Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland.
Takeaways from practice and interviews …
1. Not taking it back: Of all the Browns’ miscues in their 32-28 loss to Seattle, Freddie Kitchens’ management at the end of the first half might have gotten lost in the shuffle.
To summarize, the Browns had a 20-12 lead and the ball at their 20-yard line with 5:02 to play. Rather than execute a clock-eating possession to end in some points at the end, Kitchens dialed up an aggressive series to – he said after the game – score not once but twice.
The Browns had the ball at the Seahawks’ 11 at the two-minute warning – virtually assured of a chip-shot field goal try. But after a Nick Chubb 1-yard gain, Kitchens had Baker Mayfield throw into the end zone and it was intercepted.
Russell Wilson then marched 88 yards in a little more than a minute for a touchdown. The Seahawks failed on a two-point conversion … but a probable 23-12 Browns lead, at worst, evaporated to 20-18 at halftime.
“Will you admit you mismanaged that possession?” I asked Kitchens.
“I would not admit that,” he answered. “I would admit we need to make a better play-call, make a better throw, run a better route. That’s all. Every situation’s different.”
“Do you really think you could score twice in the final two minutes of the half?”
“I do,” Kitchens responded.
“Listen, I’m always going to be aggressive. Always. And I expect our team to go out and stop them after we score. That’s what I expect.”
Kitchens then said, “Why am I saving the timeouts? I could burn them like a bunch of people do.”
“Why not bleed the clock there and leave with some points?" I said. "Bleeding the clock can be an effective strategy in some points in a game."
“That is a strategy,” Kitchens answered. “We’ve done that in certain games. How many points would that have given us?”
“Twenty-eight (or 27),” I said.
“So we needed more than 32 to win the game,” Kitchens said.
“But you gave them the opportunity to add [six, or more] points.”
“I agree with that, too,” Kitchens said. “I’d also agree, if I’m in that situation I’m trying to score a touchdown. We had an open receiver.”
At the end of his Monday press conference, Kitchens returned to the subject.
“I will always be aggressive,” Kitchens said. “I’m going to ask our team to be aggressive, so their coach should be aggressive. Always. I have total confidence that we’d score. And I had total confidence our defense would go out and stop them.
“I would expect you to ask that question, but you just expect the answer you’re getting in return.”
2. The Higgins controversy: After missing four complete games with a knee injury, receiver Rashard Higgins was finally active for Sunday’s game, but was the only player other than backup quarterback Garrett Gilbert not to play a single snap.
“Last week was his first week truly back, and I thought Antonio [Callaway] had a good week of practice,” Kitchens said. “Higs should have played some yesterday, but the situation didn’t arise where he was in the game. We were moving the ball with three wides and one tight end. We had a package [which included Higgins], and we didn’t use that package.”
I asked Kitchens if Higgins is in the coaches’ doghouse.
“No, he’s not,” he answered.
So, is there any reason Kitchens would put a player in his doghouse?
“Whether I would say it or not, is one thing. Do I have a doghouse? People will not get on the field for not doing their job.”
Does Higgins know why he’s not playing?
“He just got back last week,” Kitchens said.
The Seattle game was the first time Kitchens used only three receivers – Odell Beckham Jr. (68 of 69 total snaps), Jarvis Landry (66) and Callaway (47).
Brownie bits: Kitchens downplayed the hip injury suffered by Mayfield, saying, “It’s fine.” The Browns have light practices scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. Asked if Mayfield might sit out those sessions, Kitchens said, “I don’t think so.” …
According to NFL rules, players must be made available to the media after games. So when Landry exited the locker room before media was allowed to enter, it was a noticeable snub. He took the unusual step of appearing in the Monday media room, and apologized when asked about his hasty exit after the game. “For me, honestly I knew that I needed a second, I knew I needed a minute, and knew I’d get an opportunity to talk to you guys respectfully and not let the emotion of the game get the best of me,” Landry said. “So I apologize for my actions in leaving the locker room. I owed it to you guys, to my team, to myself to be respectful and come up today and talk to you guys.”
Landry was involved in three controversial plays – the interception off his hands in the end zone, the disputed fumble over the goal line, the phantom blind-side block penalty. On the interception at the end of the first half: “I feel I ran a pretty good route, had an opportunity, got inside, I just didn’t make the play. When balls get tipped up in this league, they usually get intercepted. I just got to make that play.” On the disputed fumble, which appeared to happen after he broke the plane of the goal, at least on the stadium video boards: “I saw what you saw. I saw a touchdown.” On the bogus blindside block, Landry said it affected the way he executed the very next play: “Yeah. If you go back and look, the very next play, Baker scrambles and I go to block [Bobby] Wagner and pretty much take a charge and end up hurting my ankle because I’m trying to not block like I can’t block. Because I felt I did nothing wrong on the blindside block they called on me.”