Browns look to additional validate begin towards powerful Colts
CLEVELAND (AP) — Baker Mayfield is aware of all concerning the Browns’ tortured historical past over the previous twenty years. It has been jammed down his throat.
Virtually from the second he was drafted with the No. 1 general choose in 2018, Mayfield’s been advised concerning the growth period horror tales of botched drafts, devastating accidents, teaching errors, paralyzing dysfunction and dropping. A lot dropping.
Mayfield cannot take care of Cleveland’s painful previous. So why strive?
“I used to be not right here for all that,” he mentioned. “I used to be right here to vary it, and that’s what I’m doing.”
It is true. The Browns (3-1), three years faraway from an 0-16 season and house owners of the NFL’s present longest playoff drought, are off to their greatest begin since 2001. Flaunting a well-balanced, high-scoring offense and a ball-hawking protection, Cleveland is among the league’s early surprises in 2020 — to everybody, that’s, however the Browns.
“You have a look at the video games that we received, and it was not prefer it was a fluke,” mentioned star receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who had three touchdowns in final week’s win at Dallas.
Possibly not, OBJ. However the Browns’ three wins after being blown out of their opener at Baltimore have come towards groups with a mixed 3-8-1 document, which makes Sunday’s sport towards the Indianapolis Colts (3-1) a real take a look at of Cleveland’s legitimacy as a, dare we are saying it, playoff contender.
The identical case may very well be made for the Colts, who shook off a Week 1 loss to Jacksonville and have received three straight. However Indy’s schedule over the season’s first quarter was equally delicate, so Cleveland can be measuring stick — for now.
The matchup will function the NFL’s prime dashing crew (Cleveland averages 204.5 yards per sport) towards the league’s greatest general protection; the Colts lead in factors allowed, yards and interceptions.
“We’re enjoying as a unit. We’re enjoying good,” mentioned Indianapolis coach Frank Reich. “We’ve been good towards the run. It begins with stopping the run. That’s the reason this week goes to be such a problem, it is going to actually put that to the take a look at.”
It may need gotten a contact simpler because the Browns can be with out Professional Bowl operating again Nick Chubb, who sprained his proper knee in final week’s win at Dallas and may very well be sidelined for a month or extra.
Kareem Hunt will doubtless get most of Chubb’s carries as first-year Browns coach Kevin Stefanski is not anticipated to stray from a method that has been working.
“Nobody replaces Nick Chubb,” mentioned Browns guard Joel Bitonio. “The man is a stud. That one hurts seeing him go down for a little bit bit, however it’s the NFL and that type of stuff occurs, sadly.”
If there was a silver lining in Chubb’s damage, it is that the Browns performed most of final week with out him and thrived.
Hunt rushed for 71 yards and two TDs, and D’Ernest Johnson, who got here in with 5 profession carries, added 95 on 13 makes an attempt.
It figures to be a lot more durable sledding towards a Colts entrance anchored by deal with DeForest Buckner, proving to be price each penny of his $21 million per 12 months contract after coming over in a commerce from San Francisco.
“Recreation wrecker,” Reich mentioned. “He is like Myles Garrett, a pressure towards the run and the cross. His impression is felt on each play.”
OLD MAN RIVERS
Colts quarterback Philip Rivers can add two extra milestones to his resume this weekend.
Sunday’s begin would be the 38-year-old’s 229th in a row, tying him with Corridor of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews for the fourth-longest streak in league historical past.
And with 4 completions, Rivers would be the fifth NFL participant with 5,000 in his profession. Earlier this season, Rivers grew to become the sixth with 60,000 yards and 400 landing passes.
He solely tracks one stat.
“You at all times need to preserve bettering and getting higher and for those who’re profitable alongside the way in which, that’s a fairly good signal,” Rivers mentioned. “Discover a approach to win, do the issues essential to win, these are all good traits of a crew that’s obtained an opportunity to enhance and do one thing particular.”
WE’LL TAKE THAT
Cleveland’s protection, led by a rejuvenated Garrett, has pressured eight turnovers the previous two weeks and leads the league with 11 takeaways. Garrett has a strip sack in three straight video games, and coordinator Joe Woods mentioned he is on the lookout for each alternative to search out matchups for the speedy, sturdy finish.
“I really feel like if we are able to get him one on one, he has an opportunity to win each time,” Woods mentioned.
The Colts entered this season considering linebacker was one in every of their deepest positions. After 4 video games, it might be their thinnest.
Backup Matthew Adams went on injured reserve after hurting his ankle in Week 3. Final week, three extra linebackers had been injured: Darius Leonard (groin), Bobby Okereke (thumb) and E.J. Pace (elbow).
Reich hasn’t dominated out anybody apart from Adams, nevertheless it’s actually not superb when dealing with the league’s top-rated dashing offense. Leonard and Okereke missed apply time this week. Pace was restricted.
“We simply must get to them, get to them quick. Don’t let the operating again begin up,” cornerback Xavier Rhodes mentioned. “As soon as they contact the ball, now we have to get to them as quick as attainable as a result of they’ve some nice runners, some exhausting runners.”
AP Sports activities Author Michael Marot contributed to this report.
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