With the Cleveland Browns at 2-5, frustration continues to grow in northeast Ohio.
Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens has some pointing the finger at head coach Kevin Stefanski.
Some, such as local sports talk host Garrett Bush, even believe he has lost the locker room.
BROWNS vs. RAVENS INSTANT REACTION | STEFANSKI HAS LOST THE LOCKER ROOM!
— Garrett Bush (@Gbush91) October 23, 2022
— Cleveland Sports Talk (@CLEsportsTalk) October 23, 2022
Stefanski is brilliant at outsmarting himself. I just don’t get it. #Browns
— Hayden Grove (@H_Grove) October 23, 2022
The Browns’ season has seemingly been slipping away these past few weeks.
With Deshaun Watson still sidelined, it’d be one thing if it was strictly quarterback play hindering this team.
But it’s not that.
Jacoby Brissett, while far from perfect, has been fine.
Late game blunders have hurt, but ultimately, the problems extend beyond that.
Does it come back to Stefanski starting to lose the locker room?
One social media clip from Thursday sparked a lot of conversation late last week.
Left guard Joel Bitonio talked about guys possibly not understanding “what it takes to play at this (NFL) level”.
This came partially in response to a quote from safety John Johnson III that hinted at a lack of commitment from some.
#Browns safety John Johnson III: "It's a commitment thing. When practice is over, you can't just run out of the building and forget about your job. We need everyone is this building to be 100% in on the task at hand. Right now, I think we're at a place where that's not the case."
— Keith Britton (@KeithBritton86) October 19, 2022
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) October 20, 2022
In that same quote, he discusses coaches, along with players themselves, being responsible for that happening.
Bitonio did not directly call out Stefanski or any coaches.
However, this did turn plenty of fans’ heads.
Mainly, the interpretation, or perhaps misinterpretation according to some, of this quote led to some keyboard fighting among Browns fans.
Joel Bitonio agrees with John Johnson III: “I think some guys don’t understand what it takes to play at this level.”
Said that it’s not an effort thing on the field, but it’s knowing the commitment it takes every day.
Said it goes from coaches on down.
— Hayden Grove (@H_Grove) October 20, 2022
Why did you include the emoji? Anyone can watch the clip and see that you’re trying to make it something more than it is https://t.co/tcUZlEpnQo
— Football Chopz (@Pchopz_) October 20, 2022
Regardless, what Bitonio says does rain concern.
It’s Week Seven in Stefanski’s third year at the helm.
There isn’t really an excuse for guys not knowing what it takes to prepare for and play at the NFL level.
Ultimately, that does come back to coaching and an overall lack of leadership.
There is responsibility on the player to be ready.
However, the consistent issues grow tiresome (think poor tackling, untimely penalties, etc).
Even without Watson, this is a talented Browns team that is getting outplayed and out-willed by lesser talented teams.
That is a huge problem.
I like Kevin Stefanski. I really do. But it's hard to defend having the more talented team and losing every single week.
— Aaron Goldhammer (@HammerNation19) October 23, 2022
Is the Locker Room Really Lost?
No, I don’t think the locker room has turned on Stefanski.
Patience has to be wearing thin following Sunday’s loss, reports came out of screaming from inside Clevelands locker room.
When asked about it after the game, Stefanski chalked it up to “normal football emotion”.
We could hear screaming inside the #Browns locker room after the loss. Stefanski called it “normal football” emotion.
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) October 23, 2022
That happens at any level of football, especially in a letdown against a rival. Stefanski is right about that.
But when guys like John Johnson come out and give this kind of effort after talking about that exact thing earlier in the week, there’s reason for concern.
John Johnson III. This is the guy who spent the week calling out his teammates on defense for their lack of commitment and hard work. Jacob Phillips literally pushes him because he's just standing there in his way, watching Gus Edwards walk in for the TD. #Browns pic.twitter.com/ehEy9rVHPi
— Roberto Shenanigans (@Rob_Shenanigans) October 23, 2022
Winning Guys Back
Winning Sunday would have led to some much different conversations this week.
Cleveland lost, though, so here we are. No amount of “should have, could have, would have’s” turn a loss to a win.
Thus is life in the NFL.
There is still plenty of football to be played this season.
But as the saying goes, “it’s getting late, early”.
Many continue to feel Stefanski is partially responsible for putting the Browns in positions to lose.
Throwing more than running https://t.co/GX30QXrQ3U
— Adam the Bull (@adamthebull) October 23, 2022
No one wants to win more than the players.
If fans are flustered, you know the guys in the locker room are too.
With veterans talking about teammates not necessarily knowing how to succeed, that will ultimately point back to coaching.
At the top of that, of course, is Stefanski. If that continues, the locker room could start to check out on him.
How he goes about getting guys ready and winning them back is on him.
Turning around and getting a win this week would be a heck of a start.