There was, for some odd reason, a sensation of optimism and hope inside of the Cleveland Browns organization and locker room heading into last Sunday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. With a win, Cleveland would have secured a season sweep of their biggest rival and potentially even positioned themselves to enter the postseason race.
Fueled by an ambitious offseason strategy that included the acquisitions of players such as Odell Beckham, Jr., Sheldon Richardson, and Olivier Vernon, and building off of the 5-2 run on which they ended the 2018 season, many believed this would be the year that they finally start winning. They were even the odds-on offseason favorite to win the AFC North along betting lines. Now they’ve all but secured third place.
Richardson, before the game, said that it was time for a ‘new captain’ in the AFC North—ignoring the fact that the ‘captain’ is clearly the 10-2 Baltimore Ravens. After the game, he remained determined to fight for every win, yet was clearly humbled.
As you might guess, a look behind the scenes isn’t pretty, at least as it is portrayed by the local media—in this case, Mary Kay Cabot and Cleveland.com, specifically. Shortly after Beckham gave a rambling answer in which he essentially declined to say that he was committed to Cleveland, she had some interesting things to say.
“Odell Beckham Jr.’s exceptional talent has been wasted this season in what multiple sources describe as a dysfunctional Browns offense”, she wrote. Mike Florio tried to connect some dots and suggest that the source was Jarvis Landry or a member of his camp, or perhaps both receivers, who have been skipping obligatory media availability sessions in recent weeks.
“Beckham is floundering on an offense multiple sources consider poorly designed and poorly run”, she went on to write. “The sources believe it won’t succeed in the future unless changes are made in terms of coaching, scheme or playcalling”.
That really zeroes in on Freddie Kitchens, who is not only in his first season as head coach, but is also their playcaller. He rose to prominence as interim offensive coordinator for their second-half ride last season, but many have questioned his readiness to be a head coach this year.
Cabot also noted that Landry had a sideline blowup with the team’s quarterback’s coach. She heavily played up the angle of the Browns having a superstar receiving talent that they’re squandering. She should probably look up the New York Giants’ record while he was there.