The Cleveland Browns’ 2-6 record ranks them second to last in the AFC North. Recently, on Sunday, the Browns faced the Arizona Cardinals which resulted in a 34-20 loss. The game revealed a key factor that hinders the Browns from having success: the lack of consistency in team performance.
The lack of consistency stems from the injuries the Browns have sustained on offense and defense. Quarterback Josh McCown has had multiple injuries that have led to him sitting out for short periods of time on multiple occasions.
Then there is Joe Haden, a Pro Bowl cornerback, who has been inactive for four of the nine games due to various injuries. Haden is an important player for the Browns’ defensive secondary. The former Florida Gator brings experience and leadership that the other cornerbacks can follow.
However, Haden’s season has been a tumultuous trainwreck. He’s been torched by opposing receivers often — most recently Arizona’s Michael Floyd, who dusted Haden for a 60-yard score.
The Browns started the game strong forcing two fumbles, which they used to rack up two scores. The Cardinals receiving corps had only one touchdown in the first half, as the Browns secondary kept scores to a minimum. Until after halftime, that is, when the Browns defense lost two important players due to concussions, Haden and safety Donte Whitner.
Shortly after their departures, the Cardinals found offensive matchups that led to 27 unanswered points. The Cardinals offense was successful in large because of the two injured Browns players. The result of the game would have been different if it weren’t for the Browns’ sudden injuries and inconsistency on both sides of the ball.
Offensively, McCown is too inconsistent for the Browns to win. The Cardinal defense shut Cleveland’s offense down completely. The Browns didn’t score at all during the second half, leaving the defense to struggle further. The inconsistent play has been the deciding factor in the previous losses, as well.
Haden’s and Whitner’s presences are essential for the Browns to have long-term success. Those two players bring consistency to the Browns defense. Red-hot starts followed by ice-cold finishes are filled the Browns season. Unfortunately, that won’t get the job done in the AFC North. Until Cleveland finds its missing consistency, losing seasons will remain the norm.