BEREA, Ohio (AP) — The frustration is mounting, so are the losses for the up-and-down Browns.
Jarvis Landry doesn’t claim to have all the answers, and as he pointed out several times Thursday he’s not calling plays. But one of Cleveland’s star receivers said it’s time to get the ball to the team’s best playmaker.
Force feed Odell Beckham Jr.
“I don’t call plays, right?” Landry said as the Browns prepared to host Seattle. “We have to just deliberately get him the ball. Get all of our playmakers the ball. Guys that are going to make plays for us, just get them the ball.”
Beckham’s start with the Browns (2-3) has not gone as planned. Cleveland’s offense has sputtered, partly because first-year coach Freddie Kitchens and new coordinator Todd Monken haven’t figured out how to best utilize the speedy three-time Pro Bowler and one of the NFL’s most electrifying players.
In the past two weeks, Beckham has caught just four passes for 47 yards, totals that should be reflective of his production in two quarters, not eight. The Browns’ inability to integrate Beckham has been alarming, forcing Kitchens to get creative in order to get him touches.
On Monday night in San Francisco, Beckham completed a pass on the first play, lined up in the backfield to take a pitch and even returned a punt, a decision that backfired on Kitchens when OBJ fumbled and the 49ers recovered.
The turnover was symbolic of Beckham’s first five games with Cleveland — careless and confusing.
Beckham hasn’t openly grumbled about his lack of production, and by all accounts he’s been the consummate teammate. Kitchens went out of his way to praise Beckham’s downfield blocking in a Sept. 29 win at Baltimore, the Browns’ best performance to date.
But there’s a disconnection and no one seems to know how to best fix it. Quarterback Baker Mayfield doesn’t have chemistry with Beckham to this point, and the Browns need those two to interact quickly before a promising season plummets.
“You know right now the season can go either way,” Beckham said after practice. “We’re at that fork in the road, and it’s funny we’re all having these conversations whereas this team might have been 1-4, 0-5 and now we’re all upset because we’re 2-3. So that’s a good mindset that we have that we’re 2-3 and we know that we’re capable of doing more. It’s just about doing more.”
Landry believes it starts with getting the ball to Beckham, who has just one touchdown.
“I’m not calling plays or designing anything,” Landry said. “But at the end of the day, obviously he’s a key part of our offense whether the ball’s in his hands or not. We’ve got to find ways for other guys to continue to make plays. But the way that it’s been going, we haven’t really been making enough plays without him touching the ball.”
Landry, who has benefited from Beckham being double-teamed, said he shares his thoughts on the offense with Kitchens.
“I try to be as transparent about the things that I see on the field as often as possible,” he said. “Whether it’s film study throughout the week that I’ve seen or something during the game that I see and just try to talk to them about it. At the end of the day I can only give my suggestion, I’m not the one calling the plays. I can only give my suggestion.”
Beckham was diplomatic when asked about his limited production — 23 catches for 335 yards. He wants to do more, offering to take an expanded role if that would help take some pressure off the struggling Mayfield, who leads the league with eight interceptions.
“It’s just whatever to win. I just want to help,” said Beckham. “I feel like I was brought here to help this team and that’s all I want to do. So, if it has to be handoffs, like it’s whatever. Just finding ways to have successful plays, not just giving me the ball to appease me or anything like that. It’s about more about having success within the game and within the team.”
NOTES: Landry made his 500th reception on the opening pass from Beckham, his close friend and former LSU teammate. Landry was unaware of the milestone until after the 31-3 loss. “I actually honestly didn’t know until a couple days ago that there were 500 catches and that it was from O,” he said. “What a way to do it.” Did they ever do that in college? “In practice,” Landry said. “We tried. It didn’t work.” … CBs Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams did more during practice but their availability for Sunday remains cloudy. Both starters have missed the past three games with hamstring pulls.
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