J.D. Bagley, @jdbagley5
The Browns capped off their already underachieving 2019 season with a double-digit loss to the worst team in the NFL, the Cincinnati Bengals. It was the perfect ending that encapsulated this disastrous year into 1 game. Nick Chubb had just 13 carries with rain being a factor, Baker Mayfield threw 3 interceptions, and the defense gave up 179 yards on the ground.
The Cleveland defense has been atrocious over the last 4 weeks, allowing an average of 434.5 yards per game while losing 3 of 4 by double digits. Tackling has been a huge issue for this team down the stretch and that didn’t change in the final game of the season as Joe Mixon ran for 162 yards and 2 TDs. While I have been encouraged by the play of Juston Burris, safety is a position of need heading into 2020 and must be addressed by whoever happens to be making the decisions this offseason.
Although Mayfield ended the day with 3 interceptions and several other poor throws, he did make a few excellent passes, notably, the touchdowns to Ratley, Landry, and Beckham were all neatly placed. Baker had pressure in his face all game long behind his porous offensive line that graded bottom 10 in the NFL this year according to Pro Football Focus. He will finish the season completing 59.4% of his passes for 3,827 yards, 22 TD’s and 21 INTs. This is not what people were expecting out of him this year after he was the second most popular bet to win league MVP before the season.
Nick Chubb, who was the NFL’s leading rusher heading into the week, was surpassed during the late afternoon window of games by Derrick Henry as he ran for 211 yards to secure the rushing title. With the Browns eliminated from playoff contention, you’d expect the coaching staff to ensure that Chubb at least had the opportunity to finish the season on top. 13 carries for a 1,400-yard rusher in a game in which it rained the entirety of is not ideal for several reasons.
The season ended in such disappointment that the Haslam’s didn’t even wait until Black Monday to relieve Freddie Kitchens of his head coaching duties. Cleveland will now be searching for its 4th coach in 4 years if you include last year’s interim head coach Gregg Williams. The incompetence of this organization strikes once again, but I believe it had to be done. There’s no reason to go into 2020 with Kitchens as your head coach for the sole purpose of not wanting to admit the hire was a mistake in the first place. Wipe the slate clean and start over. This roster is ready to win now with many skilled, young players on cheap deals. Finding the right coach this time around is key.
If I am leading this search, my number one priority is to find someone who can handle a locker room full of young players and outspoken personalities. Freddie Kitchens had never been a head coach at any level of football before this season, and going with another unproven leader could cripple the Browns chances to win with this roster full of talent.
Here is a list of coaches the Browns have requested to interview for the vacancy:
Josh McDaniels (New England OC)
Robert Saleh (San Francisco DC)
Mike McCarthy (Former Green Bay HC)
Brain Daboll (Buffalo OC)
Greg Roman (Baltimore OC)
Mike LeFleur (San Francisco passing game coordinator)
Mike McDaniel (San Francisco run game coordinator)
Matt Rhule (Baylor HC) *declined interview*
My dream scenario was to hire Ron Rivera, but he quickly agreed to a deal to become the head coach of the Washington Redskins. With Rivera out of the picture, my current frontrunner is Mike McCarthy. He is one of the few listed that has head coaching experience and was successful in doing so, winning Super Bowl XLV with the Green Bay Packers. Hiring a coach with experience is a must in my book.
Although McCarthy was basically run out of Green Bay due to his broken relationship with Aaron Rodgers, I believe Cleveland would be more than satisfied to receive the stability that he can bring to the organization. This franchise has been so bad for so long, there’s no reason to swing for the fences with this coaching hire. If you go with one of these coordinators with no previous head coaching experience, you present a wide range of outcomes. Sure, it could turn out to be an amazing hire. But this franchise is in no position to be taking risks. McCarthy won’t be a splashy hire but please Mr. Haslam and Mr. Dorsey, for the sake of the organization and city, bring winning football back to Cleveland.