Browns hope to remedy 2nd quarter struggles, their 'Achilles Heel' in disappointing start

Before the Browns enter the second quarter of the regular season, they've first trained a lens on their problems in the second quarter.

Head coach Hue Jackson described the period as a weakness they need to address after a disappointing, frustrating and unexpected 0-4 start.

"We have to quit falling behind so quickly. The second quarter has been our Achilles' Heel," Jackson said. "We've talked about that this morning. We have to shore that up."

Indeed, the Browns have been outscored 63-21 in the second quarter and are allowing an average of 16 points in the period. To put that figure in perspective, it means 59 percent of the points scored against the Browns have come in that 15-minute span.

In Sunday's "unacceptable" 31-7 loss to the Bengals, they allowed three touchdowns — including a 61-yard score 47 seconds before halftime — in that frame following a scoreless first quarter. Generally speaking, the first half has given Cleveland problems. The Browns have been outgained 839-594 in total yards in the first half, allowed 49 first downs in that frame and have yet to own a lead this season.

Falling behind early, of course, also changes several in-game dynamics. Cleveland, which spoke of a re-commitment to the run game behind Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr., hasn't been able to consistently follow through on that pledge. Instead, the Browns have turned to rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer and their pass game to lift them past those deficits.

"When you look up and you are down 21-0 or whatever it was, that's hard. You're not going to score a lot of points by just running the ball. I think you guys know that," Jackson said.

"You have to have chunk plays in the National Football League to score. Even on the drive when we're getting down there, we handed Crow the ball for about 15 yards or something like that. That is the way it works in the National Football League. There will be a time – I'm going to say it again – when we'll be able to run the football."

But first, the Browns know they'll need to remedy their first-half struggles, among other dynamics, that have been their undoing thus far.

"We can't get to some of the things we want to do until we are truly in a football game where we are not trying to come from behind," Jackson said. "Every game takes on a life of its own."

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