72°F
weather icon Clear

Kitchens, Mayfield leading Browns down the same-old road

Updated October 31, 2019 - 8:06 pm

All that flash, dash and commercial appeal — we interrupt this column for another Baker Mayfield ad — produced a lot of clicks in the offseason for a media starving for another New England-less storyline, but hasn’t amounted to much this season for the Cleveland Browns.

On Sunday in the House That Brady Built, the NFL Offseason Champions, a team that features Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, Baker Mayfield, Joel Bitonio, Myles Garrett, Sheldon Richardson, Olivier Vernon and Denzel Ward, all very good NFL players on both sides of the ball, lost 27-13 to fall to 2-5 on the season.

It’s certainly not a sin to lose to the defending champions and odds-on favorites to win another title. But the way the Browns did it was basically a microcosm of what has led them to this point. Namely, a head coach and a quarterback who got too much, too soon, and now the Browns are going to have to go through another costly reboot at some point unless things turn around quickly.

General manager John Dorsey, an NFL veteran with a great eye for talent (he was previously high up with the Packers and Chiefs), made a critical mistake in the offseason: He hired interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens to be the CEO of a football team when he previously ran the running backs’ room with all of five people in it.

Dorsey hired Kitchens because he liked his moxie — Dorsey loves players and coaches who, like himself, carry themselves in an old-school, cocksure way — and also because Mayfield loved Kitchens and his offensive system. To be sure, Kitchens does run a very nice scheme. But that doesn’t mean he’s head coach material.

What Dorsey should have done was get dysfunctional owner Jimmy Haslam to pay Kitchens enough to stay on as offensive coordinator and get a more experienced head coach. That would have given the Browns the best of both worlds and time to groom Kitchens.

Now, if Kitchens continues to look out of his depth as a head coach — for one example, the Browns lead the league in total penalties (88) despite playing one fewer game than the next 10 teams on the list (the Jets have 71 penalties in seven games) — then the Browns will have no choice but to go another direction.

Then, in all likelihood, they’ll lose Kitchens and his playbook as well, which means Mayfield will have his third head coach and offensive coordinator heading into his third season. Ask Marcus Mariota in Tennessee how five play-callers in five seasons worked out for him after being benched for Ryan Tannehill.

Then there’s Mayfield, who acted like a petulant child this week when asked legitimate questions by a hard-nosed reporter. This goes along with what Mayfield’s shown so far in the league — he thinks he’s arrived, thanks to endorsement deals and social media, before he’s done anything. He reads too many of his press clippings, both positive and negative.

“I am who I am and always have been,” Mayfield said on, you guessed it, Twitter. “Don’t call it emotional when it’s convenient and then passion when it fits. I care about winning, so yeah I’m frustrated.”

Mayfield was calm for the entire press conference but became agitated when the one reporter — who has been tough on Mayfield — started to ask questions. This tirade wasn’t about frustration or passion. It was about Mayfield being unprofessional because someone wrote unflattering things about him.

You’re not in Oklahoma anymore, Baker. Your Heisman carries zero currency in the NFL. Produce and win, then you can throw as many tantrums as you want and people will call you colorful. Until then, keep your rabbit eyes and ears on your playbook and your coaches.

The entirety of the Kitchens-Mayfield Browns experience was on display in the span of three fourth-quarter plays against the Patriots.

Trailing 27-10 with 6:42 to play, the Browns lined up for what amounted to their last shot on third-and-11 from their own 24-yard line.

Mayfield dropped back to pass from the shotgun and appeared to have found the weakness in the Patriots’ Death Star of a defense. The Patriots only had three players in coverage against the three receivers to the left of Mayfield, and this wasn’t an all-out blitz, which meant the Patriots had messed something up. The Browns further got a break when Patriots All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore turned the wrong way, leaving Beckham Jr. wide open for what could have been a 30-plus yard gain.

The one problem: Mayfield didn’t set his feet and drive the ball, and the pass sailed over the head of Beckham, who immediately snapped back at Mayfield in frustration.

On fourth-and-11, Kitchens sent the punt team out and took a deliberate false start instead of using his final timeout. The Browns’ offense then trotted back onto the field and tried to convert the fourth down from 5 yards farther back. (That was the Browns’ 12th penalty. The 13th would come later with a false start on fourth-and-1, which forced a field goal instead of a pass.)

Despite having Beckham open again, Mayfield was sacked for a 5-yard loss.

During the team’s bye week leading up to the Patriots game, Dorsey had touted the coaching staff’s ability to start a new, more disciplined course and Kitchens’ decision-making on fourth downs.

“What I did like is on fourth downs, I like the strategy and the courage that he used in terms of going for it at proper times,” Dorsey said of Kitchens. “That is good stuff right there.”

Good stuff? Not so much on Sunday against the Patriots.

That’s basically how you can sum up the Browns — offseason champs but in-season chumps — to this point.

Greg A. Bedard covers the NFL for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at gbedard@reviewjournal.com. Follow

@GregABedard on Twitter.

Don't miss the latest Raiders news. Like our Vegas Nation page
Raiders Videos
Injuries Persist as Raiders Prepare for Bengals - VIDEO
The Raiders have dealt with the injury bug all season and this week is no different. safety Karl Joseph has been placed on IR, and cornerback LaMarcus Joyner is awaiting an injury designation as the team prepares to take on the Cincinnati Bengals. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Bring in Safety D.J. Swearinger, Place Karl Joseph on IR - VIDEO
In Thursday's win against the Los Angeles Chargers, Raiders safety Karl Joseph was injured on the game clinching interception. The team placed Joseph on injury reserve and brought in D.J. Swearinger to help fill the gap. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Thanksgiving Set to Be Milestone Date for Allegiant Stadium, Raiders - Video
Thanksgiving will be a big day for Allegiant Stadium, the future home of the Raiders, as two major accomplishments are set to be hit by this date.
Raiders Win Second Thriller in 5 Days - VIDEO
The Raiders beat the Chargers 26-24 in the teams' second game in 5 days. The Raiders were able to stall Phillip Rivers and the Chargers offense in the final moments to seal the victory. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders' Short Week Ends In Victory, Beat Chargers 26-24
The Raiders beat the Chargers 26-24 in their second game in 5 days. Once again Karl Joseph and the Raiders defense came up big sealing, the game on an interception. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders' Defense Comes Up Big in Win Over Chargers, 26-24 - Video
The Raiders beat the Charges 26-24 in the Thursday Night Football divisional matchup. The defense played a huge part in the win, as safety Erik Harris nabbed two interceptions for his team including a pick-six. Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto and Vegas Nation podcast host Heidi Fang break down the win and how the defense really stepped up against a division rival.
Raiders aim to stay ahead in AFC West | Vegas Nation Red Zone
The 4-4 Raiders are coming off a 31-24 win against the Detroit Lions in what was the first of a three-game home-stand in Oakland. Up next, the Silver and Black will look to keep their spot in second in the AFC West as they face the Los Angeles Chargers (4-5) on a short week. The Chargers are also coming off of a win against the Green Bay Packers. The team was able to hold Aaron Rodgers and company to just 11 points and will look to build off of that performance. Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney and show host Heidi Fang give a preview of the matchup, recap the Raiders win over the Lions and give an update on injuries heading in to the Thursday game.
Allegiant Stadium, Raiders Announce Ford Dealers as the Official Automotive Partner - Video
Allegiant Stadium and the Raiders have announced that the Desert Ford Dealers will be the Official Vehicle of the Raiders when the team debuts in Las Vegas in 2020. There are five Ford dealerships in Las Vegas: Ford Country, Friendly Ford, Gaudin Ford, Rush Truck Center, and Team Ford. Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto and Stadium Insider Mick Akers discuss the partnership announcement, as well as find out if Raiders players will only be driving Fords in the future.
County Approves Allegiant Stadium Sign Proposal - Video
The Clark County Zoning Commission has approved the Raiders’ request for waivers to development standards for signs planned for Allegiant Stadium. Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto and Stadium Insider Mick Akers discuss the delays that led up to the approval, as well as speak to Raiders President Marc Badain about the news.
1-on-1 With Johnathan Abram: Halfway Through The Season - VIDEO
Guenther Hopes to Play Cornerback Isaiah Johnson - VIDEO
Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther hopes to play cornerback Isaiah Johnson in Johnson's first game back from IR. Quarterback Derek Carr said he is glad to have wide receiver Tyrell Williams to throw to.
Short Week of Preparation Begins for Raiders - VIDEO
The Raiders hosted their only media availability on Tuesday as the team prepares to take on Joey Bosa and the Los Angeles Chargers.
Jon Gruden on Thursday Night Football - VIDEO
During his press conference on Monday, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden spoke out about teams having to play in Thursday Night Football games.
Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden Speaks Ahead of Short Practice Week - VIDEO
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden addressed the media ahead of the team's short practice week before they take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.
Raiders release Brandon Marshall, Gruden Discusses Injuries and Short Practice Week - VIDEO
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden announced on Monday that the team has once again released linebacker Brandon Marshall in order to activate rookie cornerback Isaiah Johnson. Gruden also discussed the injuries currently plaguing the team, his "hate" for Thursday Night Football and how it affects the team. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Late Game Heroics Help Raiders Beat Lions 31-24 - VIDEO
The Raiders were able to hold off the Detroit Lions 31-24 after a late game defensive stop from Safety Karl Joseph
Raiders Youthful Depth and Veteran Experience Key in Victory Over Lions- VIDEO
Raiders tight end Darren Waller, wide receiver Hunter Renfrow and safety Karl Joseph react to Sunday's victory over the Lions. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Hold On Against Lions in Home Return - VIDEO
The Raiders played their first home game since week two on Sunday, defeating the Lions 31-24 after a defensive stop in the final seconds of the game. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Return Home to Beat Lions, 31-24 - Video
After five road games and over 27,000 miles traveled, the Raiders returned to the Coliseum to beat the Lions 31-24 on Sunday afternoon. Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto and Vegas Nation podcast host Heidi Fang discuss their three takeaways from the game.
Raiders Finish Preparations for the Lions - VIDEO
The Raiders practice week concluded Friday, and the team is set to return home to RingCentral Coliseum after their lengthy road trip. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders' Centers Rodney Hudson and Andre James Questionable for Sunday - VIDEO
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said Friday after practice that Andre James and Rodney Hudson were both sore during practice and will be listed as questionable heading into Sundays game against the Lions. (LeAndre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
How Raiders Need to Prepare For Lions After Texans Loss | Vegas Nation Red Zone - Video
The Raiders continue to struggle against elite-level quarterbacks and lost to the Texans last week. The Raiders finally return to the RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland to face off against the Lions. Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney and host Heidi Fang go over what the Raiders need to do to guarantee a win against the Lions.
Raiders Glad to Bring Back Brandon Marshall, Josh Jacobs Named AFC Offensive Rookie of the Month - VIDEO
With multiple injuries at the position the Raiders are glad to bring back linebacker Brandon Marshall. Running back Josh Jacobs was named AFC Offensive Rookie of the Month. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Continuity in the Trenches Not an Issue For Derek Carr and the Raiders Offense - VIDEO
The Raiders offensive line has not yet been stable due to injuries and Richie Incognito's early season suspension, but the group has played so well that it hasn't been an issue for Derek Carr and the rest of the Offense. Linebacker Brandon Marshall is glad to be back with the team. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Make Roster Moves After Trade Deadline, Excited for Sunday's Coliseum Return - VIDEO
While they did not trade for anyone at Tuesday's trade deadline, the Raiders did sign linebackers Brandon Marshall and Will Compton, center Erik Magnuson and defensive tackle Terrell McClain. After six weeks on the road the team is ready to return home for Sunday's game against the Lions. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brandon Marshall Returns to Raiders, Both Rodney Hudson and Andre James Dealing With Injury - VIDEO
To help with injuries at the position the Raiders brought back linebacker Brandon Marshall. Marshall, a Las Vegas native, was with the team during training camp but was a part of the roster cuts. Both centers, Rodney Hudson and Andre James, are dealing with injuries, leading to the signing of Erik Magnuson. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders' Linebacker Injury Woes Continue as the Team Prepares For Coliseum Return - VIDEO
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden announced Monday that the team's linebacker group has suffered yet another injury with the loss of Justin Phillips for the season. While there are multiple injuries on the team, the linebackers have been affected the most. The Raiders are preparing this week to play at home for the first time in 6 weeks when they take on the Lions this Sunday. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders players say the team can learn from their loss to the Texans
After the team's 27-24 loss to the Texans, Raider players discuss what went right against Houston, what they can improve and the loss of center Rodney Hudson. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Nation: Raiders close out road trip with a loss to the Texans, 27-24
The Raiders lost to the Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston, 27-24, to close out a 5-game road trip that started in Minneapolis. Myles Simmons and Ed Graney break down where the Raiders fell short and what it means to their standings in the AFC West. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Fail To Get Win Against Texans - Video
The Raiders came close to victory against the Houston Texans but lost 24-27. Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and Quarterback Derek Carr react to the loss.
Personal seat licenses for Raiders almost sold out - VIDEO
Personal seat license sales (PSL) for the $2 billion 65,000 fan-capacity domed Allegiant Stadium are about 96 percent sold, with the sales process expected to wrap up by Thanksgiving. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Spend $28 Million on new parking areas - VIDEO
The Raiders have spent $28 million on new parking locations on Valley View Boulevard between Reno and Tropicana avenues. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Steel cables will hoist roof at Allegiant Stadium - VIDEO
Stainless steel cables are being put into place at Allegiant Stadium to begin the process of putting the roof on the 65,000-seat stadium in Las Vegas. Stadium Chief Operating Officer Don Webb explains how the cables will be used to get the roof put on the future home of the Raiders and UNLV football. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Johnathan Abram's wife on his "Hard Knocks" appearance
Johnathan Abram's wife thinks her husband was annoying on the first episode of the Raiders on HBO's "Hard Knocks."
Raiders Johnathan Abram On Moving to Las Vegas - Video
Raiders safety Johnathan Abram talks about the team moving to Las Vegas and how he is ready to bring his game to the desert in the new Allegiant Stadium.
Raiders Safety Johnathan Abram and Wife Bri'Anna On Being A Football Family - Video
Raiders safety Johnathan Abram and his wife Bri'Anna sit down to talk about being a football family and what it means for their daughter and how it changed their lifestyle.
THE LATEST
Crosby, Ferrell showed vast improvement vs. run in 2nd half

Much of the aggressiveness of Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell in the pass rush came at cost to the defense overall in the first half, as the Raiders’ run defense was so porous you wondered why the Chargers even allowed an obviously wild Philip Rivers to throw the ball at all. The good news: it was much better in the second half.