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The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh: three losses in one night

Erik Drost, Wikimedia Commons
Nick Chubb has been a symbol of reliability and class for Cleveland.

On Mon., Sept. 18, the Cleveland Browns, fresh off their commanding 24-3 victory over the Bengals, brimmed with confidence as they squared off against their arch-rivals, the Steelers. Pittsburgh, following a tough loss to the San Francisco 49ers the previous Sunday, seemed like a vulnerable opponent. Yet, were ardent Browns fans really expecting a repeat of the week one triumph?

The most significant blow of the evening was not the loss itself, but the sidelining of perennial pro-bowl running back Nick Chubb. Chubb, the linchpin of the Browns’ offense, exited the game with a season-ending knee injury after amassing 60 yards on 10 carries. The loss of arguably the NFL’s best running back is a monumental setback, necessitating head coach Kevin Stefanski to revamp his run-heavy offensive strategy.

However, amidst the gloom, a ray of hope emerged in the form of second-year running back Jerome Ford. Ford stepped up for the Browns, rushing for an impressive 106 yards on 16 carries and contributing another 25 yards through three receptions.

Turning our attention to Browns’ quarterback DeShaun Watson, his performance left much to be desired. Excuses aside, it was not the offensive line or any other factors that hindered him. Browns fans have previously extended such excuses to Baker Mayfield, but Watson’s $250 million guaranteed contract leaves no room for excuses.

Watson completed a meager 55% of his passes, coughed up the ball twice, felt the wrath of six sacks, grabbed two penalties, and committed numerous errors rendering Watson’s play akin to that of a rookie quarterback. While the opening pick-six cannot be solely attributed to Watson, in my view, it was largely due to tight end Harrison Bryant’s mistake. Nevertheless, this game marked strike one for Watson.

Amid Watson’s subpar performance, wide receiver Amari Cooper managed to shine, securing seven receptions for 90 yards. No other Browns receiver surpassed four receptions or 50 receiving yards.

On the defensive front, Jim Schwartz’s unit offers a glimmer of hope for the season ahead. They thwarted the Steelers’ offense, preventing them from entering the red zone and generating two turnovers inside the 20-yard line. They contained the Steelers’ sophomore quarterback, Kenny Pickett, sacking him twice and restricting him to a dismal 50% completion rate and 222 passing yards.

Browns’ safety Grant Delpit even intercepted a pass from Pickett. Cleveland’s addition of defensive linemen Dalvin Tomlinson and edge rusher Za’darious Smith seems to have solved the team’s issues with stopping the run in 2022. The defense effectively curtailed Najjee Harris who managed just 43 rushing yards. However, the defense can only do so much when the offense gives up points to the other team.

The Browns’ offense has essentially revolved around Nick Chubb for the past four seasons. Watson displayed no signs of potential and delivered one of the worst performances of his career. The combination of Chubb’s absence and Watson’s decline raises legitimate concerns in Cleveland.

In essence, the Browns really suffered three losses on Monday night: the devastating injury to Chubb, Watson’s terrible game, and the 26-22 defeat at the hands of the Steelers. While optimism is always tempting, the famous words of Browns fans past and present seem appropriate: “There’s always next year.”

Chubb has been consistent and reliable for Cleveland, marking a huge loss for the Browns organization.

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