Week 4 Browns vs. Ravens: Post-Game Summary Report and Game Balls With Andy B. and Tony C.

October 5, 2023

Andy Billman Tony Camino

Browns Reflections: A look back at the Browns loss to the Ravens 28-3

1 – What to make of Deshaun Watson not playing on Sunday against the Ravens? 


That was a very odd process of how QB Deshaun Watson went from having reports come out on Friday afternoon that he was definitely playing against the Ravens, and then out of thin air, he is out by late Sunday morning. 

The answers by the Browns have also been very curious about what really happened.  Coach Kevin Stefanski has repeatedly mentioned that he was cleared to play, but it was Watson’s call, and he said he couldn’t go.  Reports during the game from CBS said an MRI revealed that Watson had a more severe injury than first reported.  GM Andrew Berry said, “It became obvious to all of us that he (Watson) couldn’t throw or drive the bell well enough to perform in the game.”  Watson was very sure leading up to the week that he was going to be able to play.

I think Berry made the most sense of what transpired with the decision of sitting Watson, and of course, it is the right decision not to play Watson if he’s not physically ready.  That said, it was weird how the Browns communicated his injury throughout the week, on Sunday, and after the loss.  Stefanski’s explanation of what happened puts it all on Watson’s decision which is weird.  It has created some weird vibes for the fans, and the players on the field did not play well on Sunday.

Just so exhausting, ugh. 


Football is a long season and a brutal game. Not too long ago, the entire fan base, myself included, was infuriated with Baker Mayfield playing through an obvious injury that went on to cost the team the season. Deshaun Watson is a long-term investment, and he clearly wasn’t good to go on Sunday, based on the opinions of himself, Kevin Stefanski, and Andrew Berry. There is zero reason to risk further injury in a Week Four game that doesn’t mean as much as people make it out to be.

With the bye week this week, it made complete sense to give him the game off if he wasn’t himself so he didn’t hurt the team or himself even more. Just take a look at what’s happening in Cincinnati; they debated holding Joe Burrow out to start the year but ended up letting him play from Week One. He’s clearly not right, and it has altered the Bengals’ offense to be a quick-pass game to avoid taking hits or scrambling. The Bengals are 1-3 with him fighting through injury, and he still isn’t close to 100%.

Even if Watson had played on Sunday, the Browns would likely have lost because he clearly isn’t right. There isn’t a reason to risk health for the rest of the season in a Week Four tiebreaker game. While fans like to act like the sky is falling after every loss, the Browns are in a very good situation in the AFC playoff race. There are maybe nine legitimate contenders for the postseason, and that’s if you count the Steelers and Bengals. If Watson doesn’t miss much more time, this is a team that should be playoff-bound regardless of whether they win the division.

2 – Who’s to blame for the offensive performance: Coach Stefanski?  DTR?  Teammates?  All of the above?


In football, 11 players along with the coach have to be in unison in order to achieve success. When things go wrong, everyone wants to point the finger and find a scapegoat, but it’s never that simple. Sunday’s loss falls on everyone involved in the offense. They abandoned the run a little sooner than they should have, but the plays were there to be made all game. The problem was that the execution wasn’t even close.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson had plenty of bad reads and often refused to take his check-downs that were consistently available for easy yards. However, many times he was forced into a tough situation because of the offensive line, and the run game wasn’t consistent enough to help either. While Sunday was probably the worst moment of Stefanski Brown’s career, asking someone to create a game plan to make the fifth-round rookie’s life easier without a stable run game is a challenging task.

On top of that, none of us truly know what was going on in Berea, and we have no idea when they really started considering it wasn’t going to be Watson. Yes, Stefanski has made a living making average quarterbacks look better than they are, but that was with a dominant offensive line and Nick Chubb in the backfield. DTR struggled with processing defenses, as expected, and the run game couldn’t help but take the pressure off.


Head Coach Kevin Stefanski wins this award going away in my opinion.  Yes, even with a rookie quarterback in Dorian Thompson-Robinson and teammates not having a good game, the tone was set by Stefanski and his bizarre plan against the Ravens.

Even if Watson was healthy, why not run the ball more and do fewer trick plays while keeping it simple with field position and letting the defense win the day? I am starting to wonder if Stefanski is feeling the need to show his offensive mind, running a slick offense with unique play calling rather than just allowing his defense to rule, which is clearly the stronger side of the ball.

