Most teams in the position the Browns are in would try to sell that they see brighter days ahead, that they’re winless but not hopeless. After last weekend’s 33-16 loss in London to the Vikings, coach Hue Jack
son said the Browns have to play a perfect game to have a chance to win.
Nobody questioned that statement, but a perfect game just is not possible. And based on the first half of the season, a lone win might not be possible. A season after going 1-15, they added talent to the roster but have regressed. Rookie QB DeShone Kiz
er has struggled with interceptions and other growing pains, and the Browns have been sunk by penalties, missed opportunities and big plays by opponents.
No. 1 overall draft pick Myles Garrett, a defensive lineman, has shown flashes of brilliance, but he was in the NFL concussion protocol as the team began its bye week. Garrett also missed four games with a high ankle sprain, and the Browns played last weekend without four other defensive regulars because of injuries. The league’s youngest team doesn’t have the experience or depth to overcome such losses. Likely future Hall of Fame LT Joe
Thomas was lost in Week 7 to a torn triceps, leaving another hole on an offensive line that’s still trying to jell and allow RB
Isaiah Crowell consistent lanes. Crowell is running for a contract and to alleviate pressure from Kizer, who’s been twice yanked from games for poor decisions.
The Browns are a mess, and there figure to be some difficult decisions ahead if this team can’t grow up fast. Player to watch: Garrett. He has four sacks in three games but needs more experience to refine his game and ultimately reach his true potential. Assuming Garrett
is cleared to return, he needs to focus on the opportunity to develop the rest of the season, gain confidence and prove to himself he can handle a full workload without getting injured.
Number crunching: 40. Headed into last weekend’s game, the Browns had allowed either no yards or negative yards rushing on 40% of their opponents’ rushing attempts. That’s a huge leap for a team that’s long struggled against the run, though the Browns are still giving up too many big plays in the passing game.
Up next: Nov. 12 at Detroit. It’s tough to see the Browns winning a game before mid-December, if at all. They will be fresh and make a short trip to Detroit. But given the state of the offense, it will be hard to win on the road against a Lions team that’s fighting to get back to the postseason.
Browns’ Myles Garrett KEN BLAZE, USA TODAY SPORTS