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The coach changed. Everything else with the Cleveland Browns stayed the same.Unable to slow Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City's thrill-a-minute offense Youth Kasen Williams Jersey , the Browns were soundly beaten ó and beaten up ó in a 37-21 loss on Sunday in Cleveland's first game under interim coach Gregg Williams.Mahomes threw two touchdown passes to Cleveland native Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt, another local kid who drove past FirstEnergy Stadium almost every day, scored three TDs as the Chiefs (8-1) overpowered the banged-up Browns (2-6-1) while sending them to their fourth straight loss.It doesn't figure to get better anytime soon for Cleveland, which had three more defensive starters get injured.The pain isn't going away."We have to keep going ó next man up," defensive end Myles Garrett said. "We have to do the best with what we have."The loss ended another tumultuous few days for the Browns, whose promising 2-2-1 start has dissolved into more disarray.Still, rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield managed to extract some positives. He passed for 297 yards and two touchdowns."Offensively, I think there was a lot more good in this game than we had in the past," said Mayfield, who twice connected with running back Duke Johnson on scores. "There is a lot to build on, but there is obviously so much more room for improvement. When you are playing a team like that, you have to stay in the game."You have to give yourself chances. You have to do the little things right. You have to chip away, take time off of the clock just because of the offense that they have. There was a lot of good on offense, but we just have to keep getting better."Cleveland's hopes of staying with the Chiefs took a major hit when defensive backs Damarious Randall (groin), E.J. Gaines (concussion) and Denzel Ward (hip) were sidelined by injuries. Randall was scratched before the kickoff, and after Gaines and Ward went down in the first quarter, linebacker Christian Kirksey (hamstring) got hurt.Stopping the Chiefs with a full roster is tough.Short-handed, it's impossible.The Browns were already missing Pro Bowl linebacker Joe Schobert Kasen Williams Jersey Stitched , who sat out his third game in a row with a hamstring injury."The biggest thing that really affected us was that we lost two of our starting corners in the first drive," cornerback T.J. Carrie said. "That definitely put us in a different situation. We practice with those guys throughout the week, and when those guys go down, it changes the game plan. They are a high-powered offense, and I don't think we did a good job at all stopping their momentum."The injuries put more pressure on Williams, who did not relinquish his duties as defensive coordinator after being asked to replace Hue Jackson, who was fired on Monday along with offensive coordinator Todd Haley.The Browns may have been outmanned by the more talented Chiefs, but Williams liked how his players fought through a week full of adversity."I never saw any flinch," he said. "Never saw a flinch today. Never saw body language poor today. You have to build on that. This is the National Football League. There are no excuses. You have to continue to get better. You have to. We all have to."Williams set an early tone for his shell-shocked team with a fourth-down gamble on Cleveland's first possession. The Browns converted then, but Williams' choice to go for a 2-point conversion in the second quarter resulted in the Browns chasing points all afternoon.Cleveland went 0 for 3 on conversion tries.Following the game, Mayfield and Mahomes met at mid-field and shared a hug and some words of encouragement. They've been friends for years, college rivals and part of the NFL's next wave of young quarterbacks.While Mahomes appears to have it all ó more talented teammates, a stable franchise ó right now, Mayfield doesn't think the Browns have to try to replicate Kansas City's offense."What we do is perfectly fine," he said. "We just have to be better at it. They have guys who are making their plays. Their quarterback is putting it in the right spot. He is giving them a chance to win. We just have to be better. We are not going to abandon ship with what we are doing and try to do the Chiefs offense. We just have to trust our guys, trust our playmakers and do our job." Plus a bonus lesson"A few days ago, Pro Football Focus released their list of the top 101 players of the 2018 NFL season. Four Browns made the list: 55. Myles Garrett, 75. Baker Mayfield Youth James Burgess Jersey , 82. Joel Bitonio, and 89. Denzel Ward. As I was reading the list, a few patterns started to emerge with regard to team composition. Especially considering the Browns finally have a quarterback, here are a few things I think the team should take note of:1. It typically takes an elite talent to thrive as a receiver without a great QB.Here is the list of wide receivers who made the list without their QB also being on it, their PFF list ranking, and their draft slot:26. Julio Jones: 6th overall. Heís a dominant receiver but plays with a guy who is capable of making this list in a given year.30. Adam Thielen: Undrafted. He had a great season. He also plays with a QB who is guaranteed $84 million, finished 7th in the league in targets and had an ďinsaneĒ target share this season, so he produced when given the opportunity but he had a lot of opportunity. 