Injuries Are Main Reason for Cleveland Browns Offensive Issues

Browns Injuries

They are 3-1, but their victories have not come easy. However, the Cleveland Browns offensive issues stem mainly from injuries, which may be the reason why head coach Kevin Stefanski has not seen any reason to panic just yet. If current injuries heal and new ones are minimal, the offense should be able to return to playing at a top-tier level.

Cleveland Browns Injuries the Main Reason for Offensive Struggles

Baker Mayfield Is Overcompensating for His Injury

Problems began the instant Baker Mayfield dislocated his shoulder. Despite popping it back with haste, everything changed. Mayfield began dumping short passes. As is human nature, he began overcompensating. His hesitancy in using his shoulder and arm meant that his weight transition and footwork became problematic. He was throwing off his back foot, which has caused him to sail passes in the past. Most will point out that Mayfield was already sailing passes against the Chicago Bears, before his injury against the Minnesota Vikings. But he still had some good throws in Week 3 and inconsistency was his only issue. Now with an injury, his performance has severely been affected and it’s painful to watch.

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Mayfield, with some healing, just needs to transition his weight effectively and correct his footwork. That way, he can get into a rhythm and be quicker on delivering passes. Running less will benefit him and the rest of the offense too.

Odell Beckham Jr. Is Still a Force

As Sports Illustrated’s Pete Smith says, Beckham’s “presence dramatically improves the spacing on the field… the offense is simply more dangerous with him in the lineup.” It seems obvious, yet it needs to be pointed out because of the misconception that his presence make’s Mayfield less effective. In 2020, Mayfield needed the first six games of the season to gel with the offense. It was something only he could fix, and he did. His improvement happened to coincide with the absence of Beckham due to this ACL injury. This year, opposing defenses are forced to come up with ways to counter a healthy Beckham. Clearly, the offense is more threatening when he is in the lineup.

Wyatt Teller Isn’t Quite Living up to Expectations

Jedrick Wills was playing on a bad ankle, and against the Vikings, he seemed to aggravate it. The hope is that Chris Hubbard will be healthy enough to step in while Wills rests. At the front of the offensive line, Wyatt Teller isn’t the high-level run blocker he was last season. His protection has always been questionable and there is no improvement yet. In 2020, the Browns running game thrived off Teller’s run blocking, resulting in overall success for the unit. While he was out with an injury, production and efficiency dropped significantly. It is partly up to offensive line coach Bill Callahan to guide Teller into a performance reminiscent of last season. Once this happens, there will likely be improvement across the line.

Certain Areas of Their Game Can Improve Once Everyone Is Healthy

Due to the injuries stacking up, the Browns have been throwing instead of challenging loaded boxes. By the goal line, Cleveland would have been confident to win at the line of scrimmage and generate yardage. This has not been the case. Additionally, Joel Bitonio and Jack Conklin are usually elite run blockers, but have been offering mediocre pass protection. If Conklin’s knee heals up, he should be able to bounce right back.

The offense is limited right now. It all starts with Mayfield and the team knows it. Stefanski is not panicking and it’s easy to see why. Mayfield has always taken some time to get into a good rhythm and it’s likely that once his shoulder heals, he can do it again. Ultimately, the offense can return to a high level of play.

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