Skip to main content

With one game left before bye, Browns realize they 'have to get going right now'

After five weeks, the Browns still haven't found their footing offensively.

At 2-3, it could get late pretty soon.

The sense of urgency is heightened inside the team's facility, as first expressed by quarterback Baker Mayfield and echoed by his teammates on both sides of the ball Thursday. 

Wide receiver Jarvis Landry repeatedly harped on the team needing to be "intentional" in everything it does, and especially in getting the ball to its key players. It's time to get out of the starting blocks.

"We've just got to find ways to be more intentional," Landry said. "I just believe in that. We've just got to find ways to get guys that we believe are game-changers the ball. And defenses gotta try to stop it. I don't think it should ever be about us. I think the defense should have their hands full and should have to stop us."

It's not as if the Browns aren't attempting to get the ball to Odell Beckham Jr., because they are. Beckham has been targeted 43 times, but caught just 23 of those targets for 335 yards and one touchdown through five games.

In the larger picture, those aren't terrible numbers, though the discrepancy between targets and receptions doesn't bode well for overall offensive success. But this is also occurring in an environment in which defenses are dedicating plenty of resources to taking Beckham out of the game. 

So the Browns decided to counter in Week 5 by getting Beckham the ball in unconventional ways. They lined him up as a tailback and tossed him the ball for a short rushing gain. They used the same formation again later to open a huge rushing lane for Nick Chubb. And they also had Beckham throw a pass to start the game. 

The creativity isn't lacking. It just isn't producing what everyone ultimately wants: wins.

And with a meeting with the New England Patriots awaiting the Browns on the other side of the upcoming bye, there isn't much time left to figure things out. 

"Even though it's early, it's definitely a point in our season where we have to hit the ground running," Landry said. "Like, we have to get going right now. No more peaks and valleys. I think the biggest thing about teams in this league, great teams, playoff teams, they put streaks together. At some point during the season they put a couple four- or five-game streaks together. We've got to find a way to do that. We can start with it before the bye."

If the struggles continue with getting Beckham open to make big plays, the team can turn to No. 80 more often for big plays. He did it plenty in the Week 4 win over Baltimore, recording eight receptions for 167 yards before exiting with a concussion in the third quarter. And the improving availability of receivers beneath Beckham and Landry — Rashard Higgins, Antonio Callaway, and the relative emergence of Ricky Seals-Jones — should increase the Browns' chances for offensive success.

But until it happens, these questions will keep flying. As Beckham pointed out, things are far from disastrous. Somewhere in there is the offense that put up 530 yards on Baltimore. They just need to trend in the positive direction moving forward if this team wants to fulfill its playoff aspirations.

"Right now the season can go either way," Beckham said. "We are at that fork in the road. And it is funny we are all having these conversations where as I feel like in the past this team might have been 1-4, 0-5 and now we are all upset because we are 2-3. So that is the good mindset that we have. That we are upset that we are 2-3 and we know that we are capable of doing more. It is just about doing more."