The Cleveland Browns were the sexy pick by many to come out of the AFC North over the course of the summer and leading into the regular season. Fast-forward a few months later and they are not only on the outside looking in of the division, but the playoffs altogether.
To make matters worse, a lot of Cleveland’s problems appear self-inflicted. They’ve surrendered a league-high 926 penalty yards on 99 calls against them (ranking fifth highest in the NFL). The play-calling has been suspect on both sides of the ball, particularly with offseason prize Odell Beckham Jr., who hasn’t been utilized to his fullest potential through Week 13. For reference, Beckham has fewer receiving touchdowns than Saints backup quarterback Taysom Hill.
Because of all these issues, you do need to look at the top with head coach Freddie Kitchens. Despite being in his first full season as the Browns head coach, it doesn’t appear out of the realm of possibility that organization pulls the plug on him this early into his tenure, especially after Cleveland fell to 5-7 on the season — losing to the Steelers team that is on its third-string quarterback.
Even though the seat is getting hotter, Freddie Kitchens doesn’t appear to be sweating it.
“No, I am not,” he told reporters during a lengthy Monday press conference when he was asked if he’s concerned about his job security.
Not only was the Browns loss to Pittsburgh a crushing blow to their playoff chances, but it also shined a bad light on Kitchens. Prior to the matchup, the head coach was spotted Myles Garrett taking quarterback Mason Rudolph’s helmet off and hitting him over the head with it., referencing the melee between the Browns and Steelers that featured defensive end
“I had a jacket over it so I should not have extended my arm to take the picture,” Kitchens said of the shirt. “That is what I should not have done.”
He probably also shouldn’t have donned the shirt altogether — but to each his own. Following the win on Sunday, Steelers players noted that seeing Kitchens in that shirt was bulletin-board material to motivate them for the game.
“Yes, of course. If that is what they take as motivation, of course, I am disappointed,” he continued. “I know (Steelers Head Coach) Mike (Tomlin) very well. They are motivated by more than just a t-shirt. We had a lot on the line there for that game, and I do not think that t-shirt put them over the top. Now, that is being strictly honest for you.”
While the Browns are not mathematically eliminated from postseason contention just yet, they are not doing themselves any favors by losing to lesser talented teams. The more they continue to fall on their faces by forgetting to tie their shoelaces, the more Kitchens should be nervous about getting the ax in Cleveland.