The Cleveland Browns offense struggled in yet another loss Sunday afternoon. The Seattle Seahawks got more than what they bargained for as the game was close throughout. In the end, again, the Browns defeat themselves late in the fourth quarter. Poor execution and mindless penalties cost the Browns another opportunity to live up to their potential.
The Browns Offense Struggles Against Seahawks
Freddie Kitchens Needs to Tighten the Ship
Coach Freddie Kitchens said in his post-game press conference he felt the loss was primarily due to execution and turnovers: “I have to call better plays, but it is execution and turning the ball over.” Please, tell us something that we don’t know. Kitchens has times where he is overwhelmed as a head coach and play-caller. Sunday was no exception.
The cluster at the Seahawks one-yard line in the third quarter proves Kitchens is lost during games. After the confusion, Kitchens calls the referee over to discuss the play and penalty. What I don’t understand is why he doesn’t throw the challenge flag right there. Instead, he waits until the ball is about to be snapped on fourth and one to throw the challenge flag to review if Jarvis Landry crossed the plane before fumbling. The challenge flag is thrown as the ball is snapped so the Seahawks defense was able to see the play the Browns were running. Not only did he lose the challenge, but Kitchens also ran almost the same exact play from right before the challenge flag. The Seahawks were ready for it, resulting in a turnover on downs.
That entire sequence reeks of someone in over his head. Not only is he too stubborn to relieve himself of play-calling duties, but Kitchens also lacks the ability to maintain consistent discipline. The Browns committed nine penalties for a total of 83 yards. Greg Robinson and Chris Hubbard committed two costly penalties that destroyed momentum during offensive drives. One week, the Browns look somewhat disciplined. The next, they’re right back showing us why they are the most penalized team in the NFL with 57 through six weeks. Again, discipline falls on Kitchens and the coaching staff.
The Ice is Thinning
There are plenty of Baker Mayfield apologists online. I try not to be a member of that group and be brutally truthful about what I am seeing. If we are going to evaluate the direction of the Browns, we must be honest about their franchise quarterback. I don’t want to proclaim that he’s not the answer, but Mayfield still doesn’t look to be the savior the Browns faithful has been waiting for.
Mayfield leads the league in turnovers with a total of 12. He is on pace to have 32 turnovers this season. There’s a stat that shows eight of Mayfield’s interceptions hit the intended receiver’s hands. I’d like to add some context to that “stat.” While all three of Mayfield’s interceptions on Sunday hit the receiver’s hands, all three were also thrown behind the receiver. Imagine running full speed in one direction, then needing to reach back to catch the ball. I’m not making excuses for the receivers, but lead the receivers and Mayfield has fewer interceptions. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t accuracy one of Mayfield’s strengths for draft experts?
I love Mayfield’s toughness. After going to the locker room with the hip injury, I would’ve understood if he didn’t come back to the game. The injury certainly didn’t cause the Browns offense to struggle. Nick Chubb took care of business with 122 yards and two touchdowns. Giving up four turnovers, stupid penalties, and keeping your own defense gassed on the field are the more contributing factors.
If Kitchens wants to keep his job, he has to correct Mayfield’s turnover problem. Kitchens sings the same song at every postgame presser and the Browns fans are tired of the tune. It’s only a matter of time before the city is calling for a new head coach. This will be one of the longest bye weeks for local sports media in recent memory.