J.D. Bagley, @jdbagley5
After falling to the AFC’s top seeded Baltimore Ravens yesterday in their home finale, the Browns are now officially eliminated from playoff contention. It's become a weekly occurrence that Freddie Kitchens and his coaching miscues hold this team from reaching its full potential. But while Kitchens isn’t the only problem in Cleveland, he deserves a sizeable chunk of the blame for this underwhelming season the Browns have put together.
Cleveland didn’t play well at all, as it was Baltimore’s mistakes that kept the Browns hanging around in this one until late. Towards the end of the 1st quarter, Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram were unable to complete a clean exchange, leading to a turnover in their own territory. On the ensuing drive the Ravens defense forced an interception that was negated due to a defensive holding call on the opposite side of the field, gifting the Browns a first down. Later in that drive on 4th and 1, Baker Mayfield was able to draw them offsides to gain another first down. Then, on 3rd down inside the 15, Odell Beckham drew contact in the end zone giving the Browns another chance. It took all these mistakes in the same sequence from Baltimore for Cleveland to put points on the board in the first half.
Mid way through the 4th quarter the Browns faced 4th and goal from the 6, and once again it was a defensive penalty away from the play that kept the drive alive. Baker found Beckham in the back of the endzone on the next play.
Point being, had the Ravens not shot themselves in the foot repeatedly, this game wouldn’t have been close.
Cleveland’s defense held Baltimore scoreless through the first 28 minutes of the game before surrendering two touchdowns in the final 90 seconds of the 1st half, all while the Ravens had no timeouts left. Coverage busts, easy completions, and poor clock management by Kitchens led to the 14 point swing. The Browns never recovered.
Baltimore’s run game was dominant throughout the day, totaling 243 yards and averaging over 6 per carry. Lamar Jackson eclipsed 100 rushing yards for the 5th time this season, while the backs Ingram, Edwards, and Hill combined for 140.
Of course, the Browns couldn’t escape the week without another negative headline. Following an unsuccessful two point conversion, Odell Beckham was visibly upset with Freddie Kitchens as the two exchanged words on the sideline. Repeated disputes have made it clear that Kitchens has lost respect from many players in the locker room. Bringing him back in 2020 would be a fatal move by the Haslam’s and John Dorsey.
With just 1 game left in 2019, Browns fans just want this year to end. A season full of disappointment and frustration has kept them out of the playoffs once again. Hopefully this team can put together a solid performance against 1-win Cincinnati to cap the year and head into the offseason with at least something positive to build on. But with how this year has gone for the Browns, I wouldn’t put anything past them.