Browns still sliding after sloppy, penalty-filled loss to NE

New England Patriots defensive tackle Adam Butler, second from left, sacks Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass.

Browns General Manager John Dorsey has been given a pass for the most part, since he took over the reins of the franchise. Quarterback Baker Mayfield’s performance last year bought him plenty of time, along with the firing of Hue Jackson.

But now, as Mayfield has struggled – despite showing signs of a return from his sophomore slump – Freddie Kitchens, Jackson’s replacement, comes with more questions than answers. I know Kitchens feels he got the head coaching job because of his outstanding work last year as offensive coordinator, but there was no reason to add play calling to his role. The head coaching job is way too big for a first-year coach, and I don’t know how Dorsey let Kitchens talk him into it, other than it stemming from Dorsey’s desire to have total control of football operations of the team.

The Browns’ Oct. 27, 27-13 loss to the undefeated New England Patriots was so much worse than the final score indicated. Give the Browns credit for not giving up, but there was no real reason to keep the battered Mayfield in the game until the end. Can you imagine a major injury to the quarterback as the clock ran down? There is a time and a place for everything. Perhaps some of that extra time could have been used on practicing discipline, especially along the offensive line.

While I have long ago given into reality, it is still sometimes hard to believe the Bill Belichick I watched, talked to and met with from 1991 to 1995 is the same guy who has joined George Halas and Don Shula as the only NFL head coaches to win 300 games.

Belichick’s first win came with Cleveland, ironically in his second game beating the Patriots. He reversed that with his 300th win, this time against the Browns. I have always wondered how the 1995 Browns would have done had the word of the move to Baltimore not happened. The Browns came into the season as favorite to win their division after qualifying for the playoffs the year before. They started off well in 1995 and then the rumors hit. Imagine players not knowing where their families were going to be, and with nonstop questions from local and national media.

Over time I hear people complain the media and fans got Belichick fired. Nothing could be further from the truth. When owner Art Modell took his team to Baltimore, his coach was Belichick. Once he got there it became obvious he would be a public relations disaster in his new city. So once the move was secured, Modell hired Baltimore favorite Ted Marchibroda to guide the ship.

Would Belichick have won at least two Super Bowls under Modell, as Brian Billick and John Harbaugh did? It is accurate to say Modell fired perhaps the two greatest coaches ever, Belichick and Paul Brown, and gave Jim Brown, the greatest running back ever, an ultimatum that prevented Brown from leaving his movie set to return to training camp.

Hall of Fame voters, please remember that when the expanded vote takes place this year.


Read Les Levine online at cjn.org/Levine. Follow Les at Facebook.com/ClevelandJewishNews.

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