The Cleveland Browns suffered a difficult loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon to drop to 2-2 after four weeks of the 2022 NFL season.
In his postgame comments, Coach Stefanski took responsibility for the loss.
This is not uncommon, and modern coach postgame coach lingo usually involves this with Stefanski as well as his peers.
However, sometimes it is just the right thing to say to appease the media and try to move on from the loss.
#Browns Kevin Stefanski: "I need to own a large part of that, we've got to come away with points in the red zone, especially early."
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) October 2, 2022
Kevin Stefanski needs to be hammered for this loss. His play-calling and decision making cost his team a win. You can make a case for the defense breaking down in the second half, but ultimately, he left too many points on the field. #Browns
— Eddie Kilroy (@eddiekilroyjr) October 2, 2022
In this case, Coach Stefanski is to blame for the loss to the Falcons, and here are the reasons why.
1. With A Depleted Defense, Take The Points
Some will applaud Stefanski for going for it early in the game in a fourth down and goal situation.
That can be an appropriate decision at times.
But with a depleted defense, the smarter choice would have been to get points on the board.
Rookies and backups made up a lot of the defensive line on Sunday so getting them a sure lead was the right call.
Isn’t that the reason the Browns drafted a stud kicker in the first place?
Why do we NOT trust in Cade York!!? Please Explain #Browns
— Raymond Dodd (@Cali_Ray_216) October 2, 2022
Yes, Cade York has missed extra points this season, but it seems unlikely he would miss (he was perfect on the day) in such favorable kicking conditions at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and even more of a selling point in his favor is that he had experience kicking there when he was at LSU.
2. Challenge Or Change The DC
#FireJoeWoods has been a trending social media hashtag several times in the past two seasons.
The messy loss with the Jets was among other things a defensive collapse.
Woods had a reprieve with the Steelers win, but many hoped Stefanski would fire Woods after the Week 3 Thursday Night Football win as the Browns headed into a mini 10-day bye.
Of course, Stefanski did not fire Woods so that meant the defense was hopefully working on the issues that have plagued it so far this year, maintaining a fourth-quarter lead would be tops on the list.
Yes, there were injuries, but it seems inexcusable that the Falcons were able to run the ball play-after-play in the fourth quarter and have success.
Not a big overreact guy, but at this point what does Joe Woods bring to the table? Runs a base defense that only “works”with 2 elite defensive ends. We let a sub par team run the ball 10 times for a TD. Giving the ball to a practice squad RB. #Browns #firejoewoods @PaulBrown_UK
— Phillip Shuback (@PhillipShuback) October 3, 2022
Furthermore, Marcus Mariota only completed 7 passes out of 19 attempts on the day; the game plan was clearly to run the ball and the Browns should have figured out the Falcons’ game plan and reacted accordingly.
So you are telling me Marcus Mariota went 7/19 with 0 Touchdowns and the Browns still lost? That’s tough lol That falcons run game is serious. Apparently a practice squad RB got the job done. 😂 glad I didn’t see that.
— Mack Perry (@DevaronPerry) October 2, 2022
Where were the adjustments?
Stefanski explained it as the defense getting worn down.
#Browns HC Kevin Stefanski on Falcons' run game taking over: "They did a nice job. They wore us down. We, obviously, have to find a way to get off the field."
— 92.3 The Fan (@923TheFan) October 2, 2022
If that is the case, is it time again to renew the focus on what is happening with the Browns’ strength and conditioning program that season-after-season puts players into soft tissue (and other) injuries early in the year and then has players gassed in the fourth quarter of games?
Something has to give because it feels like the same series of events is being repeated over and over.
3. Stick With What Works
Talk about something being repeated over and over, that is for the Browns offense to stick with what works.
The Browns had the league’s best running back, Nick Chubb, on the sidelines in the latter stages of the Falcons game on Sunday.
Nick Chubb — unquestionably the most talented player on the #Browns offense — wasn't even on the field for the entire final 2:28 of the game (9 offensive plays!), especially when they only needed to get into FG range. Why?
Stefanski is still getting rookie head coach mulligans
— Roberto Shenanigans (@Rob_Shenanigans) October 3, 2022
I needed to let this sit for a moment, but how in the world does the #Browns Nick Chubb not touch the ball in the final 6 minutes of that game yesterday? Not even in for the final drive with 2:28 to go? A legit home run threat…and yes, he can catch the ball too…awful!
— Thom Abraham (@thomabrahamshow) October 3, 2022
Coach Stefanski is an intelligent guy, and he makes good decisions often.
We have these discussions when the team loses close games (that they should not).
That is exactly what happened yesterday.
Stefanski did not make the necessary adjustments, and the team lost a game that was very winnable.