Trouble Loaded Browns – LimaOhio.com

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CLEVELAND, AP — For the second year in a row, Bill Belichick has given Kevin Stefanski and his Browns team a free practice clinic.

It was not without pain.

While tied for second with George Halas in career coaching wins, Belichick exposed all of Cleveland’s weaknesses in the 38-15 dismantling of the Browns in New England on Sunday. He did the same to his former team last year in a 45-7 beating.

This lopsided loss – the Browns’ other three were by six points combined – confirmed the problems that Stefanski and his assistants have faced for weeks and exposed new concerns as the Browns (2-4) enter a series of tough games, starting this week in Baltimore.

Belichick rolled out more defensive range early, knowing Cleveland would rely on their NFL-leading running game led by Nick Chubb. It forced the Browns through and Jacoby Brissett threw the first of two interceptions on the second play of the game.

It quickly went downhill from there as the offense stalled, failed to capitalize after Cleveland’s defense forced a turnover, and spent the afternoon playing catch-up.

On defense, the Browns’ tackling issues from the previous two games improved and they kept the Patriots 98 yards rushing. However, the Cleveland line didn’t put enough pressure on rookie Bailey Zappe, who threw for 309 yards and a pair of touchdowns in his second NFL start.

It’s been like that all season for Stefanski. Fix one thing, something else breaks. Every move he made on Sunday, Belichick countered.

Trailing 24-15, Cleveland sealed their fate by missing an onside kick and missing a punt — unforgivable against any team, death sentences against Belichick.

Brissett had his worst game, completing 21 of 45 passes for 266 yards with three turnovers. However, veteran QB back-up during Deshaun Watson’s suspension had a positive impact afterwards, addressing his teammates in the locker room.

Brissett implored the Browns to stick together, be responsible and work hard.

The post inspired former All-Pro right tackle Jack Conklin to say something else to his teammates.

“My last year at Tennessee, we were 2-4 and ended up fishing 9-7 and making the AFC championship game,” he said Monday. “It’s just about catching fire, getting started and it all starts this week in Baltimore. We just have to start making good plays and playing well, complementary ball as a team and it will start rolling together.

At least Belichick isn’t ahead.

WHAT WORKS

Not a lot. It’s no secret that if the Browns can’t run the ball, they’re in trouble. Belichick had them fight with a tied hand. Brissett has been inaccurate and sloppy over the past two weeks, and his inability to connect on deep throws takes away from the fast hitting potential.

Stefanski is not hinting at a QB change.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Name it. But Cleveland’s defense remains the most troubled spot. Coordinator Joe Woods’ scheme has been called into question, and there are concerns that the Browns’ linebackers are undersized and therefore unable to stop the run. Injuries to Pro Bowl cornerback Denzel Ward (concussion) and edge carrier Jadeveon Clowney (ankle) only make matters worse.

STORE

Rookie kicker Cade York had a pair of misses a week earlier when making field goals for 39, 48 and 51 yards.

SOLD OUT

It was supposed to be a breakout season for safety Grant Delpit, a 2020 second-round pick. It’s broken at this point. Delpit has been on the field for miscommunication between Cleveland defensive backs, and on Sunday he made two notable errors in the third quarter.

First, he failed to wrap a Patriots receiver, dropping his shoulder and knocking teammate Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah off a potential tackle in the process on a reception that became a 53-yard play. He also lost his footing and was beaten on a 31-yard TD pass.

INJURIES

Stefanski said Ward remains on concussion protocol. … The team is also awaiting imaging results on the injured calf of All-Pro right guard Wyatt Teller. He left in the first half and didn’t come back. … DE Myles Garrett (left shoulder) continues to deal with an injury sustained in a car accident last month. He will probably rest most of this week. … Conklin sprained his ankle on Sunday, but doesn’t expect that to keep him out.

KEY NUMBER

12 – Chubb is at a season low for runs as the Patriots rarely let him escape the first wave of tackles and get into space.

AND AFTER

Buckle up, it’s going to be bumpy. After the Ravens (3-3), the Browns face the Cincinnati Bengals (3-3), the Miami Dolphins (3-3), the Buffalo Bills (5-1) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3- 3) before Watson’s eventual return.

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