The Cleveland Browns are off to a devastating 0-4 start, but it’s how we have lost these games. Duke Johnson said it best after the loss to the Washington Redskins, “That’s what’s most upsetting: We’re knocking on the door…We’re just not finishing.” Now, I’m not going to say that the Browns should have won those games, but they very easily could have a 3-1 record right now.
It started with the home opener against the Baltimore Ravens. Everything went in Cleveland’s favor for pretty much the entire first quarter. On their first possession, the Browns orchestrated an excellent drive that resulted in a touchdown. After forcing a punt, it took just one play to reach the end zone as Isaiah Crowell broke out for an 85 yard rush. The momentum continued when Joe Haden picked off Joe Flacco and the offense took over with great field position. Cleveland scored again as Corey Coleman and Josh McCown connected for the second time that afternoon.
That’s when it happened. Baltimore blocked the extra point and converted it for two points. Cleveland never scored again and shamefully lost 25-20. They couldn’t sustain drives and took some ill-advised risks. I love McCown’s heart, but he probably shouldn’t have finished that game with a broken collarbone. Not to mention, you could have leaned on the running game more.
The next test was in Miami versus the Dolphins as Cody Kessler started his first game in his career. The rookie managed a great game, especially after two early sack fumbles. It’s the small errors that come back to haunt you. Newly acquired kicker Cody Parkey already missed two field goals before attempting the game-winner.
Now before that field goal attempt, Cleveland had one timeout left and 20 seconds on the clock. The opted to kneel and set up for the field goal and we all know the fatal result. Personally, I felt the Browns could have at least tried to run the ball. Best case, they gain some yards. Worst case, they get stuffed at the line, but attempt to get to the right hashtag. Parkey missed left on his two previous kicks.
These mistakes cost the Browns games. We shoot ourselves in the foot time and time again. It happened in the Redskins game, too.
After quickly falling behind by two touchdowns, Cleveland turned things around to tie the game and even took the lead. While securing a three-point lead in the second half, the errors started occurring. Malcolm Johnson fumbled, killing a beautiful drive that probably would have resulted in a Cleveland touchdown. On the next two drives, Duke Johnson coughed up the ball and Cody Kessler was picked off by the defense.
Ultimately, the team is digging its own grave. Cleveland just needs to get back to the basics and develop good tendencies. Practicing good sportsmanship should be simple enough. Terrelle Pryor has been flagged twice for this offense, although one is debatable, it’s the one that cost us the Ravens game.
Discipline is important and should be emphasized because penalties are killing this team. The Browns are the seventh most penalized offense and the defense is 14th. Timely flags have killed offensive drives, but kept them going on the other side of the ball, too. If Cleveland just plays solid, clean football, then I believe they could have won those games and down the road as well.