It’s far to say through six games into a 16-game season that 2019 hasn’t exactly gone the way that the Cleveland Browns had planned. Despite bold moves in the offseason, they are, in fact, in worse position right now than they were at this time a year ago, before they made big changes mid-season and actually started winning games.
After making significant changes along the defensive line and adding an All-Pro wide receiver to the mix, it turns out—the offensive line is still a problem. It was bad enough that they traded away Pro Bowl guard Kevin Zeitler in order to acquire Olivier Vernon along the defensive line, but most of the line—all of the rest retreads from last year—hasn’t been up to par, either.
That has been especially the case at left tackle with Greg Robinson, who started most of last season and improved over the course of the year. He was given a new contract this offseason with the front office operating under the belief that he’s turned a corner and is ready to grow into the franchise left tackle role.
Now, after six games, the coaching staff is making changes. Robinson himself told reporters yesterday that he would not be starting on Sunday, though he would not say who would be starting in his place at left tackle for the Browns.
Reportedly, third-year Justin McCray has been working at left tackle this past week. Kendall Lamm is still recovering from injury, and may not be able to go for the next game. Those are the two players listed on the depth chart at tackle on the team’s website behind the starters.
Outside of left guard Joel Bitonio and center J.C. Trett, the Browns’ offensive line hasn’t been great, including Eric Kush replacing Zeitler at right guard, and former Steeler Chris Hubbard playing at right tackle.
The offensive line has allowed 16 sacks on the season so far. Baker Mayfield is being sacked on 7.5 percent of his dropbacks this year, after getting taken down at a rate of 4.9 percent during his rookie season, and that was a number that improved significantly during the second half of the season.
The Browns rank just 23rd in points scored so far this season. They have been held to under 15 points three times already, and have only scored more than 23 points twice. Their most impressive game of the season so far, by far, has been their win over the Baltimore Ravens.
And their next game is on the road against the New England Patriots, who are undefeated this year. Cleveland may be going there with the intention of winning, but the odds of them notching their third victory this week are slim to none.