Baker Mayfield did not have the same explosive start on Friday night as he did during the first week of the preseason.
Facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium, the Cleveland Browns QB struggled to string together completions to his wide receivers, going 3 of 7 for 18 yards in the first quarter.
Jaelen Strong, Derrick Willies and Rashard Higgins all caught a pass during the first 12 minutes, but Mayfield’s deep balls didn’t work out. He did have a nice escape and completion for a first down, getting away from Ndamukong Suh.
In all, Mayfield was 10 of 26 for 72 yards, tossing an interception on the last play of the first half. The Browns led 9-0 at the break.
In his preseason debut against the Redskins, Mayfield was 5 for 6 for 77 yards and a touchdown. He missed his first throw and never missed again, but only played one series.
Mayfield was without his top targets Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, who sat out for rest.
Browns Defensive Line Makes Impact Early & Often
It didn’t take long for the Cleveland Browns defensive line to make an impact against Tampa Bay and Jameis Winston was under constant duress.
The unit registered back-to-back sacks of Winston to open up the game and things only got tougher for the QB.
Chris Smith got one — with an assist from Sheldon Richardson who threw Winston into him — and newcomer Olivier Vernon tallied the other.
While he didn’t get credit on the play, much of the Browns success can be traced to third-year defensive end Myles Garrett.
Garrett is coming off a Pro Bowl season where he notched 44 total tackles, including 35 solo stops, playing in all 16 games. He also recorded 13.5 sacks, coming up just a half-sack short of the tying Reggie Camp’s 35-year-old single-season franchise record. If one thing is evident it’s that the addition of guys like Richardson and Vernon to the line will make it nearly impossible for teams to double-team him on any kind of regular basis.
The announcers noted how the Bucs moved the ball better on their second series, citing adjustments. But much of it could have had to do that Garrett was wearing a ball cap on the sideline after the first series.
The Browns had as many sacks (5) as Winston had completions after three series. Vernon ended up with a pair, while Kirksey, Smith, Richardson and corner Denzel Ward accounted for the others.
Kicker Austin Seibert Drills Trio of Field Goals for Leg Up in Kicking Competition
Austin Seibert earned a leg up in the Browns kicking competition, drilling a 54-yard kick to open up the scoring in Tampa Bay. He added a 36-yard boot early in the second quarter and followed that up with a no-doubt 30-yarder.
Cleveland picked Seibert in the fifth round of this year’s draft and he is competing with veteran Greg Joseph for the starting gig and both have struggled so far through training camp. Both Seibert and Joseph missed kicks against the Colts at an indoor stadium and have been inconsistent in practice.
Despite that, Browns head coach Kitchens has said that the team is not looking to sign a kicker, although much of that could be because most teams are carrying two kickers currently, meaning most of the viable options are taken.
“We’re not trying to bring in a new kicker right now,’’ said Kitchens. “We’ve got two guys right here that can kick the ball a long way. We need them to get their act right and get the job done.”