Freddie Kitchens wanted everyone to remain calm after the Cleveland Browns’ offseason of hype led to a 30-point loss in the opener.
"We're going to be fine," Kitchens said after the game. "It's one game … the world is not ending today, contrary to popular belief."
That’s fine. But if Cleveland starts this season with two blowout losses? The world might be ending, at least to Browns fans.
The Browns face the New York Jets on “Monday Night Football,” a game that can be live-streamed on the Yahoo Sports app. It was supposed to be a showcase for a new and improved Browns team that finished last season strong, added Odell Beckham Jr. in the offseason and had its highest expectations since it came back to the NFL in 1999.
Instead, everyone will tune in wondering if this is just the same old Browns.
Browns got blown out in the opener
The good news for the Browns is the New York Jets might have had a worse week. They coughed up a 16-0 lead to lose to the Buffalo Bills and then quarterback Sam Darnold was ruled out with mono. Trevor Siemian will start instead.
That might put more pressure on the Browns. Falling to 0-2 would be bad regardless. Going to 0-2 and losing to the Jets’ backup quarterback would trigger panic in Cleveland.
There weren’t many positives to take out of the Browns’ opener. Baker Mayfield threw three interceptions. The offensive line couldn’t protect him. Cleveland’s defense was diced up by Marcus Mariota and Derrick Henry. Cleveland had 18 penalties for 182 yards. It was awful, but Mayfield was confident in his team bouncing back.
“Because everybody is going to throw this in the trash,” Mayfield said after the game. “I think that is good. I know what type of men we have in this locker room. Quite frankly, I do not give a damn what happens on the outside. I know how we are going to react.”
It was just one game. The tone might change if Week 2 looks the same.
Browns have talent, but flaws too
Maybe the Browns have fatal flaws, and we saw the beginning of a disappointing season in Week 1.
Their offensive line isn’t good, and it was a bit odd they traded exceptional guard Kevin Zeitler in the offseason. We have no idea if Kitchens is a good coach. He was a fairly anonymous position coach until midseason of last year, and the Browns gambled his strong second half as interim offensive coordinator was a sign of things to come. There is clearly talent on the Browns roster, but there’s no guarantee the chemistry will be good or the pieces fit. And then there’s the Browns’ awful history. We’re wired to believe the worst will happen to them.
It’s also possible the Browns are just as good as the most optimistic experts thought before this season started. Week 1 was bad but we’ve seen many teams struggle in the opener and go on to fine seasons.
But the Browns might not want to wait much longer. With a loss on Monday night, all that offseason hype might look pretty foolish.
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