Typical Cleveland Browns Problems, Typical Cleveland Browns Solutions

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns, Jimmy Haslam, Mitchell Trubisky

Time to step back and take a breathe. The Cleveland Browns aren’t making the playoffs in 2019. A winning record doesn’t seem attainable. Over and again, each member of the organization has proved incapable of handling the pressures of the expectations placed on them before the season. A weak schedule can no longer save them. What good are wins over Cincinnati and Miami? They’ll be empty calories, leaving fans hungry for something more significant.


The owner, the general manager, and the fans need to exercise patience. There are a myriad of problems with the roster and the coaching staff, but sweeping changes are not the answer. How often does a coach have to get fired, replaced, then fired again before they end the cycle? The Browns franchise returned in 1999 and has employed 11 head coaches in that time. Eleven coaches in 21 years. That’s obnoxious. The blame is placed at the feet of the wrong people.


Jimmy Haslam and Randy Lerner before him deserve criticism for the incompetence of this franchise for the past two decades. Would you blame the success or failure of General Motors on the line workers? They are the most important cog in the machine to be sure, but workers cannot succeed if they don’t have the correct tools, a safe work environment, and the proper training and education to flourish.


The owners of the Cleveland Browns have provided nothing but a toxic work space for their employees. Haslam hasn’t a clue what it takes to run an NFL franchise. He possesses neither the patience nor the wherewithal to put people in positions to succeed. His bravado and false sense of accomplishment allow him to brush his massive failures aside and place blame on others’ shoulders. A leader holds themselves accountable. Haslam has shown no sign he’s capable of self reflection.


The problems in Cleveland are deeper than the quarterback and coach. A systemic failure at the top of the organization oozes below, infecting the entire system. It’s a pitiful situation, and the fans are the ones who suffer. Firing a coach or replacing a general manager provides the masses with hope but does little to solve the overarching issues. The Cleveland Browns franchise will never win consistently until Jimmy Haslam sells the team, a depressing but true realization of the state of the franchise.


Baker Mayfield and Freddie Kitchens do look lost, however. The defense is regressing. The pressures of the NFL are mounting and no one involved has shown the capability to handle them.


On Sunday, the offense moved the ball and committed zero turnovers. The refs penalized the team only five times. Yet in pressure situations, they failed.


6-15 on third downs.
0-2 on fourth down.
One touchdown in five red zone appearances.


When the moment intensifies, Mayfield and the offense cower. On the season Mayfield in completing 35.9% of his passes inside the 20 yard line, throwing 4 touchdowns compared to 3 interceptions. Last year the numbers were 64.8% completions, 20 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. What happened?

Mayfield even struggles with a clean pocket


The talent is there. Mayfield has succeeded at every level, including the NFL. Not so long ago, he was the savior. He’s a quarterback with zero confidence. Bad plays have piled up. The expectations and pressure have buried him.


It’s time to give this group a chance to exhale. The final two months of the season may give them that chance. Can they find themselves somewhere under the rubble of the 2019 season?


The record will be a disappointment. Next off-season will offer less distraction. The national media will find the next big thing somewhere else. The Browns will be an afterthought. Is it possible for them to improve under those conditions? Cleveland’s was the third youngest roster entering the season. Contrary to popular belief, young NFL teams don’t make huge leaps from year to year. San Francisco is an exception in 2019, though Jimmy Garoppolo returned after missing all but 3 games last year, and they added the Defensive Rookie of the Year (presumably) in the draft.


Turning players and front office personnel over every other year hasn’t worked for twenty years. The team has won 18 games in 5 years. It can’t get any worse, right?

Buffalo arrives Sunday in Cleveland as one of the biggest surprises of the 2019 season, sporting a 6-2 record and the third-ranked defense in the league. Josh Allen is unspectacular, however, a middling quarterback who’ll turn the ball over. He’s thrown 7 interceptions and fumbled 10 times on the year. He’s dangerous outside the pocket and will use his feet at the first sign of trouble. Cleveland’s defense must force Allen to throw, especially in the red zone. He’s run for 4 touchdowns, and the Bills offense, though they rank 23rd in the league, excel in the red zone. They score touchdowns on 71% of their red zone chances, best in the league, because of Allen’s legs and an efficient running game.

Frank Gore and Devin Singletary split carries in the Buffalo backfield, though Singletary may overtake Gore as the year progresses. He’s averaging 6.7 yards per carry and is coming off his best performance of the year, tallying 95 yards against Washington. Quicker and younger than his counterpart, watch for Singletary’s carries to rise in the coming weeks.


