Who's to blame for Browns woes? ESPN 'First Take' guys have three different answers
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- ESPN "First Take" host Molly Qerim asked regulars Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman along with guest Ryan Clark what the Browns' biggest problem is so far this season and got three different answers.
"Coaching," Smith said without hesitation. "I don't dislike the prospect of Freddie Kitchens, but I think it's important to point out he's a first-year head coach. And he looks like one. Some play calling issues, clearly a problem. Penalties on the part of the team, clearly a problem."
In terms of those playcalling issues, Smith was referring to two questionable sequences by Kitchens during the the team's 20-13 loss to the Rams Sunday night in which he called an ill-fated draw on 4th and 9 with the Browns trailing by four with nine minutes to go, and later, when he opted to not run the ball once when the Browns had it first and goal from the 4-yard-line and a chance to tie with less than a minute to play.
"The coach's job is to put you in the best situation to win and there have been several occasions in the first three weeks of this NFL season where Freddie Kitchens has not done that. That does not mean that he won't correct it, it doesn't mean that he won't get better. But, clearly, I think when you look at a lot of NFL coaches, the experience factor is more flagrant in Cleveland than it is in most cities. You have a first-year head coach and he looks like one."
Kellerman, however, put the blame on the shoulders of the Browns second-year quarterback.
"I love Baker Mayfield, but he is regressing," Kellerman, who just last week called the Browns a Super Bowl contender. "He's not seeing open receivers. He's bailing, which I'm a little bit surprised by given his personality. He's bailing on plays and kind of like improv[ising] before he needs to. He's not processing the information quickly enough or is a little bit jittery, too scared in the moment to calm down and actually see it.
"He had a chance to win that game at the end or at least tie and he blew it."
Clark agreed that Mayfield is regressing, but pointed the finger at new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Though Kitchens still calls the plays, he's had to hand over the day-to-day handling of the offense to Monken because of his added duties as head coach.
"We watched Jameis Winston regress when Todd Monken was his offensive coordinator. You look at Jameis Winston the last two games and now he looks like a player," Clark said, eliciting an "ooh" from Smith.
"This regression with Baker Mayfield is real. It's a huge part of why this team isn't winning. He is bailing. But he's bailing because he's not protected. He's bailing because guys aren't getting open. So, when you have all these things that are going down, it's about the day-to-day implementation of strategy and scheme."
The 1-2 Browns have a tough schedule in front of them with the Ravens, 49ers and Seahawks before facing the Patriots after the bye-week. Still, Kellerman, who has been on the Browns bandwagon since the offseason, thinks Mayfield is "going to be fantastic by the end of this year and the Browns are going to be okay."
So, there you have it.
The Cleveland Browns offensive woes to start the 2019 season has created curiosity about what's to blame, but the offensive line is far from the issue. The Cleveland Browns are still looking to find their
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