Browns lament blown opportunities to win early in season

Players know they could be 4-0 but mistakes cost them wins

Daryl Ruiter
October 03, 2018 - 4:44 pm

© Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports


Berea, OH (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Browns should be 4-0.

That’s not a typo, you read that right. They should be 4-0, but they’re 1-2-1 instead.

“We have to catch up now,” head coach Hue Jackson said. “We dug a little hole. We have had some chances, some opportunities to win some games that we did not. There are some other plays we felt we should have made that we did not, so we feel like our backs are against the wall a little bit. We need the second quarter. We have to get going and play better football and get some wins.”

The Browns have the talent to win and they've played well enough most of the time to win but the realization of opportunities already lost in three of the first four games has several players frustrated.

“It’s the whole team effort and attitude, and there’s been mistakes all over the field that just keep us barely from winning, that we need to just to clean up,” linebacker Joe Schobert said. “We could be 4-0 right now, but because of certain things here and there, we’re not, and it’s a whole team game.”

Last Sunday in Oakland it was 4 turnovers, the inability to get one last stop in the final 88 seconds and allowing the Raiders to score a touchdown and tie the game with a two-point conversion in just 58 seconds.

“That’s been kind of frustrating throughout the whole year, that we haven’t been able to close a game as a whole team,” safety Damrious Randall, who is playing with a bruised heel since Week 2, said. “Because it wasn’t just the defense. But the defense had a chance to get off the field and win the game but obviously that didn’t happen, but I mean, that’s why they call it a team game.”

Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield threw two interceptions and fumbled twice in the 45-42 overtime loss to the Raiders but was really to blame for just one of each.

“The most important thing is taking care of the ball,” Mayfield said. “No matter if it is communication or decision-making, the most important thing is the football and making sure that we give our team the most opportunities to win, chances to score and putting ourselves into a good position. That is the most important thing. After that, it is the little details. It is all the little things.

“We are very, very close to being a great team. That is it. We are not there yet so we have a lot of work to do.”

Mayfield might not be wrong.

The Browns had multiple chances late in regulation and again in overtime to beat the Steelers, including having a potential game-winning 43-yard field goal in overtime blocked, on Sept. 9 after rallying back from a 21-7 deficit with just under eight minutes remaining in regulation. They had to settle for a tie.

In Week 2 they kept Saints future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees in check for 3 quarters but squandered a 12-3 fourth quarter lead and lost thanks to a fourth quarter interception as well as two missed field goals and two extra points, 21-18.

Against the Jets they rallied form 14 down after Mayfield took over to beat the Jets and end their 19-game winless streak.

“I think it shows that we will always have a chance to be in a game,” left guard Joel Bitonio said. “You saw with the Steelers, we were down by a couple of touchdowns. We tried to fight back. The Raiders, we had about three of four drives there where it was looking bleak. If we did not do a very good job and that was tough to be a part of, but we came back, we got ourselves the lead. Eight-point lead with a minute left. Thought we had a first down to win the game, and we just got to finish on those. I think we can always be in games, and now, we just got to finish and take that next step.”

Up next: the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens, who swoop into town having slapped around the Steelers at Heinz Field Sunday night, at 3-1.

“It is big for us to just take that next step, it is big up in the division and in all reality we’re supposed to be 4-0,” Randall said. “But we’re not going to sit here and harp on that, but at the end of the day we’re just going to take it day by day, play by play and we’ve just got to do a better job finishing games.”