(Image credit Scott Galvin/USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick
Well, the time has come as the Cleveland Browns have officially been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. This was a big disappointment as many thought that the Cleveland Browns would take a bigger step after they had a deep playoff push last season. Mainly because Pittsburgh played down to competition as usual (Remind me Why Mike Tomlin is still the head coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers again?) but Cleveland almost defeated the Kansas City Chiefs last season. There were many things that went wrong with the Cleveland Browns this season. In this article, I will go through three main reasons why the Cleveland Browns did not make the playoffs this season.
1. The Covid Outbreak
Again I hate using this as an excuse and reason why the Browns did not make the playoffs but I have to in this case. At one point the Browns had 22 players that were placed on the covid list including QB Baker Mayfield (We will get to him later) and QB Case Keenum which took them out for the game against the Las Vegas Raiders. At least the Browns started QB Nick Mullens who is one of my favorite QBs in the NFL as his name sounds similar to my own name. But it also hurt them that Head Coach Kevin Stefanski also tested positive for Covid-19 and did not coach against the Raiders as well. The worst part is they needed these games that the Browns played during their covid outbreak due to how competitive the AFC was in wildcard spots and the division. This Covid-19 Outbreak really screwed the Cleveland Browns here.
2. The Odell Beckham Drama
Yeah, many would point this as the reason that the Cleveland Browns did not make the playoffs for this season. No matter what an NFL’s main goal is to maintain the culture of the locker room to ensure success both on and off the football field. Many have known how much of a cancer Odell Beckham has been in both the New York Giants and the Cleveland Browns locker room. Odell has been a gigantic distraction from the locker room and was excused from multiple different practices due to his criticisms of how he was being used. Then his own father posted on social media defending his son showing how the Browns were improperly using his son on the offense. As a result, he was too much of a distraction and it resulted in him being granted his release from the Browns. Now Odell Beckham Jr is ring chasing with the Los Angeles Rams. This culturally destroyed the Browns locker room and it had an effect on why they were eliminated.
3. The Regression of QB Baker Mayfield
I just finished watching their latest matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I predicted in my latest article that the Steelers would play down to competition against the Browns. I will give congratulations to the Steelers as they did win this game but I came to the realization. Baker Mayfield stinks. He has heavily regressed this season. Yes, Baker Mayfield is dealing with a shoulder injury, he did test positive for Covid-19, and his o-line got injured. But he made some horrible throws all season even when he was healthy. I started noticing something was up when the Cleveland Browns faced the Minnesota Vikings as he made some awful throws against a declining defense and secondary that was a mess. Even against a beaten-up Detroit Lions team, Baker could barely do much. I really don’t know what the Browns will do with Baker Mayfield. I am starting to doubt the long-term future of him as a Brown. I honestly won’t be shocked if the Cleveland Browns will be involved in the DeShaun Watson trade rumors and I think they are the favorites. I could potentially see an NBA Style trade between the Houston Texans and the Cleveland Browns. I can see the Browns offer Baker Mayfield, 2 first-round picks, and 2 pick swaps in the 1st or 2nd round for the entire contract of DeShaun Watson. Now if it was me I would give Baker another season as he did get hurt and the o-line had a ton of issues this season. However, It will be something to keep an eye on in the offseason.