Another Cleveland Browns season is in the books, and when looking back on the 2019 season years from now, I’m sure it will go down as one of the strangest we have ever witnessed. Following an offseason of unprecedented hype, the Browns found themselves in a place they haven’t been in decades. All of the sudden Cleveland was the talk of the NFL, with bettors lining up at sportsbooks across the country to make Cleveland the most bet team in the futures market this past summer.
Bettors drove Cleveland’s Super Bowl odds all the way down to +1000 at one point and also bet heavily on the Browns going over an inflated win total of 9.5. New hire, Freddie Kitchens, was expected to build on the tremendous second half of 2018 and his supposed “great repour,” with Baker Mayfield was going to make this team a contender again. The offseason acquisition of Odell Beckham only lent more credence to the argument that Cleveland was about to turn things around. The season that ultimately ensued was like nothing the Cleveland Browns organization or it’s fans could have imagined.
The 2019 season just never seemed to get on track for the Browns. There was a glaring lack of discipline throughout the entire team starting from game one, a 43-13 drubbing from the Tennessee Titans. After beating the Jets Week 2 and losing a heartbreaker on Monday night to the Rams, Cleveland headed to Baltimore where they would play their best game of the season. An impressive 40 – 25 Win had Cleveland feeling pretty good, at 2-2, heading into a Monday Night game against San Francisco.
With all eyes back on Cleveland, following their dominant performance at Baltimore, the Browns would lay an egg under the Monday night lights and look totally unprepared for the game, falling 31 -3 to the 49ers. The ensuing three games would see the Browns drop all three against some good competition and fall to 2-6 on the year.
Could the Browns Turn Things Around After the Halfway Point? And Myles Garrett Did WHAT?!?!
The following two weeks would be wins for the Browns as they beat Buffalo and Pittsburgh. It was the conclusion of the Pittsburgh game that would prove to be one of defining moments of the 2019 campaign. In what can only be described as a moment of temporary insanity, Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, tore off Mason Rudolph’s helmet and violently hit him with it. The ensuing indefinite suspension of Garrett would prove to be a huge loss for Cleveland.
After managing to beat Miami in the week following the incident, Cleveland would fall apart in December. The rematch with the Steelers went much as expected with Pittsburgh avenging the loss from the helmet incident just two weeks prior. The loss would send any real playoff hopes for the team out the window and it was at this point where things really began to unravel for the Browns and head coach Freddie Kitchens.
The final weeks of the season were filled with dysfunction on and off the field: with rumors of Odell Beckham wanting out, and reports of players not giving their all for the first-year coach, the writing was on the wall. The Cleveland Browns hit their most browns-ish in the final three weeks by losing each of the last three games of the season. As the season that started out with so much promise came to a merciful close, so would the head coaching career of Freddie Kitchens.
Following the final game, an embarrassing 33 -23 loss to the 1-14 Bengals, the Browns would fire Kitchens and are now on the search for their eleventh head coach over the past 20 years. Owner Jimmy Haslam also decided to part ways General Manager John Dorsey following the season putting the Browns in all too familiar place, starting fresh yet again, with even more uncertainty for the future.
Where do the Browns go from Here? Looking Forward to 2020
It is really unimaginable for the season to end up the way it did, but nothing should really surprise us about this franchise. Jimmy Haslam has proven himself to be an incompetent owner and I am afraid the cycle may never end with him at the helm. At the moment, Josh McDaniels is the supposed favorite to land the Browns head coaching job and—let me be the first to tell you—that will not happen. It is very hard to speculate about who will be in charge next year in Cleveland because of the complete random nature of Haslam’s past hires.
The dismissal of John Dorsey is in my opinion the biggest blow to this organization as I believe Dorsey had done a tremendous job building this team. I believe the disappointment of the 2019 season will be felt for years to come and has set this franchise back yet again. The path to success is never easy, as Browns fans have to come to find out, so let’s hope this group of talented players that has been assembled in Cleveland is not waisted by an organization that is in constant turmoil.