36. Odell Beckham Jr.: 12th overall. Eli Manning certainly wasnít great this year, and Beckham is an elite talent.56. Mike Evans: 7th overall. He saw a lot of success despite ups and downs from the QB position in Tampa.63. Tyler Boyd: 55th overall. He was a bright spot on a Cincinnati team that was frankly pretty bad. Part of me wonders how much production he had in two garbage time second halves where the Cleveland Browns had already won the game by halftime, but thatís probably just me trolling.65. Juju Smith-Schuster: 62nd overall. He plays with a future hall of fame QB who probably makes this list in most years, and was the 4th most targeted receiver in the league.Average PFF rank: 46Some of these guys (Beckham, Jones, Evans) were simply elite draft prospects who are and have been crazy talents. Others (Thielen, Boyd) seem to have been diamonds in the rough who didnít need elite physical tools or an elite QB to succeed. But when you take a step back and analyze this pool of guys, it sure seems like you need to spend a high draft pick in order to find elite production at WR without an elite QB. The average draft position of these players is 65th overall, and there are only three guys in the entire league who were picked outside of the first round and made this list without their QB also making it.Lets compare that to...2. You probably donít need elite receiving talent if you have a great QB.Here is the list of wide receivers who made this list with their QB also making it, their PFF ranking, and their draft slot:2. DeAndre Hopkins James Burgess Jersey Stitched , 27th overall6. Michael Thomas, 47th overall25. Tyreek Hill: 165th overall33. Keenan Allen: 76th overall48. Davante Adams: 53rd overall49. Robert Woods: 41st overall59. TY Hilton: 92nd overall84. Tyler Lockett: 69th overallAverage PFF rank: 38.25Iím not saying the guys on this list arenít good, they clearly are*.*Iíve been irrationally convinced of Mike Thomasí talent since he put up approximately a billion yards in an Ohio State spring game and went on to never reach 800 yards receiving in a season for the Buckeyes.But these guys who are able to perform at an elite level with an elite QB are not as highly coveted in the draft and are 8 spots better in the PFF rankings on average. There is only one first round pick on this list (Hopkins), and draft experts were already enamored with his former Clemson teammate Sammy Watkins when he was available. The average draft position of the guys on this list is 71st overall, which is only 6 spots lower than the list above. But from a volume standpoint significantly more of these guys (7 of 8) were found outside of the first round. And without the outlier (Thielen), the group who performed without an elite QB was drafted an average of 44th overall.3. We should question our assumptions about game-breaking TEs:Unlike wide receivers, there werenít a lot of patterns with the tight end group. And frankly, there werenít a lot of tight ends, period.13. George Kittle: 146th overall. He plays in a great offense that targeted him a lot but had an elite season with non-elite QB play any way you slice it.91. Zach Ertz: 35th overall. He seems to play well with Wentz or Foles at QB.23. Travis Kelce: 63rd overall. He played with Patrick Mahomes who, ya know, kinda had a good season.None of these guys were drafted particularly high, though Ertz almost made it into the first round. But it is tough to draw conclusions from a sample size of 3. Instead, Iíd focus on the fact that the sample size is so small in the first place.Are defenses catching up with the athletic tight end? Are offenses moving away from tight ends and putting more receivers and/or pass-catching backs on the field? Are there just very few guys on the planet earth who are big enough to block effectively while being fast enough to serve as elite receiving threats? Whatever the cause, it seems smart to build your offense without relying on dominant TE play; elite TEs arenít easy to find.4. Sometimes defensive talent needs time to matureSome of the defensive players on the list like 1. Aaron Donald or (so far) 76. Darius Leonard have walked into the NFL as legit star players. But many of the defensive players seemingly took a few years to develop. By my subjective and rough estimation, here are some of them:5. Fletcher Cox. Despite being a first round pick, he put up an AV of 4 his first year and 8 his second, the same average AV as Danny Sheltonís first two years. Heís since become one of the most dominant linemen in football.9. Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore was not bad in Buffalo, but never eclipsed an AV of 6 in his first four years. He was incredible in New England this year Youth Kevin Zeitler Jersey , shadowing the other teamís best WR more than anyone else in the league and playing well as he did it.11. Akiem Hicks. Hicks has bounced around to three teams in his 7 year career. He never put up more than 4.5 sacks in a year until landing with the Bears in 2016, where heís blossomed.15. Chris Jones. Jones more than doubled his career highs in sacks/year and QB hits/year in 2018. 17. Grady Jarrett. PFF ranked Jarrett very highly, while other metrics donít favor him as much. But Jarrett has put up better numbers every year of his 4 year career, racking up more sacks and QB hits each year. 20. Jamal Adams. In his second season, Adams appears to be on a trajectory to live up to his draft billing. He saw an increase in INTs, Passes defensed, forced fumbles, sacks, tackles, and QB hits in year 2.24. Calais Campbell. Campbell has spent 11 years in the NFL, and heís almost been a different player in the second half of his career. He was active for all 16 games as a rookie, but put up an AV of 1 (thatís equivalent to Johnny Manzielís rookie year if you are wondering). He seemed to be average-ish for the next 5 years, but has been really good for the 5 after that.Again, this is one personís subjective analysis, but these are 7 of the first 25 players on PFFís list. It is littered with guys who didnít light the world on fire in their rookie seasons but went on to become some of the better defenders in the NFL. Donít believe me? Check the list out for yourself. When it comes to defensive talent at least, it seems like patience is necessary.What do you think?Is there anything else that jumped out at you from this list? As the Browns enter the offseason, what should they be keeping in mind about team composition? Letís discuss in the comments below.



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Wed Sep 18, 2019 5:28 pm