ANALYSIS: Browns get burned in Houston

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Jake Adams headshot

Jake Adams

The Cleveland Browns went south to play the scorching hot Houston Texans Sunday. While the Browns came in with a three-game streak, the Texans rolled their last eight opponents. Baker Mayfield had his work cut out for him, considering defensive ends J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney are two of the best pass rushers in the league.

It seemed as if the Browns could not handle the Texas heat, because they were thrashed by Houston. Deshaun Watson and the Houston wideouts carved up the Browns secondary. Gregg Williams and the Cleveland defense had zero answers for the talented dual threat quarterback and his receivers. Houston’s running back, Lamar Miller, also was getting chunks of yards per carry.

On the other side of the ball, Baker Mayfield struggled; the rookie quarterback tried to do too much. I understand having urgency to score when down, but forcing passes will only lead to picks in the NFL. It didn’t help that the Browns completely abandoned the run game with Nick Chubb, who was having a decent day on the ground.

It was just an all around wash in the first half for the Browns, who looked outplayed and outclassed. They found themselves in a 23-0 hole against one of the best teams in the league.

It was setting up to be an all-around frustrating day for Cleveland.  

The Browns came out of halftime with a score, but did give up a long field goal to the Texans. The Browns slipped back into “Classic Browns” mode with two long touchdowns being negated. One was for a holding call on the line, and the other was poor ball security from Antonio Callaway. The Browns youthful mistakes really stuck their head out this game.

The stout Houston defense refused to break with crucial stops in the third and fourth quarters. The Browns became too desperate in this game, every play design seemed to want to get big yards. I understand you have to look downfield, but when it’s third and short, you have to prioritize moving the chains.

This game just reminded me of the Los Angeles Chargers bout. The team seemed helpless on both sides of the ball, there was no stopping the Deshaun Watson passing attack when he scrambled and the offense couldn’t catch a break with either penalties or self-inflicted wounds.

The Browns may have had a wake up call here. The NFL operates as a “week to week” league: No team cares that you won three games in a row, and your rookie quarterback won rookie of the month. In fact, that’s all of the motivation to go out and get in the opponent’s face. The Texans got in the Browns’ face, and they responded by folding over.

While the Browns are essentially playing for pride at this point of the season, they have to develop into a team that can compete week to week. This season has been anything but that. While there are positive wins to savor, there are more disappointing losses to the Raiders, Tampa Bay and the Steelers.

The Browns play two tough non-divisional teams in the Panthers and Broncos, then have two must wins against the Bengals and Ravens. Let’s hope next week the Browns come more prepared.

Jake Adams is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected]