The Browns are sitting at a comfortable 5-3, heading into the week 10 match-up with Deshaun Watson and The Texans at FirstEnergy Stadium. Through eight games last year the Browns were a putrid 2-6, and people were calling for Freddie Kitchens job. Fast forward to this year and the Browns are two games above .500 and in the thick of the playoff picture in the AFC. On top of that, Browns fans are loving what they are seeing in new Head Coach Kevin Stefanski. With the start of the second half of the season coming on Sunday, it’s time to hand out some player grades through the Browns first eight games. Today we will start with the offense.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield: C+
- In Baker’s third season under center, he is finally playing in games that matter. Overall Baker has been up and down all year. He can play like he did at Pittsburgh, where he was 10-18 for 119 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Sometimes we see that side of Baker, and other times we see the Baker Mayfield who’s a gun-slinging accurate passer, like he was at Cincinnati. In that game he 22-28 for 297 yards and five touchdowns. For the Browns to really compete for a playoff spot this year, Baker needs to improve his decision making and accuracy. Without Odell Beckham Jr., we could see Baker return to his rookie season’s form, where he spread the ball around and had very good accuracy. Getting injured running back Nick Chubb back in the lineup should also help Mayfield considerably.
Running Back Nick Chubb: INC (Incomplete)
- Chubb went down with an MCL sprain in the first quarter of the Browns’ game versus Dallas. He only played in four games, so his grade is incomplete. However before he went down, he had 335 rushing yards and four touchdowns. If he can return to that form, he will be a top three running back in the league.
Running Back Kareem Hunt: B
- Through eight games, five without backfield teammate Nick Chubb, Hunt has 529 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Those numbers put him a little bit ahead of the pack in the NFL. However, Hunt has caught four touchdowns, making him a threat through the air and on the ground. Hunt as well as Mayfield, should see their play improve with the return of Nick Chubb.
Tight End David Njoku: INC
- Njoku has missed three games, so his grade is also incomplete. In the eight games he did play he was targeted 13 times and caught eight of those. He only has 102 receiving yards on the year, but he is a threat in the red zone, as he has two touchdowns on only eight catches.
Tight End Austin Hooper: C+
- Hooper was also forced to miss some time from appendicitis. However in the six games he did play in, he caught 22 passes for 205 yards, and one touchdown. Yes, those numbers are above average, but they are not on par for a player who was supposed to be the Browns big free agent signing.
Tight End Harrison Bryant: B+
- The rookie tight end has filled in well for Njoku and Hooper when they are both out. On the year he has 15 catches for 151 yards and three touchdowns. Look for Bryant to be more of an offensive priority as the season goes on.
Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr.: C
- For one of the league’s best receivers, Beckham’s numbers just aren’t on that level. Beckham went down with a knee tear in week seven at the Bengals, and will miss the rest of the season. On the year he’s caught 23 balls for 319 yards and three touchdowns. He also has a rushing touchdown from the Cowboys game. Browns fans might have seen the last of Odell Beckham Jr. in a Browns jersey.
Wide Receiver Jarvis Landry: B+
- On the year, Landry has caught 33 passes for 419 yards, but no touchdowns. Landry has still been Baker Mayfield’s favorite target. Landry also makes plays that help the team, just like he did in the Cincinnati game by getting rookie tight end Harrison Bryant to line up correctly on the Browns final drive. Landry and Mayfield are the unquestioned leaders on offense for the Browns.
Wide Receiver Rashard Higgins: C
- Rashard Higgins has had a quiet year for the Browns. He has only been targeted 15 times, catching 12 of those. However he does have 177 yards on the year with two touchdowns. The Browns need to get Higgins more involved in the offense, especially without Beckham Jr.
Wide Receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones: B
- Peoples-Jones has been used sparingly on offense for the Browns. He has been targeted four times and caught three of those. His lone touchdown reception on the year came in a huge spot. He caught Baker Mayfield’s pass for a touchdown in the waning seconds of the game at Cincinnati.
Left Tackle Jedrick Wills: B
- Wills has started every game for the Browns at left tackle. He has been pretty good so far this year. Wills has only allowed three sacks all year. However, he has been penalized seven times, so he needs to work on his technique in the second half of the season.
Left Guard Joel Bitonio: A-
- Joel Bitonio has been a model for consistency all year. Bitonio is the leader of the offensive line, and he sure plays like it. Bitonio has only given up one sack all year. The more incredible stat is that he’s hasn’t been penalized all year.
Center J.C. Tretter: B+
- The Browns center, and NFLPA President J.C. Tretter has also had a great year on the interior. He has given up only one sack, and only been penalized once. Once Nick Chubb returns from injury, the Browns offensive line as a whole should have a better second half to the season.
Right Guard Wyatt Teller: A
- Before he went down with a leg injury, Teller was playing like the best interior lineman in the NFL. He was the lead blocker for a lot of run plays, and he also did not allow a sack. He will have to work on his discipline when he returns, as he was penalized four times. Before the injury, PFF gave Teller a 94.4 overall grade, good for best in the NFL. (PFF)
Right Tackle Jack Conklin: B
- Conklin was a huge free agent signing for the Browns. With left-tackle locked down by rookie Jedrick Wills, Conklin fit right in at right-tackle. On the year he has been penalized once, and given up one sack. Those are some pretty good numbers, especially because he’s trying to block some of the best edge defenders in the NFL.
Utility Offensive Lineman Chris Hubbard: B-
- Hubbard, the man out of UAB, has been filling in for right guard Wyatt Teller while he’s injured. Hubbard is a natural tackle, but has stepped in and played pretty well at right guard. Hubbard has not allowed a sack all year. That’s pretty good for a right tackle playing guard!
Kicker Cody Parkey: B+
- The man who is most well-known for the infamous double-doink, is actually having a pretty good season for the Browns. He’s 10-11 on field goals with a long of 46 yards. Parkey has also made all but on extra point. If Parkey can become a weapon for the Browns, it will help them greatly going down the stretch.
Punter Jamie Gillan: B
- Gillan is having a decent year at punter for the Browns. Overall he’s punted 24 times with a long of 71. He has also landed the punt inside the opponent’s 20 yard line eight times this season.
That’s it for the Cleveland Browns offense. Be sure to check back tomorrow as we give out player grades for the defense and return-men. With a 5-3 record, the Browns are right where they want to be at this point in the year.
Follow Me on Twitter: @BrownlojCLE
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