NFL: Cleveland Browns vs Baltimore Ravens, Preview
Last week saw a painful reminder of just how far the Browns still have to go before they become a winning organization. It was a tough, hard-fought game that saw the Browns leading going into the final two minutes of the game, but inexperience once again played a factor and the Raiders were able to tie and eventually win the game.
But that was last week, and a new opponent is on the horizon for Cleveland. What needs to be done to up the win count and, more importantly, what needs to not be done?
Keep the running game going strong
Rookie running back Nick Chubb had a career game against a woeful Raiders defense. Three carries for 105 yards and two touchdowns, including two massive runs for six points, showed that Chubb has promise as the future of the Browns backfield. Expect them to get more touches this week alongside Carlos Hyde, who also had a solid game last week. A good running game complements a good passing game, so you can never go wrong when the running backs are going strong.
Stop dropping the ball
Here's a statistic that you should never want associated with your team: The Cleveland Browns lead the league in dropped passes with 10. Six of those drops came last Sunday. That should eventually get better, but that must definitely be improved on in the coming weeks. Dropped passes kill drives, and the last thing you want as a young team is to have a long drive derailed because of one dropped pass.
Keep the turnovers to a minimum
At face value, Baker Mayfield had a decent first game as starter for the Browns. He was just a couple of yards shy of throwing for 300 yards and had two touchdown passes, one of which was an absolute dime to Jarvis Landry in the third quarter. However, he had five total turnovers including two interceptions. While 3 of those 5 can be attributed to either miscommunication or just simply not catching the ball, you simply cannot win football games by turning the ball over that many times.
The Ravens are currently tied for 1st in the division with the Bengals at 3-1. They have a top 10 offense with Joe Flacco and are #2 in the league in overall defense. This will not be an easy game, even with home-field on their side. If Cleveland finds themselves up on Baltimore in the fourth, they absolutely cannot let penalties or mental mistakes keep them from victory like so many other occasions before.
Maintain discipline and keep their foot on the gas until the very end, or Baltimore will assuredly find themselves back in the game. This is a team that needs to learn how to see games out to the end, and they will only get better at it by executing on the field.