Week 2 Browns vs. Steelers – Post-Game Summary Report and Game Balls With Andy B. and Tony C.

September 20, 2023

Andy Billman Tony Camino

A look back at the Browns loss on Monday Night to the Steelers 26-22

1 – Without Nick Chubb, can Deshaun Watson lead the offense to be successful?


This is the million-dollar question, and without Nick Chubb, the pressure on Deshaun Watson will only go up from here on out in 2023. Add Head Coach Kevin Stefanski to the pressure of needing good offensive play.

After Monday Night’s disaster play from Watson, it is starting to become a national narrative of the current struggles for Watson. The talent is there, but he has yet to show clear and direct proof that he can play above an average quarterback in Cleveland. It has been eight games; the light has to come on at some point, right?

Back to the question, I hate to say it, but I don’t believe he can do it currently. I believe Watson can assist the offense to be successful, but right now, there’s no way he can lead it unless he has a total transformation. I do not see consistency to say he can lead this team and or lift this team offensively.  He is going to need help Stefanski is going to have to help. They must allow WR Elijah Moore to get out in the open field and make plays. They must get better offensive tackle play from Jed Wills, who looked terrible against the Steelers.

Back to Stefanski, he has to work with Watson to take away any stress. His job has become a lot more challenging, and dare I say it, almost like what it was before with Baker Mayfield at times. He must get creative to ensure Watson looks more comfortable and thrives on Sundays.  Stefanski and Watson are officially joined at the hip, so if you believe that Watson can lead, you also believe that Stefanski is an excellent offensive coach. This is about more than just calling plays. He must coach Watson, gulp.


The answer, in short, is yes, but we need to see more consistency. The offense as a whole needs to improve in multiple aspects, including the offensive line, ball security, and the quarterback’s performance. In the Steelers game, there were several good throws and reads, and there could have been even more completions on multiple occasions.

Something always seemed to go wrong, whether it was a missed assignment in pass protection, an inaccurate throw, or a bobbled ball. Monday night’s failure can be attributed to everyone on the offensive side. While Watson didn’t have a good game, he did make some significant throws that went unnoticed. Several times, the offense found itself backed up in their own end zone on third down, and Watson made good decisions and throws to convert and save field position.

The loss of Nick Chubb is likely to have a significant impact on the offense. Chubb excels at running downhill and often forces the Browns to operate from under center. Watson has been more accustomed to spread offenses in the past, and it appears that the offense will shift towards an air raid style. The Pittsburgh defense did a commendable job sending complex blitz packages to confuse the offense, which won’t be a weekly occurrence. Quarterback play around the league has had a slow start, but I have faith that the offense can improve its passing attack as the week progresses.

2 – Do the Browns have a weakness at offensive tackle? 


Monday was definitely not the best showing for Jedrick Wills, as he was the one who was beaten badly on the strip sack that ultimately cost the game. Dawand Jones held up quite well against TJ Watt but still had several moments where he appeared lost in the run game. Wills hasn’t shown enough promise in his tape, and the start of 2023 has been challenging for him. His performance seems to have declined every season, and the Browns really need him to protect Watson’s blindside.

Watson not feeling comfortable going through progressions due to his lack of confidence in his blindside can result in many errors in quarterback play. Wills did not face an incredibly difficult matchup on Monday, and yet his performance was subpar. In the upcoming matchups against the Titans, Ravens, and 49ers, Wills must step up against talented defensive fronts for the offense to succeed.


The Browns sadly do in OT Jedrick Wills. I like OT Dawand Jones, and he will grow in 2023, but Wills really worries me. The Browns will have to put help around Jones to be successful, which is the norm for any young rookie, which means Wills has to do more on his own. And that is not comforting. Wills looked bad and overmatched against the Steelers, and there have been growing concerns about his play in 2022. So, to have a rookie right tackle and a left tackle who has yet to develop to his full potential is scary. The Browns will have to get creative on what to do with Wills. They may need a backup plan for 2023 at left tackle.

3 – Thoughts on the Browns bringing back Kareem Hunt? 


Like most fans and journalists, I agree that this move makes a lot of sense. The hometown Kareem Hunt coming back to play in place of his good friend Nick Chubb is a great story and Hunt being familiar with the offense is a good thing for everybody in Berea. I also believe that Hunt will play above expectations early on wanting to win for Chubb and the city of Cleveland.

Here’s my other note on the running back situation.  It is time to see more of WR Elijah Moore in the backfield.  In the preseason game against Washington, Moore was excellent in the role of being used all over the field.  I believe he can help with the loss of Chubb and create huge chunks on offense.


The overall feelings about the signing are quite neutral, but it becomes slightly better knowing it’s a familiar face who embraces the city. From a performance standpoint, Kareem Hunt lacked explosiveness and efficiency in 2022, ranking near the bottom in rushing yards over expected among those with 90 attempts. The biggest upside with Hunt is his experience in the system, along with his ability in pass protection and as a receiver. Jerome Ford remains the early-down back, but having Hunt for third-down pass protection is much better than having Harrison Bryant out there, as we saw on Monday.

This isn’t a signing that’s going to transform the outlook of the season, as it ultimately depends on Watson and the offense as a whole to ignite the passing game. I like the idea of bringing in a familiar face who’s a good veteran presence in the locker room, but nobody can replace Nick Chubb.

4 – Even in a loss, the defense was impressive. How good is the defense?


Through two games, the Browns rank second in EPA/play, trailing only the Dallas Cowboys, who have faced the Giants and Jets. While the sample size is small, the defense has come through on numerous occasions in these first two games, even when their backs were against the wall. The pass rush trio has disrupted quarterbacks’ lives, the interior linemen have been mostly stout against the run, and the secondary is performing at a very high level.

The confidence and swag that Jim Schwartz has instilled in these players are evident on every snap, and this unit is likely to improve as the year goes on. This defense has the potential to be a top-five unit in the NFL, and they will likely keep the Browns competitive in most games.


This is one of the best defense units I have ever seen play in Cleveland, even better than the 1980’s and the 1990’s with Belichick, this 2023 unit is the best I have seen.  They have made one grave error in the touchdown pass from Kenny Pickett to George Pickens, outside of that it has been stellar.  They even against Pittsburgh shut down the run.  The Steelers were unable to make it past midfield in the second half. Take a bow defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.  


Nick Chubb

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

If you're a fan of Cleveland sports and want to stay up-to-date with the latest news, scores, and insights on your favorite teams, signing up for the Cleveland sports newsletter is a no-brainer.

Copyright © 2024 Believe In The Land

threads icon