Only one thought about the 2-5 Browns
It happened again.
It happens every fall, actually.
That point when, after the Cleveland Browns make a startling number of errors in an embarrassing loss, I sit back and ponder some of my life choices.
“Why do I do this? Why do I care so much? What’s the point?”
Yeah, it’s probably too deep for a football game. I know that.
But after the Browns 27-13 loss to the Patriots Sunday — which was far uglier than the score indicated — there was a new emotion that took hold.
I’m ditching the five takeaways this week, because I only have one takeaway, and that’s it.
Yes, I always get angry during Browns games. I have since 1988.
I’m angry because I feel like the franchise shouldn’t be a laughingstock now.
Not after a 4-45 record from 2015-17.
Not after a winless 2017 season.
And not after last season, when finally, it looked like the Browns had found a franchise quarterback, a top-level pass rusher and a surprising level of confidence.
You don’t get to make us sit through years and in fact decades of incompetence, give us hope and be embarrassing again.
And yet, after watching Sunday’s game with the Patriots, that’s what the Browns are.
Three turnovers on consecutive plays. Five sacks of Baker Mayfield, who looks more and more average by the week.
Penalties, penalties, penalties.
New coach in training Freddie Kitchens challenging two plays that had no chance to be overturned.
“I don’t coach penalties,” Kitchens says over and over again.
But Sunday proved that to be untrue. Facing a fourth and 11 deep in his own territory, trailing by 17 with less than eight minutes left in regulation, Kitchens sent his punt team out.
But then he decided he wanted to go for it.
The Browns had one timeout left but didn’t want to use it. So Kitchens instructed a player to false start. After which, the Browns offense returned to the field.
Predictably, on fourth and 16, Mayfield was sacked.
In my career, I’ve covered dozens of football coaches. I can’t think of one of them who would have tried something like that.
I’m not even sure a former Browns coach would try it, and that includes Pat Shurmur, who once called a handoff to a tight end.
Even after a bye, the Browns were sloppy and mediocre.
I know they were playing the Patriots, the class of the NFL.
But I didn’t even feel like New England played that well. Or at least, they didn’t have to.
The Browns had 13 penalties and three turnovers. Tailback Nick Chubb — the Browns best player — fumbled on consecutive plays. Mayfield performed a shovel pass that was caught by a Patriots defensive lineman.
To most of the country, it was comedy.
But I wasn’t laughing. I don’t care whose fault it is.
The players, the coach, GM John Dorsey all have to take some blame.
The Browns are 2-5, and they’re out of credit.
They need to play better.