NFL: Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Preview
What started off as a frustrating albeit promising season has now begun to spiral out of control for the Browns. Following yet another heartbreaking loss, they find themselves at 2-4-1 with possibly their toughest stretch of games ahead.
Mix in obvious tensions between coaching staff and a plethora of injuries on both offense and defense, and you're left wondering where this team could be in following their bye week. This team has to get on the right track quickly, or they could find themselves derailed halfway through the season. This Sunday they travel to Pittsburgh to play their hated rival. What needs to be done to ensure victory for this team?
First-half sluggishness must end
Cleveland have been notoriously slow starters this year as the offense are seemingly without end, even with rookie Baker Mayfield being an improvement over the stagnant Tyrod Taylor. Having only scored two touchdowns in the first half through seven games so far this season, it has made every game they've been in an uphill battle. Mayfield was asked about what can be done to remedy these offensive issues, and he says that the Browns do not need to try anything out of the box to get things clicking.
“You look at the good teams around the league. They work hard at what they do, and they become very, very good at it." Mayfield says. "We have what we have. We do not need to try to change too much. We just need to get better at what we are doing. There is not a secret recipe for success besides working your [butt] off with what you have.”
The Browns will be looking to find their first win on the road in years against Pittsburgh, who seem to be finally finding their footing without their star running back Le'Veon Bell. If they are to win, the offense must come strong out of the box and not let up for four full quarters.
Show more discipline
The Cleveland Browns are second to last in the league for penalties, racking up over eight per game. Regardless of how anyone feels about the officiating this year, as it has been well-documented that things could be better on their side, this team must be more disciplined.
More than once had the defense stopped Tampa Bay on third down last week, only for the drive to be continued because of penalties that can be easily avoided. You can never give a team as stacked with talent on offense like Tampa Bay or Pittsburgh second lives because they will make you pay every single time. This is a young team, yes, but they must cut down on the errors in order to give themselves a fighting chance.
Put the egos aside
Browns offensive coordinator Todd Haley is no stranger to friction with those around him. While in Pittsburgh, he famously butt heads with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and now, as shown from this season of Hard Knocks, it seems he is butting heads with head coach Hue Jackson.
Frictions continued after the loss to the Buccaneers as Jackson made it known that he believed he had every right as head coach to step in for the offense if he felt things weren't going well. While that is true, that should be a matter to be discussed behind closed doors and not in the press. Bringing your dirty laundry out in the open the way that Hue Jackson did is a clear sign that things are none too peachy in Berea nowadays in the coaching staff room.
Now is not the time for squabbling, however. This is a young and fairly talented team that has promise, and your efforts should be going more towards molding your potential franchise quarterback for the future rather than arguing over who should call plays. If this team wants to develop a winning culture, they must put aside their feelings for one another and work as professionals, else we will be looking at yet another front office shake-up in Cleveland.