3 Takeaways from Browns' Week 3 Win
The Cleveland Browns' offense got off to a bit of a slow start on Sunday afternoon. That was never going to be an issue thanks to how their defense fared.
The Browns completely shut down the Chicago Bears and pulled away late for a 26-6 win at FirstEnergy Stadium. Cleveland improved to 2-1, as it's won two straight games after dropping its season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. It was coming off a Week 2 win over the Houston Texans.
Entering the fourth quarter, the Browns led by only seven points. However, they ended the game by scoring 13 unanswered points, as Chase McLaughlin made two of his four field goals in the final 10 minutes, 40 seconds. Cleveland took the lead on Baker Mayfield's 13-yard touchdown pass to Austin Hooper 13 seconds before halftime and led the rest of the way.
Here are three takeaways from the Browns' Week 3 win.
Garrett, Defense Show How Dominant They Can Be
Sunday was a display of how strong the Browns' defense can be when the unit is playing to its full potential. Sure, they were taking on a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start (the Bears' Justin Fields), but it was an impressive performance, nonetheless.
Cleveland held Chicago to 47 total yards and six first downs. The Bears only had the ball for 20 minutes, 26 seconds, and Fields completed only six of his 20 passing attempts. The Browns recorded nine sacks, including a franchise-record 4.5 from Myles Garrett, as they also had 15 quarterback hits and seven pass deflections.
"It's awesome seeing everybody getting off and making big plays," Garrett said, per Tom Withers of the Associated Press. "It's just like when you are in high school, everybody is balling and you feel like you can make a play at any time and you feel like you're the star."
Over the next few weeks, Cleveland's defense is going to be tested. Its next three opponents are the Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Chargers and Arizona Cardinals, and all of those teams have strong offenses.
But the Browns enter that stretch with a ton of defensive momentum, so maybe this will be a performance they can build off of moving forward.
Hunt, Chubb Again Among Top RB Duos in League
Last year, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt proved there were enough touches to go around in the Browns' offense for them both to have success. And they emerged as one of the top running back duos in the league. That again is the case so far in 2021.
On Sunday, Chubb led the way on the ground with 22 carries for 84 yards. It wasn't his most effective performance, but it was still a solid showing. Meanwhile, Hunt had 10 carries for 81 yards and a touchdown, as well as six receptions for 74 yards.
Because Cleveland has two strong running backs, it can keep both fresh and make things even more difficult on opposing defenses. In this game, it was Hunt who had the hot hand.
"I think just the look in his eye, everybody could tell the way he was running," Mayfield said, per Dan Labbe of Cleveland.com. "It seemed angry—angrier than usual. When that happens, just find a way to get him the ball."
Maybe Hunt will be that way again next week. Or it could be Chubb who has the bigger day. Either way, the Browns' rushing attack will continue to be tough to stop.
Beckham Impresses in His First Game of Season
After missing the first two games of the season while still recovering from the ACL tear he suffered last season, Odell Beckham Jr. made his 2021 debut for the Browns on Sunday. And it didn't take long for him to make an impact on Cleveland's offense.
Beckham led the Browns with 77 receiving yards on five catches as he immediately returned to being Mayfield's No. 1 option in the passing game, getting targeted a team-high nine times. Not bad considering he hadn't played in a game since Week 7 of the 2020 season.
"I came out and tried not to go crazy in warmup or anything. Just get my legs underneath me," Beckham said, per Withers. "I got to the game, and I swear I just felt like each play I could not get them underneath me. A lot of things to look at the film and improve on, and that is all we can do."
It's an encouraging sign for the Browns that Beckham may still be getting comfortable. Because once he reaches that point, he could return to being the elite playmaker that he's been at times in the past.