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3 Big Takeaways: Browns never had their hand on a game that got lopsided in a hurry

1. Browns never had their hand on a game that got lopsided in a hurry

Up until Sunday, every Browns game went down to the very last play. As a result, every little moment was fair game to be dissected and analyzed because it truly could have changed the result of the game.

Sunday was different for the Browns, and so was the aftermath. Cleveland fell behind after the Chargers’ first offensive possession, never got closer than 4 points and faced its largest deficit of the season by the end of the first half.

It didn’t get any better in the second half, and the end result, a 38-14 Chargers rout, was Cleveland’s most lopsided in nearly two years.

“I do not ever think that it got away; I do not know if we ever got our hand on it,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “We just did not play well.”

It started with the offense, which struggled out of the gate and never recovered. That carried over to the defense, which surrendered a season-worst 246 rushing yards and a number of big passes by veteran Philip Rivers. His quarterback counterpart, Browns rookie Baker Mayfield, threw two interceptions, was sacked five times and saw a number of his passes dropped all while dealing with a sore ankle. Mayfield suffered the injury on a first-quarter scramble but was quick to deflect any correlation between it and his performance.

“We did not execute. We did not do our job. We were not detailed. We did not do the things that we talked about all week. That is the most disappointing thing,” said Mayfield, who was 22-for-46 for 238 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. “Anytime you do not do your job … I am at fault for majority of that. I am going to be very hard on myself. We have to be able to look at this and learn from it. We have to be more prepared coming into the next week.”

The same went for a Browns defense that was coming off its best performance of the season in last week’s 12-9 overtime win over the Ravens. The Chargers averaged nearly 7 yards per rush attempt and Rivers needed just three big throws to Tyrell Williams -- two of which went for touchdowns -- to leave his mark on the game.

Add it all together, and the Browns had little to second-guess or revisit after the game. The answers were simple: They simply have to be much better than they were Sunday next week against the Buccaneers and beyond.

“That’s the NFL,” safety Damarious Randall said. “I feel like we will handle it well. We are going to go in and watch the film and correct the mistakes that we made. We have got to clean up a lot of things and get ready to play in Tampa.”

2. Injuries cut deep at a position that couldn’t afford anymore

The Browns entered Sunday’s game with just four healthy receivers after Rashard Higgins was diagnosed with a sprained MCL on Monday a late-week injury to undrafted rookie Derrick Willies, who was placed on injured reserve Saturday. That number went down to three in a hurry after veteran Rod Streater suffered a stinger early in the first quarter.

It made for a less-than-ideal situation for a Browns receiving corps that couldn’t find much separation throughout Sunday’s loss.

“Nobody is going to cry about it right now,” Jackson said. “No other team cares about what our issues are. We have to fix them, and we will. We are just getting off of a game where we did not play as well. We will look at every avenue to fix whatever we think the issues are as we move forward so I am sure we will do that.”

The Browns signed former first-round pick Breshad Perriman on Saturday. He’ll go through his first practice with the team Wednesday. Da’Mari Scott, who has been with the team since May, provides an option from the practice squad if, in the event Streater is sidelined for next week or more, Cleveland looks for a plug-and-play option.

“We will get him going this week,” Jackson said, referring to Perriman. “We will find a way to put the right guys out there to gives us a chance to win.”

Just 10 of Mayfield’s 22 completions went to wide receivers. Sixth-round rookie Damion Ratley led the group with six catches for 82 yards while veteran Jarvis Landry had two for 11 on nine targets. Nothing came easy for Cleveland’s top pass-catcher, as Landry has dealt with heavy coverage week after week while the Browns deal with attrition at the position.

“I will get my stuff fixed,” Mayfield said. “None of that is on Jarvis. He is doing his job. I have to find ways get him the ball more.”

3. Browns hoping for the best with injured LB Joe Schobert

Linebacker Joe Schobert, Cleveland’s lone Pro Bowler in 2017, hadn’t missed a snap in the past 21 games. That ended abruptly in Sunday’s second half, when the third-year middle linebacker grabbed the back of his leg and was promptly sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Schobert leads the Browns with 46 tackles and has had his hands in four of the team’s 16 takeaways with an interception, forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. More importantly, he’s “the quarterback” of Cleveland’s defense, as coordinator Gregg Williams described him this past Friday.

The Browns will learn more about Schobert’s prognosis Monday. The same goes for his backup, James Burgess, who went down with a hamstring injury shortly after Schobert’s.

“Joe is definitely the heart and soul of our defense; him, (Christian Kirksey) and a number of other players,” defensive back T.J. Carrie said. “Hopefully everything goes well. If not, it’s always about the next-man mentality and that’s how you have to approach the league. Who’s going to be the next guy to step up and make a difference?

“Joe’s going to still be there however long he’s out. He’s going to still be leading us in a number of different ways.”

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