The Cleveland Browns sit at 4-2, in the hunt to break an 18-year playoff drought, the longest current famine in the NFL.
Despite the positives that got the Browns to a winning record for the first time since 2014, dark clouds continue to hover over Cleveland after a Week 6 38-7 beatdown by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Yeah, I’d say the feeling throughout the building after that loss, 4-2 has never felt so much like 0-6 before,” quarterback Baker Mayfield said Wednesday, via The Cleveland Plain Dealer. “That’s because we have very high expectations for ourselves. We’re eager to get back to work and to get out there and fix the problems that we know are within our own control.”
Sure, the Browns might now be good enough to beat the bottom dwellers of the NFL, but against good teams, like division rivals Baltimore and Pittsburgh, they get blown out of the water.
“I’m pissed,” star receiver Odell Beckham told reporters Wednesday. “And at this point, I don’t really care to keep trying to make myself look like a good guy to the world and all that (expletive). … Tired of losing. Tired of losing to good teams.”
The Browns have played three opponents with a winning record, Baltimore, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. They’re 1-2 in those games, getting blown out in each loss. The three other victories came against teams with a combined record of 4-13-1 (Cincinnati, Washington, Dallas).
Despite a winning record, the Browns have a -24-point differential, 23rd in the NFL. For comparison, that puts them between the 1-4 L.A. Chargers (-15 point differential) and the 1-4-1 Bengals (-28). The Browns are the ninth team in NFL history with a win percent above .500 and a point differential of -24 or worse through the first six games of a season.
Mayfield, who was dealing with a rib injury, played poorly versus Pittsburgh, taking four sacks, throwing two ghastly picks, and generating just 119 yards with one TD before being benched for the final period of the blowout.
“I have to have a short memory playing quarterback,” he said. “That’s for the good and the bad but especially the bad. Getting back to the basics, finding completions. It’s tough when you’re in a momentum swing like that to get back on track, but at this position, you have to be able to do that. It is about finding completions and getting back to basics.”
The Browns have the talent to compete in the AFC if they get better play from the QB position.
The fact that Cleveland is disappointed while sitting at 4-2 is a good sign that perhaps the same old issues that have plagued the organization won’t continue to haunt. The expectations are raised. Now the quarterback must meet them.