Defensively the Bills lack stars yet continue to dominate. Third in the league in passing yards allowed, Buffalo shuts down opponent’s passing games. Yet to allow a 300 yard passer on the season, Mayfield faces an uphill battle to find any success this week. Quarterbacks complete only 60% of their passes against safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde and corners Levi Wallace and TreDavious White. They’re in the top five in the league in opponents’ QB rating and passes defended.


It’s difficult to see a path to victory for the Browns this week. They’re facing a confident team while living in a constant state of turmoil. Buffalo possesses the resiliency needed to win the low-scoring game likely on Sunday. The Browns’ offense has shown no propensity to overcome themselves, let alone a top five NFL defense.

The Whip Around

1. Josh Gordon got cut last week by the Patriots and claimed by Seattle, followed by reports of Seahawk players and fans gushing over their newest signing. Gordon is a special talent, but it’s difficult to imagine him succeeding in the NFL, regardless of the situation. He’s led a troubled life and deserves to find the help he needs to sort through his problems. An NFL locker room isn’t that place. Here’s hoping he finds that help.

2. Each week, defensive coordinators scheme to keep from getting beat deep by Tyreek Hill. Each week, they fail.

Chasing down an NFL running back with a 10 yard head start is unthinkable. How much for a Tyreek Hill-Usain Bolt 100M dash?

3. The vaunted Colts offensive line got schooled by the Steelers defensive front on Sunday, giving up 5 sacks, the most on the season. The Colts suddenly look average and injuries are piling up. A month removed from their upset of the Chiefs in Kansas City, Indy needs victories over Miami and Jacksonville over the next two weeks to right the ship before a mammoth trip to Houston in Week 12. Are the Colts a contender fighting through injuries or a team that peaked too early?

4. Speaking of the AFC South, the Texans defense looked the part in London against Jacksonville, but did not pressure Gardner Minshew until he needed to throw late. With a tough schedule that includes Baltimore, Indianapolis, and New England upcoming, the Texans must generate a pass rush. Will J. J. Watt’s injury and the trade of Jadeveon Clowney doom their playoff chances? Or will Deshaun Watson put up so many points that it won’t matter?

5. Philadelphia seems to have righted the ship, posting victories at Buffalo and Chicago after losing 4 of 6. Carson Wentz has regained his accuracy, completing at least 66% of his passes the last two weeks after posting sub 62% percentages in 5 of the 6 weeks preceding. With the 6th best rushing attack to complement Wentz, the Eagles seem poised to begin their yearly chase down of the Cowboys for the NFC East title.

6. The pitchforks are out in Chicago, hunting for the head of Mitchell Trubisky. A year after winning the division, the Bears are 3-5 with an offense unable to score points. While it’s looking likely the Bears will move on from the 2nd pick in the 2017 draft, who could be available to right the ship? Andy Dalton is an option. How many playoff victories does he have? Cam Newton is intriguing if Carolina hands the reins to Kyle Allen, but injuries have mounted for Cam and he’ll be 31 when next season kicks off. The loser of the Gardner Minshew/Nick Foles battle could be available, but Jacksonville would benefit by keeping both since Minshew is cheap. Eli Manning? Please. The best option may be Teddy Bridgewater. He held his own while Drew Brees healed, protecting the ball and allowing the Saints’ extraordinary defense to win games. Sounds like a perfect fit.

7. Lamar Jackson is what happens when an ultra-talented but flawed player falls into the right situation. Only a few organizations are savvy enough to put Jackson in a position to be an MVP candidate. Baltimore has proved again that smart teams win the draft, not because they unearth gems, but because they advance the abilities of their players instead of hindering them. Surrounded by a strong defense and elite running game, the Ravens are making the rest of the AFC North look like fools.

8. Halfway through the season, Josh Jacobs has the Offensive Rookie of the Year award wrapped up. Seventh in the league in rushing yards and tied for fifth in touchdowns, the Raiders’ back is the most impressive rookie in the league this side of Nick Bosa. On some runs, he’s a one cut back, putting a foot in the ground, hitting the hole, and showing off his speed. On others, he flashes an array of moves, jukes, and spins, leaving defenders flummoxed. An ideal combination of speed, power, size, and shiftiness, Jacobs will light up Vegas next year like, well, Vegas.

