CLEVELAND, OH – Despite getting their first win—as well as the first for Cleveland Browns rookie head coach Kevin Stefanski—35-30 over the Cincinnati Bengals, potential issues of a shaky and suspect defense arose despite the victory.
I hate to be THAT guy trying to rain on everyone’s parade in trying to nitpick following a much-needed—and narrow—win over the second coming of Jesus Christ down in the Bayou in the form of Joe Burrow and his 61-pass onslaught for 316 yards and three touchdowns.
But when you allow a rookie in Burrow to look like a Hall of Famer in his second ever NFL start—and his first on the road—and almost be in the position to win, there is a problem.
Allowing the reigning NFL MVP in Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson to drop 38 points on you is one thing, but when you let The Tiger King to come within 43 seconds of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat in your house and hang another 30 on you?
You got some issues.
In their first two games, the Browns have surrendered an average of 34.0 points per game. Now while one can understand that due to COVID-19 that there was not enough time to fully install and learn new defensive coordinator Joe Woods’ 4-3 system that he brought over from San Francisco, and that notable starters such as Mack Wilson are unavailable, but Baltimore is the closest rival to the defending Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, and Cincinnati is a competent offensive line away from being a real problem.
Dismiss the Bengals at your own peril, but Burrow looks like the real deal, who has some baby Brady/Manning in him. And you best believe that he will be chomping at the bit to get another crack at the Browns and their suspect defense when Cleveland travels downstate to the Queen City.
It’s only two games, and there is time to fix and address the issues on the Browns defense, but unless Baker Mayfield stops making Progressive Insurance and Hulu commercials enough to progress on the field, I wouldn’t hold my breath, and it could be a long and bumpy ride for Browns fans in watching Cleveland’s defense this season.