His play calling and planning were awful, and he allowed his ego to run the game instead of trying to get a win.  Stefanski seems like a good guy, but he has to get out of his own way and put the defense in good field position while his offense compliments victories while not turning the ball over.  He also has to figure out how to get the running game going.

3 –  What is more problematic for the Browns running game, the offensive line or the running back room?


I will let Tony handle the offensive line issue below, they have some real issues, especially at left tackle with Jedrick Wills.

The running back room also has some issues.  I like Jerome Ford, and I think has done a nice job, but Ford is not a lead back.  I don’t see him being a guy who can handle 15-plus carries a game.  It is great having Kareem Hunt back with the Browns, and it is a good story, but Hunt needs to perform.   On Sunday against the Ravens, he looked similar to what was seen in 2022, looks like he has lost a step and runs with good power, but his speed is just not what it used to be.  And we have not seen enough of Pierre Strong Jr. to get a read on what he can do. 

Obviously, this room is hurt without Nick Chubb the Browns need to get creative on what they can do in the running back situation to add another option.  No one on the current Browns roster at running back scares an opposing team, and they need to give this room some pop.  I can’t see this current room changing the running game issue.


As of right now, both elements are problematic for the run game, but the offensive line is the bigger issue. Against the Ravens, not a single lineman had a good game, including Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller, who are on big contracts. There were way too many instances of two guys blocking a single defender, and they were consistently one player away from doing their job for a successful play. Many instances on film showed that if one more lineman could have made the right block, the play had a real chance to break.

On the running back side, none of them have shown good vision and aren’t making the linemen’s lives easier. Chubb has some of the best vision you will find in a running back, and it’s nearly impossible to find someone who can even compare. On many occasions, all three of the Browns’ backs neglected the running lane and were forced outside for little to no gain.

The Browns have invested a lot of money in the offensive line and have one of the better-position coaches in the league. It’s time for them to really figure this out and stop missing assignments. Ideally, Jedrick Wills and Ethan Pocic won’t get beaten as much, but starting with simply blocking the right defender would help the run game tremendously. The backs aren’t going to pop off the page, but the line needs to create much better-running lanes going forward.

4 – Is this a one-game blip or a growing trend in the 2023 season for the Browns?


Every week presents a different challenge, and the only potential trend from Week Four is the struggles of the offensive line. Yes, the defense had its weakest performance of the year, but Lamar Jackson was once again unbelievable, and the Ravens presented a lot of creativity with their motion and run game that the Browns hadn’t seen yet. They adjusted very well at halftime defensively, and this unit will be a top-10 group for the rest of the year if they stay healthy enough.

The offensive line remains the biggest issue, and we’ve seen the majority of this unit excel together. Although having a generational back can help mask some blocking issues, they have objectively been very good since Stefanski took over. I have plenty of faith that they can figure this out and, at the very least, avoid miscommunications that allow free runners in the backfield. Players are going to lose reps, but mental mistakes are killers, and they are unacceptable for a unit with this much experience.

The scheme transition from an under-center, Chubb-based offense to a shotgun, Watson-based offense is necessary but complicates things. With the issues on the field along with the injury to the quarterback, the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time, and I don’t see this game having much of an effect on the rest of the season.


It is hard getting a read on what will happen moving forward in the 2023 season for our Browns.

I am worried about this being a growing trend moving forward.  This team seems very disjointed on offense, which by the way, is led by the head coach, so in a way, the head coach Kevin Stefanski is bringing down the team.  And the Browns seem to fighting an identity crisis of who they are.  This is a team led by a talented defense who should be focusing on field position and not turning the ball over.   Also hard to do when you can’t run the ball, see above.  I am not a fan of Stefanski, and I thought the Browns should have moved on from him last season, I am not seeing anything to change my opinion four games into 2023.

On the other hand, the schedule does bring some delightfulness with the Cardinals, Broncos, Bears, Jets, and Texans.  The Steelers seem like a mess on offense, and the Bengals have lost their mojo so far with a 1-3 record.  So, other issues within the division give some hope. That could be five or six wins right there, giving the Browns eight wins.  Add winning two tough games here and there, and getting to ten wins is possible.  They just need to get this ship settled, and they need to get Deshaun Watson back on the field ASAP!

Game Balls

Andy – David Njoku

Tony – N/A

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