3 Ways the Browns Can Get Baker Mayfield Back on Track
One week after the Browns offense could do no wrong against the Cincinnati Bengals, it looked like it could not do anything right versus the Patriots.
Such has been life for the Cleveland offense over the last four games. The Browns have alternated a win and a loss each week in that span.
Cleveland enters Week 11 at 5-5 at the bottom of the AFC North and in 11th place in the AFC standings.
The Browns are by no means out of the playoff race yet, but they need to be more consistent, especially in the passing game, to regain some of the buzz that followed their 3-1 start.
Play the Lions
The best possible get-right game is in front of the Browns in Week 11.
The Detroit Lions are 0-8-1, and they were the beneficiary of Pittsburgh's last-minute quarterback change in Week 10. Mason Rudolph was named the starter less than 24 hours before kickoff after Ben Roethlisberger tested positive for COVID-19.
Detroit conceded over 250 passing yards in five of its nine games, and it allowed four opponents to score more than 30 points.
Mayfield should be chomping at the bit to get on the field on Sunday to gain some confidence heading into the stretch run of the regular season.
Mayfield has not been horrible of late. He has three multi-touchdown performances in his last five games, but the team's inconsistent results have not helped his stat lines.
If Mayfield and Co. run all over the Lions, like they are expected to do, they would gain a ton of confidence going into a tough three-week run in which they play the Baltimore Ravens on both sides of the Week 13 bye.
Get Jarvis Landry More Involved
Sunday's matchup with Detroit should allow Mayfield and Jarvis Landry to connect on a more frequent basis.
Landry has been targeted on five occasions in each of the last two games, but he only has seven receptions and 37 yards to show for it.
With Odell Beckham Jr. out of the picture, Landry is Cleveland's No. 1 wide receiver, and he needs to find more ways to get open to help Mayfield.
Prior to his two-week slump, Landry produced five catches on 10 targets in the Week 8 loss to the Steelers.
Mayfield should look for Landry on all types of throws to get him more involved. Landry can be useful on short throws, in third-down situations and on long balls as well.
Cleveland's offensive staff could try to get Landry more involved in the deep passing game since opponents will key in on the speed of Donovan Peoples-Jones and Anthony Schwartz on plays that could go for 20 yards or longer.
If Landry plays a larger role in the offense, it could also open up space for other wide receivers, or the trio of tight ends, because he would occupy the top defender from every opponent.
Make More Use of Tight End Trio
Cleveland has arguably the deepest tight end depth in the NFL.
David Njoku is the team's receiving yard leader, Austin Hooper has two touchdown catches and Harrison Bryant brought in 13 of his 18 targets this season.
Njoku, Hooper and Bryant are Mayfield's main targets in the red zone because of their size, but they need to be utilized more in other areas of the field.
Njoku is the most athletic pass-catcher of the three, while Hooper and Bryant are better in physical one-on-one situations that could help gain 10 or 15 yards in the middle of the field.
If Landry receives extra coverage, Mayfield could turn to Peoples-Jones, Schwartz or Rashard Higgins to pick up yardage, but none of them have the physicality that the tight ends have to attack the middle on a constant basis.
Mayfield can open up defenses with long balls to those wide receivers, but he needs to establish a consistent short passing game with his tight ends.
It is imperative that Mayfield gets more work in with his tight ends against Detroit because the two matchups with Baltimore could favor Cleveland's offense.
Baltimore has given up the third-most receiving yards and six total touchdowns to tight ends. If the Browns exploit that flaw, they could gain a stronghold in the AFC North race.
Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference.