Week 1 ICYMI: Browns bad as ever; Kyler makes a comeback
Undisciplined. Mistake-prone. Just downright awful.
These Cleveland Browns looked a lot like THOSE Cleveland Browns — the ones the fast-growing bandwagon of Browns fans thought, or at least hoped, had been left far back in the rearview mirror.
The most hyped team over the NFL offseason racked up 18 penalties for 182 yards in Sunday’s season opener, while star-in-the-making quarterback Baker Mayfield threw three interceptions in the fourth quarter.
The Browns lost 43-13 to Tennessee to drop to 1-19-1 in openers since 1999.
“You all can crown them if you want to crown them,” Titans tight end Delanie Walker said. “We still have to play football.”
With Mayfield entering his second season, and with newly acquired receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and with a new coach (Freddie Kitchens) and the momentum from a strong finish to 2018, Cleveland became the trendy pick to buck decades of awfulness and win its division, and maybe even more.
Instead, the first game ended in front of a mostly empty home stadium, with the deficit swelling to more than four touchdowns; it was the first Cleveland loss of 30-plus points since 2015.
Nothing went right.
“We lost our discipline and we lost our composure, but it is one game ... .” Kitchens said.
And that is about all Browns fans had to be thankful for after Week 1.
In case you missed it, here are some other topics people were talking about on the opening Sunday of the 2019 season:
COMEBACK KYLER: One game into his NFL career, and quarterback Kyler Murray is still undefeated.
Still looking for his first win, too — though that’s missing the point.
The top pick in this year’s draft led the Cardinals on an 18-point fourth-quarter comeback to close out his debut with a 27-all tie against Lions that felt a lot better than that.
Murray looked every bit a rookie over three-plus quarters, completing only nine of 25 passes for 95 yards and failing to get Arizona in the end zone.
Suddenly, something clicked.
Murray threw for 238 yards and two scores in the fourth quarter and overtime. The teams traded field goals in the 10-minute extra session, but finished in a tie.
Murray’s explanation for the quick turnaround was simple: “We just started doing what we were good at,” he said.
CONTRACT TALKS: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones might want to hurry and get Dak Prescott’s name on that dotted line.
Meanwhile, Chargers running back Melvin Gordon might want to hurry back to the bargaining table.
Two contract disputes took different turns Sunday.
Not long after Prescott threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns in a 35-17 win over the Giants, Jones said a much-awaited deal with his quarterback was imminent. Good idea. Under terms of his current rookie contract, Prescott is only making $2.1 million this year. That will increase dramatically when (if?) Jones and his quarterback come to terms.
Meanwhile, Gordon, who can run, catch and find the end zone — he scored 38 touchdowns over the last three seasons — is holding out, but the Chargers didn’t really miss him in their 30-24 overtime win over Indy. Running back Austin Ekeler had 154 total yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner.
PLAN B: The Jaguars thought Nick Foles might solve their quarterback problems and make them a contender again.
OK, well, how about Gardner Minshew?
Foles, who signed an $88 million contract with Jacksonville in the offseason, left the game in the first quarter with a broken collarbone that will keep him out for the foreseeable future.
Enter Minshew, the sixth-round draft pick out of Washington State, who completed his first 13 passes — the longest such streak for a player making his debut in the past 40 years. He finished 22 for 25 to record the highest completion percentage (88) by a quarterback in his NFL debut.
But Jacksonville lost 40-26 to Kansas City.
FAKE OUT: The Ravens were already leading 35-3 and their opponent, the Dolphins, were showing no signs of life.
Sounds like the perfect time for a fake punt.
Punt protector Anthony Levine took the direct snap and ran for 60 yards to set up Baltimore’s sixth touchdown of the first half. The Ravens squeaked by, 59-10.
Afterward, it had to be asked: What was coach John Harbaugh thinking?
“It’s there. That’s what we do. You play football,” Harbaugh explained.