CLEVELAND, Ohio – On Saturday afternoon, Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb was sworn in. The previous Monday night, the Cleveland Browns were “kicked out” of the NFL playoffs after losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in their ninth loss in a season they were to be Super Bowl contenders and champions. division at the very least.
It was actually Mayor Bibb’s second swearing-in on Saturday afternoon. He was first sworn in shortly after midnight on January 3. A swearing-in ceremony then took place at the Public Auditorium on Saturday. Due to concerns over the pandemic, the event was broadcast live with around 100 people in attendance.
The Cleveland Browns and the “dawg pound” probably swear and wish they could also have a recovery like Mayor Bibb. A season to redo or at least one winnable game they lost, the Steelers game on Monday night.
Had the obviously poor performing Mayfield been benched after the first quarter or at the latest, half-time, the Browns would have won the game, the division and prepared for a playoff game this week.
After finishing last season 11-5; beat the Steelers in the first round of the playoffs; losing a close game to the Kansas City Chiefs in the second round; then by improving their defense in the offseason, the Browns were seen as legitimate Super Bowl contenders this season.
Instead, the Browns finished 8-9, third in the AFC North Division, barely edging the Baltimore Ravens in last place. The Bengals and Steelers are expected to finish in the bottom two, finished in the top two with playoff spots.
The poor performances of 2020 Coach of the Year Kevin Stefanski, quarterback Baker Mayfield and offensive scoring ability were unexpected.
While the defense had a tough start to the season, it improved to the championship level, which made the situation all the more aggravating as the offense stalled.
Mayfield ended up being one of the lowest rated QBs in the NFL. He had been hampered by an injury at week 2, a torn labrum on his left shoulder and an injury at week 6, a broken humerus bone. Injuries forced him to wear a shoulder brace the rest of the season.
While the shoulder injury certainly explains and excuses its inaccuracy, does it also excuse its routine poor decision-making? I do not think so. A typical scenario happened during the Steelers’ last game. Mayfield had an open receiver about 7-10 yards away, instead he threw it at a tightly covered double receiver and was intercepted.
If Mayfield had always been precise you could understand that Stefanski didn’t want to put Case Keenum on, but Mayfield was horrible in the first quarter and it was obvious he was far from his game. He had a long string of incompleteness that were mainly due to his bad throws.
Mayfield has been sacked nine times. After the game, he complained that the rookie’s right tackle wasn’t getting enough help. Mayfield was right, but he also wasn’t getting enough help from Mayfield who regularly kept the ball too long.
Stefanski’s decision-making has been as bad as Mayfield’s this season. The Steeler’s game was once again a prime example. He has an injured quarterback who plays poorly and he doesn’t shoot him even when that injured quarterback is sacked 9 times risking further damage to the injured shoulder.
Mayfield has already proven his tenacity several times in 4 seasons. No one doubts it. But by not making him sit down earlier in the game and the season, Stefanski was only hurting the team and Mayfield, doing him no favors.
In the second half of the season, in talks with ESPN, Mayfield spoke of having to deal with “tough” internal issues and “fixing” some internal relationships. He then complained about the lack of adjustments in the game. Do the Browns need Dr. Phil or a new QB coach?
Last season, Mayfield had already proven himself to be a good quarterback, finishing in the 10. What he has yet to show is that he can be a great quarterback. Maybe he can, but he hasn’t proven it yet, despite the opportunities. He’s yet to show he can pull off a clutch win or a fourth quarter comeback, for example.
There is already talk of the fact that the Browns’ first choice must be a deep threat receiver. Stefanski and Mayfield had one at Odell Beckham Jr. and what did they do? Beckham’s success with the Rams proves that the problem at Cleveland really had more to do with Mayfield and Stefanski’s offense than he did.
The only potential quarterbacks available who would be an upgrade to a healthy Mayfield would be Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson. But the Browns should probably give up on someone really good at a craft, the caliber of Kareem Hunt, not a bust like Austin Hooper.
The acquisition of Kirk Cousins is only worth considering because Stefanski trained him with the Vikings. Mitchell Trubisky’s signing for development could be worth it if it can be revived with better coaching.
The players now have their exit talks with Stefanski. When Stefanski has his “exit interview” with his bosses, you have to ask him what he is going to do to improve his game, game plans and adjustments, discipline (penalties) and vision of the field / taking of. Mayfield decision.
Cleveland football fans are now being left behind for the old Cleveland-LA-St. Louis, LA Rams with former Detroit quarterback and Odell Beckham Jr. GO CAVS & GUARDIANS !!