Two weeks later, Cleveland’s once-promising season already feels shaky. The Browns lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 26-22. But most importantly, they lost their best offensive player, the All-Pro running back. Nick Chubto a “major” injury to his left knee in the second quarter.
Chubb, at wide receiver Amari Cooper In other words, he was the engine of Cleveland’s offense; Other teammates called Chubb the heart and soul of the organization. They were torn off when they had to carry him off the field after a Minkah Fitzpatrick It hit near the Steelers’ goal line. On Monday night, coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed that Chubb will miss the remainder of the season.
Injuries are part of football. Injuries can be overcome. But for the Browns to have any hope of overcoming this, they’ll need their $230 million quarterback to start living up to his contract.
That could still happen. There is simply nothing to suggest that is the case.
In his eighth game with the Browns, Watson struggled mightily when Cleveland needed him most. He threw a pick-six to the Steelers linebacker Alex Highsmith on the first play of the game. In the fourth quarter, he held onto the ball when Highsmith crashed in from his blindside to fumble the ball, allowing him TJ Watts to scoop up the loose ball and run for what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown.
Watson finished 22 of 40 for 235 yards and one interception. He was sacked six times and posted a total QBR of 16.5.
difficult ending Harrison Bryant He should have made the pass on the initial play. But like many of Watson’s passes since he returned from last year’s 11-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy after more than two dozen women accused him of sexual assault and sexual misconduct, the shot was deflected. left tackle Jedrick Wills He should have put his hands in Highsmith’s way. But like many of Watson’s dropbacks, he held on to the ball, leading to a negative play.
The Browns still had a chance for a winning drive. But Watson’s fourth-down pass, like so many others, went out of bounds.
“I’m still moving forward,” Watson said, when asked how he thought he played in the loss. “I feel like tonight was shit. We capitalized on some plays and did them well. But for my part, it’s not good enough. That’s up to me. I have to give [Bryant] a better ball. The forced fumble for a touchdown for them, you can say this guy [Wills] I can do this, but I have to protect the ball.
“You’re not going to put it on anyone else, you’re going to put it on me. I can take it whole. I can accept criticism. And I’m going to do that.”
With Chubb out, it’s all up to Watson now.
And the Browns can’t wait any longer for it to arrive.
Through two games, Watson has missed (tackles or underthrows) more than any other quarterback in the league with a 27.6% miss rate. That’s worse than newbies. Antonio Richardson (21.7%) and young bryce (21.9%). That’s also worse than Pittsburgh. Kenny Pickett (22.2%) and far from New York Jets‘ zack wilson (14.0%).
Watson’s QBR is 30th (29.3), only ahead of Chicago’s Justin Fields (22.2) and Pickett (18.8).
In the last eight games dating back to Watson’s return in Week 13 of last season, Watson ranks second to last in EPA (expected points added) per dropback (-21.5), ahead of only Fields.
On Monday night, Stefanski refused to directly criticize Watson and placed the blame on himself and the entire offense.
“There were some throws that he wants to get back and there are some plays that I want to get back,” he said, when asked how Watson played. “Really, he’s just not good enough as a team.”
The Browns defense, however, was good enough for Cleveland to beat Pittsburgh. Cooper, who played through a groin injury and still made a series of tough catches, was good enough. Chubb was more than good enough (64 yards on 10 carries) before the injury.
Watson, who has yet to play a game at the level of a franchise quarterback, was nowhere near good enough.
And without Chubb, him being good won’t be enough for the Browns to remain a legitimate contender in the AFC North.
Watson said he addressed the team after the loss and told them he would “do better.”
Anything less, and another Browns season will slowly fade away.