The Cleveland Browns players got off the plane in Arizona but apparently left their game on board.
In a must-win game, the Browns did everything they could to ensure they would be watching the NFL playoffs from their couch.
It started at the beginning of the game. Before most fans had a chance to get comfortable on their couches the Browns were down two touchdowns and were down 21-10 at the half.
“We got our butts kicked in all aspects of the game,” Joel Bitonio said. “They came out much better than us. We came out flat.”
“You’ve got to be ready to go. It’s your job. There’s pride on the line, no matter what your record is, especially when you have a chance to keep playing games. It was just one of those things we didn’t have it today.”
And boy what a bad day to not show up.
The Cardinals came into Sunday’s game with the Browns on a six-game losing streak and nothing to play for but pride.
The Browns, on the other hand, had so much to play for.
After their capitulation against the Steelers two weeks ago, the Browns had a slim chance to make it into the playoffs, but it was still a chance.
Not only that but the Browns had a realistic shot at finishing .500 or better for just the 3rd time since the franchise has been back in Cleveland.
Lots of high expectations for the Browns in 2019, but today's loss means they won't finish with a winning season.
Cleveland’s last winning season (10-6) came in 2007. That’s the longest active drought in the NFL. Every other team has had a winning season this decade. pic.twitter.com/QamGD02STh
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 16, 2019
You would think that would keep the players focused and motivated.
That responsibility, of course, falls to head coach Freddie Kitchens who may or may not be coaching for his job.
For his part Kitchens said, “I’ve got to do a better job during the course of the week making sure they’re ready to play when we get to game day.”
Well yes Freddie, that is your job. Getting them ready to play.
Kitchens went on to say, “When you show up, you’re supposed to perform at a higher level.
So I’m assuming I have to revisit what I did earlier in the week to see if I can get them better for the game on Sunday.”
At this point 14 games into the season with their playoff lives on the line, it can’t be all on the players.
It wasn’t just the players that left their game on the plane, it was the coaches as well. But that’s an argument for another time.
Struggling quarterback Baker Mayfield added his two cents saying, “We started slow. We were playing from behind the whole game. That’s pretty much the tale of the tape.”
And playing from behind is not something the Browns do well.
All season long the Browns have struggled to come back in football games they are trailing in.
Of the team’s six wins, only in the win against Buffalo did the Browns come from behind.
During their stellar mid-season run, the thing that set this team on the right track was first drive touchdowns.
Start fast, get the confidence up and control the game with Nick Chubb running the ball.
It’s a simple formula that worked wonders for a few weeks.
Not Sunday in the desert.
Serious question for the fans. Do you feel the team quit today? #Browns
— Dustin Fox (@DustinFox37) December 15, 2019
As John Dorsey and the Haslam’s evaluate the direction to take this team in the off-season, they will be wise to remember this game.
Everything to play for and yet they didn’t show up.