9. Browns, Jets, Redskins, Bengals. If you were to hitch your wagon to one of these franchises for the next decade which one’s the pick? Jimmy Haslam, Woody Johnson, Dan Snyder, Mike Brown. Maybe just pull the wagon yourself.

10. San Francisco vs. Seattle on Monday Night is the game of the year to this point. An undefeated 49ers squad at home with the best defense in the league against the presumptive MVP Russell Wilson. Richard Sherman squaring off against his old team. Seattle’s defense is the weak link in the matchup; can Pete Carroll scheme a way to slow down the 49er running game? The schedule toughens for San Francisco from here. A loss at home against a division rival could snowball on them. Prediction: the winner of this game wins the NFC West.

All stats courtesy of http://pro-football-reference.com

The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Cleveland Browns, Freddie Kitchens, NFL

There was never a doubt about Sunday. It was a loss in April when the schedule released, a loss during training camp, and a loss now. The way the Browns lose is concerning. When the talent isn’t meeting expectations, turnovers and penalties are mounting, and head scratching decisions are made on the sideline the blame lands in one spot, the head coach.

Freddie Kitchens was the concern heading into the season. Never a head coach at any level, did he possess the traits necessary to guide this out-of-control hype train? His team lacks discipline and does not correct mistakes. Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are the most skilled receiving duo in the league. They have combined for 64 catches and 1 touchdown in seven games. Something ain’t stirring the Kool-Aid.


Kitchens wasn’t ready for all the job entails. The players, management, and ownership were unprepared to handle the attention shone in their direction during the off-season. The 2019 season has been an organizational failure akin to the failures of the last twenty years. Nothing has changed in Cleveland.


Now is when it has to. Don’t fire Freddie. Forget about trading Odell. Don’t give up on Baker. This season has turned from one of hope to one of education. The Browns have detonated everything in the past at the first sign of adversity, leading them into the depths they reside today.


Let Kitchens learn on the job. What are the alternatives? Coach after coach turnstiles through Berea, none given a chance to show growth. Who is great at their job after two months? Who will hire the next coach if he’s fired? Jimmy Haslam has shown zero ability to run a franchise or hire competent help, save for John Dorsey. Why would anyone assume the Haslams will get the next one right? The process, and Dorsey, led the organization to select Freddie Kitchens to lead this team. They saw something in him, giving them faith he could do this. Don’t pull the ripcord now. Give Kitchens a chance to grow.

The turnovers and penalties led to the loss on Sunday. Not much needs rehashed. Until the players take on the responsibility of disciplining themselves on the field, until they decide winning matters, nothing will change. A few observations, however.


Why in the world are teams, and the Browns specifically, guarding Julian Edelman with linebackers and safeties? Edelman is the only pass catcher on New England’s offense that poses a threat to a defense. Instead of letting the Patriots scheme their way into mismatches, why not shadow Edelman with your best corner? Denzel Ward, or even Greedy Williams, should have drawn the assignment of checking the New England wide receiver. Instead, Joe Schobert and backup safety Eric Murray got beat on touchdown catches by Edelman. In certain match-ups, you must adapt the scheme to negate what an opponent wants to do.

Trying to guard Edelman(11) with Schobert(53) in the red zone is criminal


On fourth and seven from the Browns’ 33, New England went for it instead of kicking. The defense was unprepared and had to burn a timeout. On a cold, wet day and the other team employing a shaky kicker who they cut this week, why were they not ready for the possibility Bill Belichick wouldn’t kick? Inexcusable.


A positive from Sunday? The defensive line as a unit and Olivier Vernon were exceptional. Vernon and Myles Garrett recorded sacks, and Larry Ogunjobi and Sheldon Richardson stuffed the run and applied adequate pressure up the middle, preventing Brady from stepping up in the pocket. After a slow start, Vernon has flashed during the last two outings, providing pressure on opposing offenses opposite Garrett.

The recipe this week is the same as it’s been, avoid turnovers and penalties. It’s been a simple yet unattainable goal. They’ve shown no desire to rein in their disorderly tendencies and until that happens the opponent will not matter.


Joe Flacco is injured. The Broncos traded their best wideout, Emmanuel Sanders, to the 49ers last week.


Third year quarterback Brandon Allen has never taken a regular season snap and will start on Sunday. According to Lance Zierlein of the NFL Network, Allen is mobile with a strong arm. He’ll run if the pocket breaks down. Denver will look to pound the running game Sunday.


Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman are a strong running back duo. Lindsay is quick, a threat to break a big gainer each time he touches the ball. Freeman is more of a grinder who’ll wear defenses down the more carries he gets. With a young quarterback under center and the Browns defense struggling against the run (ranked 29th in the league) the Broncos have one choice on offense.


Defensively, the Broncos have been stout. Fourth in total yards, fourth against the pass, and 17th against the run, a low-scoring slog is likely on Sunday. Establish Nick Chubb, but continue to work to get Beckham and Landry involved. Von Miller is one of the best pass rushers in the league, yet has struggled a bit this year, only 4 sacks to his credit. Chris Harris Jr. has made 4 Pro Bowls at cornerback, yet is on the wrong side of 30. The Browns offense moves the ball when they avoid mistakes. They should do so Sunday.


The lighter portion of the schedule has arrived. Will the Browns take advantage? The difficulty faced to this point will either sharpen them or break them. Does the team many predicted them to be exist?

The Whip Around


1. Does anyone else in the history of football make this throw?

2. Matt Nagy has to put his players in a better position to succeed. Settling for a 41 yard field goal try, when the team had 43 seconds to improve field position is bush league, and is playing not to lose. Should an NFL kicker make a 41 yarder? Absolutely. But if you can make things easier on your players you do it. That kick isn’t a chip shot outdoors off Lake Michigan in October. Nagy set Eddy Pineiro up to be the scapegoat.

3. Nick Bosa is in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year. Seven sacks, nine hurries, and six quarterback knockdowns according to pro-football-reference.com, he’s terrorized opposing offenses, grinding them to a halt. The rookie is a star, leading a 49er defense that ranks second in the league in points allowed and 1st in both passing and rushing yards. If those numbers hold, Bosa will have two new trophies on his mantle, DPOY and Rookie of the Year.

4. The Rams have Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks, and Robert Woods on offense, yet Cooper Kupp is far and away their best weapon. He’s taken ownership of the middle of the field, sitting down in holes against zone coverage and making life easier for Jared Goff. After he catches the ball, he runs. Far. Second only to Austin Ekeler in yards after catch, he and Michael Thomas are the only receivers in the top ten, the rest being running backs. If the Rams make a second half run, Kupp will be a huge reason for it.

Via foxsports.com

5. Andy Reid called a fantastic game for Matt Moore on Sunday night, putting his backup QB in spots to succeed. Moore was efficient and didn’t turn the ball over. For all of Reid’s genius offensively, game situations still confound him, however. Down seven with 5 minutes left at their own 40 and facing a 4th and 3, Reid elected to punt. The Chiefs’ offense wouldn’t see the ball again. Why punt in that situation? Moore was playing well, and K.C. has two of the best short yardage weapons in the game in Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. K.C.’s defense was struggling, as they have for two years. Coaches need more aggression in those situations.

6. Derrick Henry dropped the ball on Sunday. He just dropped it. This dude is maddening.

7. Bad offenses are at their worst in goal to go situations. Chicago’s train wreck of a unit fits the bill. First and goal from the 4 with 43 seconds left in the 1st half, they ran for no gain, called a timeout, threw for a one yard gain, called a timeout, then threw incomplete. O.K., bad, but still 25 seconds left. Another run for no gain drained the clock to 1 second before Mitch Trubisky threw incomplete again. Eddy Pineiro kicked a 19 yard field goal. A touchdown there would’ve saved them from needing a field goal at the gun to win. Bad teams do bad things.

8. Buffalo came back to earth Sunday, getting trounced 31-13 at home against Philadelphia at windswept Orchard Park. Philly ran at will, totaling 218 on the ground. Josh Allen isn’t consistent enough for the defense to have off days, and the offense lacks any other play makers. The easy early season schedule may catch up to the Bills.

9. If you can figure out Jameis Winston, Tampa will pay you millions to move to the Gulf Coast of Florida. Here are Sunday’s numbers: 21-43, 301 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 picks, 2 fumbles, 53 yards rushing. You could see his game ending interception coming from Memphis. It’s the same as watching an old person sliding around on ice. Are they going to fall or catch themselves?

10. Just when Indianapolis looked like it belonged in the conversation with Kansas City and New England, they lay an egg at home against Denver, needing a 51 yard Vinatieri field goal to eke by the Broncos. The defense and running game will keep them in games, but Jacoby Brissett isn’t dynamic enough to win a shootout in the playoffs. The third best team in the AFC is light years behind the front two.