Browns offense is not ready for the regular season, let alone prime time

Tyrod Taylor's hand injury the latest complication in a long list that has hit the team

Daryl Ruiter
August 24, 2018 - 2:26 am

© Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports/© Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – While the Cleveland Browns’ defense looks ready for the regular season, their offense does not.

After the passing game dominated the preseason opener against the Giants and the run game took top billing against Buffalo, head coach Hue Jackson had hoped everything would come together against the Eagles Thursday night on national TV.

Instead, it fell apart.

Despite the defense forcing 4 turnovers and getting a stop on downs in the first half, the offense managed to cash the opportunities in for a whopping 3 points in a 5-0 victory over Philadelphia. 

Let’s start where we always do – the quarterback.

Starter Tyrod Taylor suffered a left-hand injury in the first quarter.

Jackson said X-rays were negative, but that’s not the end of the story because Taylor will undergo further testing on Friday. The hope is Taylor is okay and he will still be ready Sept. 9 against Pittsburgh.

Jackson tempted fate when he decided it would be a great idea to put Taylor back in after receiving the medical clearance to do so in the second quarter. After seeing Taylor hand off the first time with both hands, Jackson should’ve immediately given the veteran the hook. He didn’t, and Taylor played 3 more offensive series – 5 total – before the half in a meaningless preseason game that saw players drop like flies in the first half.

At least Jackson didn’t put Baker Mayfield back in after the independent medical observers called down to make sure Mayfield was examined after he tripped over a defender and hit his head on Shon Coleman’s leg in the fourth quarter.

Mayfield looked fine after the 5-0 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Taylor was nowhere to be found.

A team spokesman said Taylor underwent treatment during the second half in the locker room before leaving the stadiumwithout talking to reporters.

Meanwhile Mayfield did not look ready for those long-awaited first-team reps in his 2 series before finishing his night of work with the backups in the second half.

Following a beautiful 20-yard completion to Rashard Higgins, Mayfield's first drive stalled and Cleveland turned it over on downs at the 39.

Mayfield was handed a golden opportunity when linebacker Genard Avery strip-sacked Eagles Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles and defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah fell on the loose ball at the Eagles 35. But after Hyde ran for 5 on first down, Mayfield was sacked for a loss of 8 on second down and an incompletion to receiver Jarvis Landry on third down ended that.

Zane Gonzalez accounted for the only offensive scoring with a 54-yard field goal to provide the final score with 14:57 left in the second quarter.

The ‘dress rehearsal’ turned into a snooze fest from there.

Landry had an unusual night that saw him targeted 10 times but catch just 3 passes for 23 yards. Rookie Antonio Callaway sat out with a groin injury and Josh Gordon watched from the sideline and bench where he chewed on sunflower seeds.

But at least Gordon’s around the team, and there's a chance he'll be cleared to practice this weekend, so that’s a positive.

Tight end David Njoku caught all 4 of his targets for 25 yards.

The most bizarre sequence offensively of the night came right before Taylor appeared to snap his left wrist in 2.

After running back Carlos Hyde ripped off a 33-yard run and Nick Chubb blew through for another 21 yards to the 11, Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley forgot to run the ball again on the drive. A 10-yard throw to Njoku, who tried but failed to get to the end zone after going airborne inside the 5, put the ball at the 1.

Taylor failed to hit Landry on first, third and fourth down with passes. He misfired on a toss to rookie Damion Ratley on second down too ending another potential for points. 

Right tackle Chris Hubbard departed briefly in the second quarter with a leg injury before shaking it off and returning. That’s all the Browns need is another offensive lineman to go down but he appears to be fine according to Jackson. They’re still awaiting the return of rght guard Kevin Zeitler from a calf injury to finally allow them to have their complete starting 5 for the first time since camp began.

Unfortunately, injuries and Gordon’s circumstances haven’t allowed the Browns to develop the offensive cohesion we’re seeing on the defensive side of the ball and it appears that Haley and Jackson are forced now to wait until the regular season were nothing is guarenteed to come together or fall into place.

The hope is that Taylor is fine, Gordon returns this weekend to practice and is up and running in 16 days and the offensive line magically comes together to provide the running lanes and pass blocking required to win.

The good news is that the run game does look on track but that’s about where it ends offensively where there is a lot of work to do and not much time to get healthy so they can get it done.