Browns: It’s time for Freddie Kitchens to go all-in to get Odell Beckham Jr. the ball
Oh, the Cleveland Browns. The franchise has been the laughingstock of the NFL for too long, but this season was supposed to be different. This season was the year the Browns made the playoffs, the season that Cleveland finally became a real NFL team.
With a nucleus of star players, coach Freddie Kitchens’ offense was supposed to be deadly. Instead, it’s just been more of the same. The Browns are 2-6, coming off of an embarrassing loss to the Denver Broncos. A noticeable problem is the lack of star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Beckham was acquired via trade from the New York Giants in the offseason to be the go-to guy, but Kitchens hasn’t involved him nearly enough. In order for the Browns’ offense to start moving, Beckham needs to be fed the football.
During Beckham’s time with the Giants, he proved himself to be an elite wide receiver. Despite playing a middling quarterback in Eli Manning, Beckham never fell short of 1,000 yards receiving when he played a full season. As of now, the former LSU Tiger is set to top 1,000 yards, but barely. An even more concerning statistic is that Beckham only has 39 receptions. That ranks 33rd in the NFL, behind names like Leonard Fournette, Austin Ekeler, and Jamison Crowder.
While the stats show that Beckham isn’t involved enough, you could tell that from the eye test. There are times that Beckham becomes completely invisible. Mayfield seems to have not yet developed the necessary rapport with his prized receiver, as Beckham has been erased whenever his quarterback is forced to scramble out of the pocket.
A shocking stat that shows just how much Beckham has been underutilized is his red-zone involvement. He has a whopping one target inside the 20 on the entire season. That is not a typo. Beckham has hardly been involved in the most important area of the field, an area in which the Browns usually struggle.
Although Beckham has had almost no impact on the Cleveland offense, it’s not indicative of his skill. Both he and fellow receiver Jarvis Landry have struggled mightily, despite being supremely talented. Mayfield and Kitchens combine to make up the real problem. Kitchens has made some genuinely head-scratching play-calls, and Mayfield follows suit with head-scratching throws. One can’t help but feel bad for Beckham; a superstar stuck on another bad team. Hopefully, he can spearhead an offensive turnaround, and revive the Browns.