Quarterback Baker Mayfield has been a popular target for critics of the Cleveland Browns this season. However, head coach Kevin Stefanski has also taken some of the blame for his playcalling decisions.
On Monday night, during the Browns game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Peyton Manning was the latest to focus on the latter.
The Hall of Fame quarterback, and co-host of the "ManningCast" alongside his brother Eli, plainly evaluated Cleveland's offense as it struggled during the first half of the AFC North tilt. He criticized the Browns for not utilizing Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb enough and often times, not even having him on the field.
"Any time Chubb is not next to Baker, nothing good is happening," Manning said,
Peyton Manning: ‘Any time Chubb is not next to Baker, nothing good is happening.’
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) January 4, 2022
">per ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.
Manning isn't the first major personality to make a point about Chubb's usage, or lack thereof, when the Browns have struggled this year. Instead of putting the ball in the hands of one of Cleveland's best skill players, Stefanski seems determined to rely more heavily on his quarterback.
That was the case on Monday and Mayfield didn't live up to the expectations of his head coach. The former No. 1 overall pick went 4-for-15 in the first half and the Browns offense barely broke the 100-yard barrier through the first two quarters.
The lone highlight for Cleveland in the first half came when Chubb gashed the Pittsburgh defense for a 32-yard gain. He took just four total carries in the Browns first six offensive possessions.
Cleveland has dealt with a lot of injury adversity in 2021, which has been hard on Stefanski and his staff this season. Regardless, the organization has to make some adjustments to kickstart its offense this offseason.
Whether those changes will come primarily from a personnel or a gameplan standpoint remains to be seen, but the Browns are a team to watch these next few months.