Normally when you ask that question when regarding the Cleveland Browns, it’s understandable. The Browns usually cause us to ask ourselves if they’re actually playing football or not. That was the case of the entire 2017 season when they went 0-16.
However, the 2019 season feels far worse than any of the previous few seasons. It feels worse despite the extreme level of talent a Browns’ team has not had in a long time. The climax of this problem was displayed on Thursday Night Football after the brawl between Browns defensive lineman Myles Garrett and Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph. So what exactly is going on?
With a 4-6 record after Week 11, it’s not as if the Browns aren’t competing. With as much talent as the Browns have, they have showed signs of being a playoff football team. But that’s just it. Winning has become so difficult for Cleveland.
For example, in their Sunday Night Football battle against the Los Angeles Rams, the Browns’ defense kept them in the entire game until the fourth quarter. Cleveland had a 13-10 lead, but they gave that lead up in the fourth quarter. And with a chance to tie and go to overtime, the offense stalled, and quarterback Baker Mayfield was to blame for not being good enough.
Losing the game in the fourth quarter has been a common theme for Cleveland. Mayfield had a game-losing interception in a 32-28 loss to Seattle (a game where they had a 20-6 lead). He was also incapable of leading a game-winning drive in a 24-19 loss at Denver.
The season has also involved more interceptions by Mayfield than all of last year. He has more interceptions (12) than touchdown passes (11). And the sad thing is most of those interceptions have been the result of receivers not catching passes. The worst one came in their blowout, 31-3 loss to San Francisco on Monday Night Football, when Antonio Callaway, who was suspended the first four games for misconduct, dropped a catch for a touchdown at the one-yard line that ended up in a defender’s hand for a pick. (Callaway was then waived by Cleveland this past week after failing another drug test.) And that leads to the other issue: goal line, red zone offense.
In the Browns’ third win of the season at home against Buffalo, Cleveland should have won a lot easier than they did. In the first quarter, the Browns had the ball at Buffalo’s one-yard line. After eight tries, they ended up turning the ball over without scoring. It was a miracle they beat the 6-2 Bills.
After Garrett beamed Rudolph in the head with his own helmet, back-to-back wins for the Browns almost feel like back-to-back losses. With non-traditional play calling by head coach Freddie Kitchens, the lack of maturity on the team, and too many dumb mistakes on the field, the 2019 Cleveland Browns will definitely be a team to remember—but for all the wrong reasons.
Both Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi were suspended after the brawl with Pittsburgh (which should earn its own name). But Garrett’s incident forced the NFL to suspend him indefinitely (which is currently under appeal). The defense has already been thin enough, but now without the main pass rusher, these final six games for the Browns are going to be tougher for them as they try to go on a push for the playoffs.