The Cleveland Browns lost in another excruciating way on Sunday, falling to 2-4 on the season as they head into the bye week. The season as a whole has been a rollercoaster ride with more downs than ups to this point. With the expectations coming into the season, these first six weeks have been as frustrating as any other Browns season, but for different reasons. This time it’s not because we don’t have talent, but because we do have the talent to compete and we are still suffering the insufferable loses. Most of the loses are coming due to self-inflicted wounds that are submarining the successes the team was having in each game. The start of the season has been a disappointment based on our preseason views, but I think we all need a breather and not go farther than that. It is not time to make definitive opinions.
First off, I think we all had (including me) too many expectations early on for this team. I think we all thought that all this talent would come together quickly and with ease. But, that was an incredibly hard feat to do especially against the very tough beginning part of the schedule. The Browns have had so many new parts on both sides of the ball and an entirely whole new coaching staff. That means everyone is learning a new system and new teammates. Those things take time. And, the Browns had no leeway to try and develop these new things. They were thrown into the fire against one of the toughest beginning of the year schedules in the league. The combined record of their first six opponents is 20-14. For a team trying to implement new players and schemes, that is a rough way to begin their infancy together.
The other aspect we forget about is how young this team. The Browns have the third-youngest roster in the NFL, according to phillyvoice.com. So, not only are the players developing as a team, but they are also still developing as players. Cleveland is relying on really young players to lead their team at important positions, including quarterback. But, the youth also goes to the head coaching spot with Freddie Kitchens. Kitchens is in his first year as a head coach at any level and just his second year in a position to call plays. He is still trying to find his balance and stride as a coach and play-caller. Like many young coaches, we will see early mistakes given their newness to the expanded responsibilities that come with the head coaching position. Add in that, he is also relatively new in play-calling, the expectations of Kitchens were way too high from the start. Like young players, young coaches have to have time to develop. We as Browns fans should know this by now.
Are these excuses for the Browns’ horrible discipline and rollercoaster performance thus far? No. But, they are reasons to let this team breath and develop before we make definitive answers on what the players and the team are going forward.
Let’s take quarterback Baker Mayfield for example. He has struggled in the first six weeks of the season. There is no denying that. But, guess what. This is a second-year quarterback with only 19 starts under his belt. He is learning a new system and playing with a few new players that are instrumental to the offense. He is also facing growing pains from his play-caller, which in turn is affecting him. And, he is also dealing with an offensive line, who has not given him a lot of confidence that he will not get hit. This all leads to what we are seeing today, a struggling young quarterback. But, to dismiss all the things we saw from his college career and rookies season over six games, facing this amount adversities, is grossly unwise. Take a breather. Let him learn and develop with the rest of this young team.
And, about the prospects of this season. As I stated earlier, the Browns faced a rough early schedule that will continue in their next game versus the New England Patriots. However, following this stretch, seven of the nine teams they face to end the season have two or fewer wins so far this year. There is an opportunity to make a big run.
Am I saying that the Browns will turn this around and be the team who we all expected them to be? No. I cannot predict or say that given what we have seen so far. But, I can say that we need to give this team time. Do not jump ship. Take a breather. This team has the talent to win a lot of games. That is still unchanged.