While the Pittsburgh Steelers did not have the season they anticipated in 2019, I think it’s fair to say that that holds true even more so for the Cleveland Browns. After all, they did fire just about damn near everybody from their front office and coaching staff, which is typically a dead giveaway that something went askew.
Largely unchanged, however, is the roster, and among the most prominent players over the course of the past two seasons has been Pro Bowl wide receiver Jarvis Landry. While he put up representative numbers with Baker Mayfield in 2019, the reality is they went 6-10 as a team, amid a ton of friction.
The team hired Freddie Kitchens to be the head coach in 2019, after he served half a season as interim offensive coordinator the year before and helped them finish on a 5-2 run. That, plus some significant offseason acquisitions, fueled an unrealistic dose of optimism for the team this past season, with some even giving them solid odds to win the Super Bowl, let alone being the betting favorite to win the division.
But Freddie got fingered after just one season, and the majority of the coaching staff was gutted, as was much of the front office as well. Now in is Kevin Stefanski as head coach, and Andrew Berry as general manager, with Alex Van Pelt as offensive coordinator, replacing Todd Monken, who may have been the unhappiest man in the entire organization.
Said Landry of last season’s experiences, during which he had multiple blow-ups on the sideline, “we just didn’t do everything it took to win and make in-game adjustments, We didn’t communicate well and it was frustrating”.
Given what transpired after the season, it’s obvious that a lot of the blame was placed on Kitchens, who had hardly even had play-calling experience heading into the year, yet retained those responsibilities for himself despite bringing aboard an experienced offensive coordinator.
“We didn’t have an identity”, he added of the woes of the team last season, perhaps particularly on offense. “We just couldn’t find a way to get on the same page, and that hurt us”. Injuries also hurt the team, as both Landry and Odell Beckam, Jr., dealt with issues the entire season.
Everyone is sounding rather optimistic about the future right now, but we’ve heard this all before. Until the Browns actually make it to the postseason, or at least post a non-losing record, it’s going to be hard to take them seriously, regardless of what talent they might have.