Early in Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Cleveland Browns faced a fourth down and one on Cincinnati’s 25-yard line, and head coach Kevin Stefanski decided to go for it – with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback instead of Deshaun Watson.
His pass attempt to Donovan Peoples-Jones was incomplete, and they went on to lose to Joe Burrow and company 23-10.
Browns beat writer Mary Kay Cabot asked Stefanski about that decision, and he made it clear that he’s focused on moving forward and having a constructive mindset.
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) December 12, 2022
“As you can imagine, I keep the focus on what I can control, what’s going on in our building, those types of things. So, always looking for ways to improve. Always looking for ways to put our guys in position to succeed. That’s what i have to do.”
Watson, in his second game back from his 11-game suspension, once again was shaky, going 26 of 42, although he did manage to throw for 276 yards and his first touchdown pass as a member of the Browns.
It’s understandable that it will take him some time to look like the Watson who led the NFL in passing yards in 2020, but fans want to see some game-to-game progression and improvement from him.
With a playoff berth all but unattainable for Cleveland, it is time for the team to build momentum into next season, when it will presumably have a full training camp together as a unit.
Perhaps Stefanski Should Focus On Another Problem
One can criticize Stefanski for that decision on fourth down and perhaps some other questionable play calls, but he would be best served to divert much of his attention to the elephant in the room – his team’s porous defense.
Despite the presence of All-Pro pass rusher Myles Garrett and studs such as Denzel Ward in the secondary, the Browns rank just 18th in passing touchdowns allowed, 22nd in rushing yards allowed and 27th in points allowed.
Defense is something that will need to be rectified if they are to become a very competitive team in 2023.