Mayfield threw a lot of short passes and got rid of the ball quickly, probably because he was picking from probably five things instead of 12. It’s a matter of fixing the offense, which has talent."