CLEVELAND– The Cleveland Browns won their fourth straight game at First Energy Stadium as they defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 27-19 on Sunday. Despite Cleveland’s flaws offensively and the Bengals outgaining them by over 100 yards, the Browns emerged for their sixth victory of the 2019 season.
However, the focus wasn’t on the victory as the team has controversy surrounding it once again but it’s self-inflicted based on what the players said or essentially didn’t say.
There was plenty to take away from Sunday’s victory over the Bengals. For just the seventh time since 1999, the Browns will have won six games or more in a single season. With a win in their final three games, the Browns will avoid double-digit losses for the sixth time since 1999 and doing it in back to back seasons for the first time since the 2001 and 2002 seasons.
After being pass-happy throughout much of the first half, Cleveland stuck to the running game in the second half with 18 carries compared to the eight they ran in the first half.
Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt combined 24 carries for 134 yards and a touchdown against the worst run defense in the NFL and has proven to be a lethal combo for opposing defenses since Hunt’s return from suspension. Chubb continues to lead the league in carries and rushing yards while Hunt has given the offense another weapon in both rushing and receiving with 311 yards from scrimmage and three total touchdowns since his return.
Defensively, the team had a bend but don’t break type performance against a Cincinnati offense that had some confidence coming after scoring 22 points en route to the team’s first win against the Jets last week. Although they put up 451 yards of total offense, Cincinnati could only muster one touchdown and four field goals.
They also had a crucial turnover when Auden Tate deflected a ball into Denzel Ward’s hands that led to Ward’s first career return touchdown.
Cleveland was also able to generate some pressure against a poor Cincinnati offensive line and not having Olivier Vernon. The Browns had two sacks and six QB hits led by Larry Ogunjobi’s three hits and 0.5 sacks. Guys like Bryan Cox Jr. have stepped up being acquisitions in wake of the Myles Garrett suspension and could be playing his way into a rotational role for the 2020 season.
Odell Beckham: Does He Want Out?
Last week, the discussion was that Beckham doesn’t want to leave the Browns and that he didn’t know what his future was going despite internet rumors suggesting that he was going to ask for a trade during the upcoming offseason.
By Sunday morning prior to the game, one of the top national NFL writers confirmed those internet rumors and provided context as well.
Looking at it from an outsider’s perspective, this isn’t surprising if indeed Beckham wants out from Cleveland but let’s look at all that we know right now.
His production has taken a dip but with the report that he needs offseason surgery on a sports hernia that has limited him all season. His 59 catches, 844 yards, and two touchdowns are all second to his best friend Jarvis Landry in the receiving categories.
However, the Browns don’t have to move him as Beckham is under contract for four more years after this season. The guaranteed money essentially is up after this season so it would be easier to move him if the Browns choose to do that although if they can’t recoup what they gave up for him (First-round pick, a third-round pick, and a player), it makes no sense to move him.
I can imagine the losing is getting old for Beckham, who has played in the postseason just once in his six NFL seasons but instead of being another piece of the problem in Cleveland, hopefully himself and the organization can work their differences out and be part of the long-term solution to turning the franchise into a sustained winner.
The Good and the Bad of Baker Mayfield
2019 has been an up and down season for Baker Mayfield, to say the least with Sunday easily being one of the worst games of the second-year quarterback’s career.
Mayfield struggled against Cincinnati going 11 of 24 for 192 yards and two interceptions. He did manage to have his third rushing touchdown of the season but you could tell that it just wasn’t his day.
In his postgame press conference, Mayfield called out the medical staff for how they handled Beckham’s sports hernia.
Mayfield later took to Twitter to apologize but it was a bad look by the quarterback. We all knew when the Browns drafted him that we were going to get a brutally honest person and player and that’s fine and it’s great to see someone speak their mind in this politically correct society we live in.
However, it was wrong of him to essentially throw the organization and the medical staff under the bus and that’s something that should’ve been dealt with behind closed doors. All it does now is open up another can of worms in a season that has already been plagued with more news about things going on off the field than on the field when the Browns are still technically alive in the playoff hunt.
Mayfield needs to work on a lot of things this offseason as a football player and how he handles the media aspect of football is definitely one of those things. If he wants to speak his mind that’s fine but if the subject doesn’t concern him, he should be wise to move on to the next question.