When the Cleveland Browns got out to a 2-1 record early in the season, it seemed as if perhaps they had a shot at making the NFL playoffs.
Jacoby Brissett, who was filling in for Deshaun Watson during his 11-game suspension, was playing better than expected, and their defense was giving them enough chances to win.
But since then, it has all fallen apart on both sides of the football.
In fact, since their bye week in Week 9, the Browns have ranked in the bottom half of the league in offense, defense and special teams.
#Browns now rank 18th in offensive efficiency (a massive drop since the bye), 20th in defensive and 18th in special teams
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) December 12, 2022
Now, with a 5-8 record, they have virtually no shot at reaching the postseason.
The Pieces Haven’t Fit Yet
On paper, the Browns have what looks like a very competitive team, with Watson under center, four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Amari Cooper, arguably the best running back in Nick Chubb and a number of studs on defense.
But it hasn’t coalesced together to form a winning unit.
Many feel the defense has Cleveland’s biggest culprit, as it ranks 22nd in rushing yards, 27th in points allowed and 28th in rushing touchdowns allowed.
Just about everyone knew that once Watson finally took the field in the regular season, it would take a while for him to build chemistry with his new teammates, not to mention get back into rhythm after not playing for nearly two calendar years.
With four games left, it’s time for head coach Kevin Stefanski to focus on building chemistry, confidence and momentum for next season.
If he can get the pieces to fit, perhaps the Browns can make some serious noise in 2023.