Had Browns Coach Freddie Kitchens beat the Baltimore Ravens for the second time this year, there would have been a case to keep his job.
Instead, he displayed one of the worst moments of his coaching career before halftime.
With under two minutes to go before the half and the Browns up 6-0, the Browns not only allowed Baltimore to score once but twice.
Halftime score: Baltimore 14, Cleveland 6.
It gave a whole new meaning to getting punched in the gut. Now I know Kitchens wasn’t playing in the game and didn’t give up the 14 points, the defense did, but Kitchens’ actions led up to a huge momentum swing.
Prior to Baltimore scoring any points, the Browns had the ball third down and one from their own 28-yard line. Kitchens dialed up a “trick play”, one that failed miserably. The simple answer would have been to run the ball. Especially considering Baltimore had zero timeouts left.
But Kitchens doesn’t believe in running the ball.
Baltimore’s Quarterback Lamar Jackson had more rushing attempts than the Browns star running back Nick Chubb.
You heard that right, the quarterback had more rushing attempts than the running back.
Why Kitchens won’t use Chubb more is beyond me.
When Baltimore scored their first touchdown before halftime and the Browns got the ball back you would think they would just run the clock out.
But no, three passing plays and the Browns were forced to punt.
Baltimore went right down the field and scored again.
Just think the Browns could have led at half maybe 6-0. Or at least only been down 7-6.
Instead, it was 14-6.
It all went downhill from there as Kitchens once again made no halftime adjustments.
Final score: 31-15 as the Browns drop another game, which at a time it looked like they had a chance.
The odds the Browns would have beaten Baltimore were slim, but they lost and they lost badly. The score doesn’t tell the whole story, which has been the case for many games this season. Baltimore has won 11 games straight and is performing at a high level heading into the playoffs.
Yet again the Browns were not prepared, which has been the story almost every game this season. There is no doubt the Browns have other issues beyond coaching.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield is one of those problems.
He is struggling and playing bad making poor decisions at critical times. He has done nothing to prove he should be a franchise quarterback or even the quarterback of the future for the Browns. He threw another interception in the Baltimore game and had several other throws which could have resulted in additional interceptions.
Kitchens’ decision to go for two-points made no sense in the fourth quarter either. He could have gone for the extra point and made it an eight-point game. Instead, the two-point conversion failed and he found himself down nine.
I guess maybe he figured he could cut the lead to seven.
The bottom line the Browns are going to finish with a worse record than last year. There is no excuse at all for that. None. The schedule was supposed to be a “cakewalk” to finish the season, but the Browns managed to make it harder than it needed to be.
At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself if Kitchens has improved the Browns?
What positive has he done?
Are the Browns playing better than they were in week one?
The answer is pretty simple. The team has regressed and there is no case to give Kitchens another year. If the front office does decide to keep him, they risk the chance of throwing next season into the dumpster.
That is a risk not worth taking.