For a while, I thought I was watching the Cleveland Browns of 2017 or early in the season in 2018.
It sure didn’t seem like 2019, a team expected to be loaded with talent and one that could reach the playoffs for the first time in a long time.
The opening drive for the Browns was a high point, one of the only real high points of the opening game. The Browns ran eight plays, going 73 yards resulting in a touchdown. Quarterback Baker Mayfield looked great and the team looked like a real team.
It didn’t take long for things to start going downhill as the Browns missed the extra point on the touchdown. Not long into the second quarter penalties began adding up.
By halftime, the Browns already had seven penalties for 81 yards.
Think that was bad? It got worse.
By the end of the game, the Browns had committed 18 penalties for 182 yards. Don’t adjust your screen, you heard that right, 18 penalties. The last time the Browns did that, 1951.
The second half was ugly, embarrassing and downright pathetic.
Final score: Titans 43, Browns 13.
You heard that right, the Browns lost their home opener by 30 points.
You could say it was one of the worst opening games since 1999. It’s a game many people want to forget including head coach Freddie Kitchens. It wasn’t a good day to be Kitchens and the 18 penalties fall on him.
Kitchens hasn’t been tough enough with the team nor prepared them for a real game. The opening game almost looked like the preseason continued.
Bottom line, Kitchens has plenty to improve on, the offensive line needs work and Mayfield has plenty to work on himself. Going into the season many felt the offensive line could be one of the biggest weaknesses and so far that is turning out to be true. Mayfield had three interceptions and seemed like he was rushing many of his plays. He finished 25 of 38 for 285 yards.
The Browns were 1 of 10 on third down, which didn’t help the offense one bit. Kitchens seemed like he didn’t want to run the ball, especially on third and short, which was troubling.
The biggest losers of all on opening day were the fans who attended to see an excitement-filled game and ended up leaving with a popped balloon. All the hype and build-up for what was supposed to be a really good team never happened.
Let’s not start a dumpster fire after one week though because what went wrong can be corrected. Hopefully, the adjustments will be done sooner rather than later as the Browns prepare for Monday night football against the Jets and then Sunday night football against the Rams.
The Browns have talent, there is no doubt about it. This opening game proved though that talent isn’t everything. You need strong coaching, no penalties combined with talent.
The season is young and things can turnaround quick. Adjustments are a must otherwise fans are going to be in for yet another long season of losing.
Eric Poston can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org