Two weeks ago, I wrote:
“Baker has done an incredible job of reducing his interceptions, and now he has to fix his fumbling problem.”
He didn’t listen. Now look what happened.
Nevertheless, Bakes almost pulled off a victory in one of the NFL’s patented shit-shows that they insist on stocking their shelves with. Without fans in the stadiums, the NFL is a straight-up TV show. Forcing teams to play without large chunks of their starters is like tuning into Seinfeld and seeing the Jerry character played by Ricky Gervais.
Nobody wants that.
And nobody wants the ridiculous “Holy Roller” rule either. Talk about random nonsense. But kudos to Kareem Hunt for recovering the ball and getting what should have been a first down. Once again, Kareem does everything and should be on the field at all times, including special teams and defense. Maybe he could play free safety, and at this point, we should probably let him kick extra points too.
He’s. Just. That. Good.
Last year, Baker had no confidence in his o-line and would often bail out of the pocket too early. Against the Jets on Sunday, Baker had the opposite problem: he trusted his depleted o-line too much. Hopefully, he will learn from the experience and get the ball out quicker until Jedrick and Wyatt are back.
I can’t believe these people who criticize Chubb & Hunt for failing to gain more yardage. Running backs don’t make holes; they find holes. The hard truth is that, like the loss to the Raiders, the Browns got beat in the trenches. With the Browns’ passing threat greatly diminished, the Jets were able to pin their ears back and shut down the Browns’ ground attack.
However, after the Browns finally started throwing some short passes to Chubb & Hunt, things started percolating. The Browns average 145 yards per game rushing, and if you add in those short-passing yards, Chubb & Hunt combined for 118 all-purpose yards. Not too shabby considering the circumstances. Chubb & Hunt also scored a touchdown apiece.
That wasn’t the problem.
The real problem was all the dropped passes. With more-reliable pass-catchers, the Jets would have had to back off a bit, and that would have loosened up the run game. Since the Browns were spotting the Jets four receivers, the tight-ends needed to step up their game, but they could not. David Njoku was the exception, catching all four of his targets. It’s not surprising that the Baker-Njoku duo would be the best of such a game seeing as how Njoku was the only member of the original Bake-Pack on the field. But unbelievably, Njoku was only on the field for 31 of the game’s 81 snaps.
Njoku is the Browns’ #3 tight-end, but catches more of his targets (70.8%) than Hooper (64.6%) or Bryant (63.2%). Time for a promotion.
All of the above notwithstanding, Baker did lead an impressive comeback in the second half and came very close to sending the game into overtime. Baker & the Browns don’t always win, but they never quit.
The Steelers will be resting Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday, and possibly some other banged-up players. So, we might have the Browns’ “A” team versus the Steelers “B” team. Therefore, nothing short of a dog-pounding is required for the Browns to conclude that they are the better team. Even Mason Rudolph should be able to throw a couple of touchdowns against the Browns’ secondary (if they play like they did against the Jets) so an acceptable final score would be in the neighborhood of: Browns 62 Steelers 14.