My thoughts on all 32 NFL franchises ahead of the chaotic 2021 off-season conclude today with thoughts on the eight teams from NFC south and west divisions.
It was the battle of Ohio to open week 2 of the NFL season as the Browns hosted Joe Burrow and the Bengals. This match up was about much more than who would come out on top.
It was about the quarterback battle, both former Heisman Trophy winners in Joe Burrow and Baker Mayfield.
Last week Burrow was okay in his NFL debut, getting his side in field goal range late in the 4th before the kick was ultimately missed as he lost to the Chargers 16-13, and Baker Mayfield who got mauled by the Ravens 38-6.
The spotlight was on Baker.
He could not afford to have a rookie come into his house and show him up. While he didn’t entirely impress me his pass off play action to Odell Beckham for a touchdown was a thing of beauty as he dropped it right down the chimney for a 43 yard bomb.
It was a stark contrast between the two QB.
Mayfield went 16/23 for 219 yards a TD and a horrible pick near the RedZone, while Burrow was asked to throw the ball a mammoth 61 times of which he completed 37 of them for over 300 yards and 3 TDs.
Now if your QB is asked to throw that many times, it is never a good thing. It means there is no balance to the offence and the defence and secondary can tee off on the quarterback which for the most part Burrow did okay with.
Mayfield was serviceable, doing only what he had too and having for me the best 1-2 punch in the NFL in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt behind him. They ran wild against the Bengals defence who are one of the worst teams against the run. Chubb went or 124 yards and 2 TDs on 22 carries and Hunt ran for 86 yards and a TD on 10 carries and that meant Mayfield only had to throw when he needed to, something that could not be said for Burrow.
What impressed me most with the rookie was his poise and calmness when in the pocket and under pressure.
He did get rocked when Myles Garret got himself a strip sack (1 of 3 for the night) but he kept on going. He had some real nice throws to AJ Green should have been completed by the Pro Bowl receiver and some nice QB designed runs as well in what was a competent showing for mine. He just needs some more help around him, and his defence needs to figure out how to stop the run.
The main stats for the game all went Cleveland’s way.
The Browns had 215 rushing yards to the Bengals 65 which is a huge discrepancy, the Browns went at 7.5 yards a play to 4.0 of the Bengals and the most telling stat was the Cleveland went at 62per cent on third down to 44per cent of the Bengals. More total yards, more rushing yards, and seven more minutes in time of possession thanks to their running back duo and the Browns were never really in any trouble of losing this one at any stage despite what the scoreboard says.
Overall, I got what I expected, a Cleveland win and got to see Joe Burrow impress yet again although a high scoring game with the final scoreline of 35-30 was not expected. The Mayfield haters and critics were silenced for at least another week and the plaudits for Burrow will continue and he will only get better as he is just two games into his NFL career.