The last time the Cleveland Browns posted a winning record during an NFL season, Brian Hoyer was starting at quarterback.
On Sunday, the Browns have an opportunity to improve to 2-1 on the season and post their first winning record during a season since 2014.
However, it will not be a cake walk for the Browns.
Washington, who is currently 1-1 on the season, have established quite the dominant front four on defense.
Leading the way for Washington is none other than former Ohio State defensive end, Chase Young, who is currently tied with TJ Watt with a league-leading 2.5 sacks on the season. His presence alone will create some disturbances for the Browns offensive line, which so far, has been near perfect in the first two games.
But the Browns have a great opportunity to attack some of Washington’s weak points.
Here are some numbers to look out for during the game on Sunday.
Eleven: That is the number of sacks Washington’s defence has accumulated so far this season. With Cleveland’s offensive line playing the way it has so far, this will be its first true test, especially for first-year players like Jedrick Wills. This is arguably the most intriguing matchup between the two teams.
Twenty-Five: Dwayne Haskins does not fare well while under pressure. In fact, his completion percentage while under pressure is just 25%.
The Browns have got to look at that stat and lick their chops. You get pressure on Haskins, you give yourself an opportunity for turnovers and incompletions, which leads into the next number.
Thirty: Washington’s third-down completion percentage, which is currently dead last in the NFL, sits at just 30%. Considering the Bengals went five-for-five on fourth down last week, look for the Browns to be aggressive on getting to Haskins, especially early on. If the Browns can get Washington into some third-and-long situations, they will be favoured.
Forty-Six: According to ESPN, Terry McLaurin has accounted for over 46% of Washington’s passing attack, which is the highest percentage of any player in the NFL. He also accounts for 33% of Washington’s overall offence. With Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams both possibly out of Sunday’s game, look for Washington to use McLaurin in many ways and get him going early and often.
Zero: That is the number of turnovers the Browns’ defence has accumulated so far this season. The Browns have yet to win the turnover margin in both of their games, despite winning last week. If the Browns want a chance at this game, this defence has got to create some turnovers
Two: Cleveland owns the top-two running backs in the NFL. If you are the Cleveland Browns, the best way to counter Washington’s deadly pass rush is by attacking them in the run game. Give those two guys the ball and let them make plays.
Thirty: When Baker Mayfield throws the ball 30 times or less, the Browns chances of winning go up tremendously.
Out of the nine games in which Baker Mayfield threw the ball 30 times or less in his career, the Browns have won seven of those games.
Now, here’s the kicker.
Out of the 23 career games Mayfield had to throw the ball 31 times or more, the Browns have only won eight — yes, eight — of those games.
If the Browns want continued success for not only this upcoming game vs Washington but also the rest of the season and beyond, they have got to get the run game going and take the pressure off Mayfield from throwing the ball a ton.
Luckily, with Kevin Stefanski’s offense, that shouldn’t be much of an issue.