This morning the Cleveland Browns woke up with a 10-5 record. If you hadn’t been paying attention to Browns much this season, or if you had read that back in August projecting what it would feel like as a fan of this great storied franchise, you’d probably be doing cartwheels or running around the house screaming in joy about now! Let that sink in. The Browns are a good football team. They got to this point in the season because of good play by their players and playing fundamental ball. That comes from good coaching which rookie Browns coach Kevin Stefanski has brought to this new winning culture of Browns football.
That’s the good news and shouldn’t be lost on what stands in front of the Browns this morning, a rather tall but attainable task when they line up against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday down at First Energy Stadium. If the Browns beat the Steelers Sunday, they will go to the playoffs for the first time in almost 20 years.
The tough part to try and get over for the Browns will be to try and erase from their memories the disappointing loss to the New York Jets yesterday. We all know the back story here…
That the Jets had only won one game and really had nothing to play for. But we also know that those games can be real mental games for teams that are on paper the better team, but still manage to lose because they falter in their own mental head games. That’s what happened Sunday to the Browns.
After the Browns learned Saturday that they would be without their entire wide receiving group, plus two starting linebackers on defense for COVID protocol and two offensive linemen for other medical reasons, I can’t imagine that the Browns coaches and players weren’t affected by that news, like it affected its fanbase. The Browns coaches, nor the players used that as an excuse for the loss. They shouldn’t but we all know that it did.
For the first half of yesterday’s game, the Browns offense did nothing. Coach Stefanski had Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield throwing the ball instead of relying on their usual strong run game and backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The Browns defense gave up two touchdowns in the half. The second one came right after a Mayfield fumble.
The Browns made a good comeback in the second half and made it a game late, but again, Mayfield fumbled the ball deep in Jets territory with just over a minute remaining to squander a chance to tie the game.
Mayfield and Stefanski both made no excuses after the game. Mayfield put the loss completely on his shoulders saying, “There’s no excuse. I put three balls on the ground. Just hold onto the damn ball. I failed this team. We had exactly what we needed to win this game and I didn’t do good enough.” Stefanski went further saying, “We got beat today. I got outcoached and we got outplayed. We did the things we can’t do, minus 2 in turnover battle, penalties, drops, not good. Credit to the Jets.”
The Browns and coach Stefanski have all been about winning the week and going 1-0. The Browns haven’t lost two games in a row all season. There are several possible scenarios for the Browns to make the playoffs, but the simplest one is to go out and win the week and go 1-0.
Like all of you, this week will be tough to stay focused because we are all true Browns fans and love our Brownies. Stay positive and know that these Browns are different than your “same old Browns”. And remember the Browns have already won 10 games with a rookie coach, during a global pandemic and have been challenged every week with something new. Expect that to not change going into next Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh.