Midseason State of the Fans

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What should be done with Freddie?

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The Wizard of Moz

Punishing This Air
Jan 19, 2015
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Preseason Bliss

This NFL season was probably the most anticipated in the city of Cleveland in a decade. Sure, there were some head fakes with some excitement from the Trent Richardson’s, Brian Hoyer’s, and Johnny Manziel’s of the world. But this was a different kind of feeling. We were the NFL darlings and for the first time in a long time had a legitimate reason for hope and not just that “talking yourself into it” hope that gets you to believe that Mingo having the same weight as Von Miller proves positive that he isn’t too small to play in the NFL.

We were coming off a season in which our #1 overall pick franchise QB threw an NFL record 27 touchdown passes. A season in which his fellow rookie CB Denzel Ward made the pro bowl and Nick Chubb rushed for nearly 1,000 yards in under 200 carries. A season in which Myles Garrett erupted for 13.5 sacks (the second most in Cleveland Browns history) and started to look like he was going to make a run at DPOY sooner rather than later.

And if that wasn’t enough to have the city buzzing, we traded for the guy who has the second most receiving yards per game in NFL history in Odell Beckham.

Top that all off with a head coach who the franchise QB loved and was credited with turning the offense around in the second half of the season which saw us winning 5 of our last 7 games.

The fan base couldn’t wait the whole offseason to see more. Playoff hopes were abundant and we were a popular dark horse contender for bettors and analysts alike.

So now fast forward to week 9, half-way through the NFL season, and things have played out about as poorly as we could have imagined. Let’s take a look at how things have changed.

Cleveland’s Most Wanted

While there has been debate over the role in this season’s terrible start that each position group played, most Browns fans are in agreement that Freddie Kitchens has been bad as a head coach. The disagreement comes in with the extent of “just how bad” and the following “so what do we do?”
At one end of the extreme there are fans that were calling for Freddie to be fired after the Patriots game with some even expecting it to happen. At the other end there are fans who think no matter how the season finished, Freddie is owed at least a start into the next season.

Freddie won over the hearts of many last season and this offseason. His ownership mentality, hard stance on leaking to the media, and avoidance of cliché coach speak was a welcomed breath of fresh air coming from the human/snake hybrid known as Hue Jackson. But the honeymoon phase was very short livedand Freddie has drawn the ire of most fans.

And it’s hard to blame any of the fans that are at their limit for patience with him. It is one thing to lose games because you are out talented or you just come up on the short end of running high probability plays, but that is not what we have seen so far this season. What we have seen are head scratching game day decisions paired with even more confusing explanations. How can a fan not be outraged when his favorite team’s head coach says that he ran out his punting unit to take an intentional false start on 4th and 11 just to send the offense back out on 4th and 16 in order to save a timeout! That isn’t normal logic so it’s very hard to rationalize. Even harder to believe that Freddie would openly admit to it.
There is a laundry list of examples of decisions that have made a portion of the fan base lose faith in Freddie. At this point he may or may not be on the hot seat for his job, but from a fan support point of view his seat is flaming hot. He is 7 games into his head coaching career and he is losing belief fast.

Buyer’s Remorse?

For as angry as fans are with Freddie, that is as surprised/confused as they are with Mayfield’s play this season. Mayfield had fans riding high all offseason with his brilliant rookie campaign in which we saw the best Browns QB play that we have seen since the return of the franchise. But after 7 games and a putrid statline which includes:

• Leading the NFL in interceptions
• Last in the NFL in completion percentage amongst qualifiers
• Second worst quarter back rating in the league narrowly edging out Sam Darnold

There has been some questioning of whether the title of franchise QB was prematurely anointed to Mayfield.

The issue of Freddie has people angry, but I think the issues that Mayfield has been having have people bummed out and confused. How is this the same guy that was picking defenses apart last year? We have had such a long and painful search for a franchise QB, the last thing any of us wanted to do is second guess our QB who played so well last year.

Highs and Lows

So, this article has been a little depressing to write, but just as I believe we were probably too high on the team in the preseason, I think fans are a little too low on them. After 3 straight losses its easy to get frustrated, but I think a lot of fans still see the future potential with this team. I think this team has the talent to dig themselves out of this current trough and have the fan base back to that excited state again soon. It all starts tomorrow afternoon when we go into Denver and can make a statement that these aren’t those “same old Browns.”


ace bandage ***el
Aug 25, 2008
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Put me in the group that thinks this season hasn't deviated too much from what could be expected. With the first half schedule as it was, 3-4 was a totally reasonably prediction. Only the 49er game and the Titan fourth quarter were abject disasters. The rest of the games were competitive, losses coming largely due to penalties, a few glaring mistakes, or both. This is a common theme for a young team. Coach has to be held largely responsible for a seeming lack of preparedness and urgency. Freddie says he doesn't teach penalties, but he is supposed to teach efficient football. He has the largest chunk of blame.
It was a mistake to put such a green coach in charge of the team, which I stated even before he was hired. If the front office loved Kitchens so much, he could have been named full-time OC and we could have used Bruce Arians as a place holder until Freddie was deemed ready. Kitchens might be the perfect HC for this team in two years, when both he and the team have matured. Clearly he wasn't ready at the start of the season.
This said, Kitchens is our man and will be next year unless he completely loses the team. With the second half schedule, the Browns should finish with between 7-10 wins. There's too much talent not to. And I pray that we do, we can't afford to get on an annual coach-hiring carousel again. Coach is Dorsey's man, change will come grudgingly and if Kitchens is let go, I'd expect the GM to be right behind him. We're all getting to old to go through that again.

Henry Tuttle

Sixth Man
Sep 29, 2007
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Great write-up. As you alluded to, we are more or less on track to end up with the record that could be reasonably expected of us. We definitely could be 3-4, but to expect more than that would be silly considering the schedule. What’s interesting to me is just how bad losing looks and feels in the NFL. All those years we didn’t have expectations, fans would say they would be happy with 4 or 5 wins and then that would happen and everyone would be in an uproar. It’s so easy to say “we’ll probably have a decent season and end up with 7 or 8 wins” but the actual ride of getting to that point feels so much shittier than you can imagine.


So Hot Right Now
Apr 7, 2009
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Great write up.

Honestly, I think there are so many things wrong with this team that canning the head coach probably still wouldn’t solve most of them. Baker’s been awful (surprise), the offensive line has been awful (not a surprise), OBJ has been not nearly as good as advertised, and the team continues to shoot itself in the foot with penalties (which are a reflection of coaching and discipline) and turnovers. Freddie Kitchens continues to make head scratching blunders, and you have to (fairly) wonder if he’s in over his head. Rookie head coaches typically go through growing pains, but he’s been pretty bad overall.

Most of the games have at least been close or competitive, with Tennessee and San Francisco being the two inexcusably ugly losses (and even then, SF has one of the top defenses in the league).

It also needs to be hammered home that the Browns have played the toughest schedule in the NFL this year. Let’s see what they look like in the second half with the benefit of a soft schedule one that if I recall correctly is the second or third easiest in the league.