Usually, after a Brown’s victory, I cannot wait to add my voice to those praising the team, applauding outstanding efforts, and generally enjoying the moment. Even after a loss, I tend to defend our players as if each one was my own child.
However, these past weeks have felt different. To be honest, this entire season has felt different, and not in a good way. For a team who, on paper at least, still has a small chance at nabbing a Wildcard spot in the playoffs, we have to fix some issues that are bigger than what is happening on the field.
Why? Because the fundamentals of the game remain the same. If the ONLY thing that mattered was talent on the team, the 2019 Cleveland Browns could have run roughshod over a good number of teams in the NFL.
I see three primary issues that have caused more problems than any number of penalties, dropped catches, fines, ejections, suspensions, or interceptions could cause.
1) Freddie’s Faults
I am not a fan who quickly jumps on the ‘fire the coach’ bandwagon the moment things start to go south for a team. In fact, I am still not on the ‘fire Freddie Kitchens bandwagon.’
Why? Because this man was handed a position he was not ready to execute. However, tossing him out of the door takes away the continuity the team desperately needs.
Consider, for a moment, the storehouse of experience Freddie brought to the head coaching position. *crickets* I know many will point to Freddie’s time learning under Nick Saban or the great Bill Parcels. However, spending 20 years or so as an assistant in various capacities is not enough of a reason to have the key to the head coach’s office. Especially, the for this young team.
Freddie came to Cleveland in January 2018 as a running backs coach. When the mid-season coaching shake-up happened, and defensive coordinator, Greg Williams took the reigns as head coach, Freddie became the offensive coordinator. He ran the offense well.
I still ponder the how and why of Freddie getting the head coaching job. When you have the third-youngest team in the NFL, your top guy needs to be someone with a steady hand who can corral the young guys and form a strong unit. I wish Freddie were still our offensive coordinator. Because, from that position, he could have made many valuable contributions to building the team.
2) Mayfield’s Multitasking
Oh, the life of an NFL quarterback…face of the franchise, field general, on winning days, everyone’s hero, and the perennial scapegoat for every loss. (Hey – I don’t make the rules here, just an observation.)
Unfortunately, Baker Mayfield seems to be a scapegoat every week. Honestly, it is painful to watch. Win or lose; the guy seems to be picked apart by the local and in some cases, national media. (Yes, Tony Grossi and Mary Kay Cabot, I am looking at you) So, what else does Baker need to do to lead this team to consistent victories?
Baker is trying to be a team leader. He is front and center shouldering the blame, sharing the praise, and taking charge as best he can. In his statements, he is consistently talking about getting everyone on the same page and other similar comments.
However, Baker is a sophomore quarterback in a very young locker room. Add to that, the fact that no other players appear to be stepping into the role, and leadership becomes a huge job for one young man. Times like these, make me long for Joe Thomas and his steady, strong experience.
3) Media Mayhem
Because a team struggling with inconsistencies and discipline should have more distractions, ladies and gentlemen I give you the Cleveland Browns’ beat writers. Stirring empty pots, beating dead horses, and continually finding a way to dig lower than anyone thought possible.
The weekly drama stirred up by Cleveland Brown’s beat writers Tony Grossi and Mary Kay Cabot is nothing if not exhausting. We have newly manufactured hysteria regularly.
Granted, some stories, like the Myles Garrett suspension, had so much momentum that they were nearly impossible to walk away from reporting.
However, picking statements out of context along with badgering players and being chippy towards their wives is cheap, divisive click-bait that has no business in sports reporting. I challenge anyone to maintain their concentration while being consistently in the midst of a needless nonsensical narrative.
So, the Browns and all of their many troubles head out to face the Cardinals in Arizona. A win keeps playoff hopes on life-support for the moment. What’s left to say except Go Browns?