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Browns & Ravens: Failed teams with awkward seasons – Terry Pluto's Pregame Doodles

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BALTIMORE – Scribbles in my notebook as the Browns prepare to face the Ravens in Baltimore:

1. Where to start? How about this: Baltimore is expected to be better than 3-3 at this point. The Browns certainly had reason to believe their record would look more like 4-2 than 2-4. But that’s where they stop. Baltimore and Cincinnati share lead 3-3 in the AFC North. Cleveland and Pittsburgh are 2-4 behind. Remember, the winner of the division automatically receives a playoff bid, regardless of record. All division games are huge!

2. Let’s talk about Baltimore. Let’s talk about how Baltimore had a 31-2 record when they were up at least 10 points in the second half. This is from 2018-21, Lamar Jackson Era. This season, the Ravens are 2-3 when they’re leading by at least 10 points as they enter the fourth quarter this season.

3. Do you want to talk about exaggerated news, miscommunication and general confusion in the defense? Yes, you can talk about Browns. But that was also the story of Baltimore this season. That’s why so many tips were wasted.

4. This is a matchup of the two worst fourth-quarter defenses in the NFL. In the final period, the Browns allowed 67 points compared to 64 for the Ravens. Regardless of which team had a good lead in the fourth quarter, watch out – either team could screw it up.

Illustration by Ted Crow for Crowquill. The Browns try out a new QB spotter team for Ravens week.

5. Jackson did not help the situation. In the first three quarters of games, 13 TDs made passes compared to a double interception. In the fourth quarter, one TD pass compared to four interceptions. These stats show that if you put a little pressure on Jackson in a tight game (at least this season), he’s prone to making mistakes.

6. Scouts say Jackson will “take a few bad shots” every game. The key is to take advantage of those with interventions. Jackson continues to torment teams with a rushed run of 451 yards (average 8.1) this season.

7. Baltimore plays a lot of misdirection games trying to confuse the defense. This also creates space for Jackson to run. They also come back quickly on the Kenyan Drake, which averages 5.9 yards per carry. Jackson is the real running game for Baltimore.

8. Baltimore averages the NFL’s best 6.1 yards per offense. Browns 5.2. You would think the ravens would make the ball work harder. They rank 12th in the number of rush attempts (157). Here are the top three in the NFL: Eagles (225), Falcons (202) and Browns (198).

9. Baltimore’s Mark Andrews is a great darling. He has tormented Cleveland and other teams in the past. Browns fans know how stunned their team has been trying to close tight ends. He’s already caught five TD passes in six games.

PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTH

Jacoby Brissett needs to get back to the “completion mentality”. John Kuntz, cleveland.com

10. Coach Kevin Stefanski on Jacoby Brissett, who made two tackles in the loss to New England: “We can’t turn the ball. Jacoby knows this… Jacoby understands his role and his job is to make this offense. But in the end, we can’t turn it down. ”

11. More Stefanski: “You have to be explosive in the NFL. You have to find ways to make explosive passes and make explosive runs. They can come in a lot of different areas, different types of games. They can shoot from the middle of the court and they can shoot outside of the points (close to the sideline) … Jacoby has shown throughout his career and he can make those shots this season.”

12. I used both of Stefanski’s quotes to make a point: If the coach asks Brissett to shoot “explosive” shots, he’ll probably make interceptions. He is not a good passer when throws are quite difficult. That’s what Stefanski said at the New England game, and it didn’t work. The Browns made 45 passes that game. Stefanski argued that the Browns fell behind and led to all these transitions. But at halftime the score was 10-6 New England. Brissett had already made 17 passes, with the Browns running just 11 times. New England coach Bill Belichick convinced the Browns that they couldn’t run the ball and that they had to throw it—exactly what he wanted it to happen.

13. Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt on Brissett: “We’re going to go back to the finishing mentality going forward. I think when we play the best offense, when we get what’s there.”

14. That’s exactly what had to be done, and that’s what worked early in the season. Sometimes coaches overthink a game. Ok, the running game was struggling in the first half. Don’t give up on it. Same in Baltimore this Sunday. Play smart, but don’t overuse yourself.

15. How about this status? The Browns scored 48 points in the fourth quarter this season, and Baltimore had 22 points. One more thing I forgot until I looked at the 2021 standings: Both teams finished last season 8-9. And this season, both teams are playing close to the same level. This match is big because the gap will either be narrower or much wider until Sunday night.

MY GUESS: After losing to the Chargers, I swore never to pick the Browns again until I won another game. Baltimore 29, Browns 20. My record is 3-3.

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