The Cleveland Browns have had a number of issues throughout the 2021 NFL season. Very little has gone smoothly for the team on a week-to-week basis outside of their rushing attack. Even that was slowed down in Week 8 by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The defense has been suspect at all levels at different times outside of Myles Garrett. Injuries have played an obvious role in some of the issues but, even when mostly healthy, the defense hasn’t come together well. With the majority of the expected starters new to the team this year, hopefully, time will allow that to change.
It was the offense that was expected to lead the team while the defense got it together. The continuity of Baker Mayfield and Kevin Stefanski’s system was the foundation for much of the hope going into the season. With all starters returning, the team expected to build off the quality play in the second half of 2020.
So far, the offense has faltered.
It is far too easy to place the blame on one thing. Odell Beckham Jr. will no longer be with the team but he was far from the only issue. Mayfield’s shoulder may get stronger but he will need surgery and still needs to be better at things unrelated to the injury. Stefanski’s play-calling and decision-making have left a lot to be desired especially on fourth downs.
As noted with the defense, injuries have also played a role for the offense. Jack Conklin and Kareem Hunt will likely miss a few more games keeping the offense from hitting their stride.
One of the biggest issues for the team has been inside the red zone. Whether the team gets healthy or not, that problem has to change. The problem isn’t limited to Mayfield and the passing attack as the success of the run game doesn’t match its overall success.
(All data, unless otherwise noted, from Pro Football Reference.)