Recapping How A Season Of Great Expectations Resulted In Another Browns Coaching Search

Myles Garrett's meltdown blunted one of the biggest wins over the Steelers in decades and effectively ended the Browns' playoff hopes. (USA Today)

Myles Garrett's meltdown blunted one of the biggest wins over the Steelers in decades and effectively ended the Browns' playoff hopes. (USA Today)


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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland.

The Browns’ coaching search is coming to a conclusion.

Unless their preferred choice advances to the conference championship round – Kevin Stefanski of Minnesota, Robert Saleh of San Francisco, and Greg Roman of Baltimore are still alive in the playoffs this weekend – the Browns could be introducing their next head coach by Monday.

So, before the 2019 season gets too small in everyone’s rear-view mirror, let us review what each Browns game told us about the team.

Game 1

Tennessee 43, Browns 13

1.Eighteen penalties, the ejection of left tackle Greg Robinson, and an open-fist slap of Delanie Walker by Myles Garrett established a lack of discipline and composure under rookie coach Freddie Kitchens.

2.Down by only 15-13, Baker Mayfield tossed three interceptions in the second half, foretelling a horrible second season.

3.Not a finger was laid on Derrick Henry during a 75-yard touchdown run with a simple screen pass, after which the Browns defense collectively called it a day.

Game 2

Browns 23, N.Y. Jets 3

1.Odell Beckham Jr. wore a white watch reportedly valued at $2 million in pre-game warmups and then was removed from the game in the first quarter to shed a tinted visor in violation of league uniform code.

2.Beckham said afterwards that Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ mid-week comments (“Odell who?”) inspired him in his return to MetLife Stadium for what proved to be his best game of the year – six catches, 161 yards, two spectacular plays, and one touchdown.

3.Garrett had three sacks, two roughing-the-passer fouls and knocked quarterback Trevor Siemian out of the game when he landed on his ankle.

Game 3

L.A. Rams 20, Browns 13

1.Another letdown in front of a revved-up home crowd on a Sunday Night Football showcase.

2.Kitchens’ honeymoon as a play-caller ended with a fourth-and-9 draw play in the fourth quarter and then four frantic pass plays out of empty formation from the Rams’ 4-yard line at the end.

3.Mayfield’s first failure of the year to tie or win a game in the fourth quarter.

Game 4

Browns 40, Baltimore 25

1.Biggest win over the Ravens in the expansion era, a complete physical beat-down on offense and defense.

2.Best defensive performance of the year against future MVP Lamar Jackson, forcing two interceptions, sacking him four times and limiting him to 66 yards running.

3.Left Baltimore in first place in the division – seemingly putting all those lofty expectations in sight.

Game 5

San Francisco 31, Browns 3

1.Another defensive breakdown – an untouched, 83-yard TD run by Matt Breida on the 49ers’ first offensive play – demoralized the unit for rest of the night.

2.Out of the empty formation from the 8-yard line, Mayfield’s pass deflected off Antonio Callaway’s hands and was intercepted by ex-Brown K’Waun Williams, resulting in a 14-point swing at the end of the first half.

3.Unblockable ex-Buckeye Nick Bosa avenged Mayfield by mimicking his infamous flag plant after an Oklahoma victory over Ohio State two years prior.

Game 6

Seattle 32, Browns 28

1.Blew a 20-6 lead with four turnovers, nine penalties and a blocked punt.

2.Bungled the end of the first half by recklessly throwing into the end zone from the Seahawks’ 10 with a 20-12 lead. Mayfield’s interception resulted in a Seattle touchdown.

3.For the second time in six games, Mayfield’s attempt to rally in the fourth quarter was abysmal. His third interception ended it.

Game 7

New England 27, Browns 13

1.Turnovers on three consecutive plays dug a 17-0 hole on a soggy day in Gillette Stadium.

2.Bill Belichick gained his 300th career coaching win against the team he earned his first win, and for the team he beat in his first win.

3.Twelve penalties (including four false starts), three turnovers, two failed replay challenges, one muffed punt, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Game 8

Denver 24, Browns 19

1.Mayfield was outplayed by Brandon Allen, a career backup making his first NFL start.

2.Another Mayfield winning or tying bid in the fourth quarter was foiled by a desperate pass for Jarvis Landry in double-coverage at the Broncos 20, prompting Beckham to wail walking off the field, “I can’t get the ball to save my life.”

3.Bizarre game management and a 2-6 record resulted in Kitchens fielding questions about job security for the first time.

4.While still in uniform, safety Jermaine Whitehead issued death threats via Twitter to fans criticizing his poor play and vehemently refused to delete them; he was released the next day.

Game 9

Browns 19, Buffalo 16

1.The long-awaited pairing of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt brought a new dynamic and energy to the offense.

2.Mayfield’s shovel pass through Hunt’s hands was returned 30 yards for a Buffalo touchdown, but it was overturned on replay as an incomplete pass.

3.Mayfield’s only late winning drive of the season, climaxed by a 7-yard touchdown catch by Rashard Higgins – his first and last scoring play of the year – broke a four-game losing streak and produced the first home win.

Game 10

Browns 21, Pittsburgh 7

1.One of the most brutal games in the 135-game Cleveland-Pittsburgh rivalry ended in the defining moment of the season, one that literally changed lives.

2.With eight seconds left, Garrett grappled with Mason Rudolph, pried off the quarterback’s helmet after agitation and swung it against his head.

3.The ensuing melee resulted in over $2 million in fines and lost wages, three player suspensions, Garrett’s allegation of Rudolph using a racial slur and, effectively, ended the Browns’ playoff hopes while blunting one of the biggest wins over Pittsburgh in decades.

Game 11

Browns 41, Miami 24

1.Dee Haslam raised eyebrows by showing up at the game with a winter cap bearing the No. 95 jersey number of the suspended Garrett.

2.Mayfield had a near-perfect first half as the Browns raced to a 28-0 lead.

3.Post-game talk immediately turned to the next game with the Steelers and news that Rudolph probably wouldn’t play in the rematch.

Game 12

Pittsburgh 20, Browns 13

1.Two nights before, a photo went viral of Kitchens wearing a T-shirt declaring “Pittsburgh started it.” Afterwards, several Steelers claimed it motivated them.

2.A 10-0 lead was blown by allowing Pittsburgh touchdowns engineered by undrafted rookie fill-in quarterback Devlin “Duck” Hodges at the end of the first half and beginning of the second half.

3.Wearing a compression glove to protect an injury to his throwing hand, Mayfield’s attempt for a game-winning drive ended in an interception and Jarvis Landry cussing out quarterbacks coach Ryan Lindley on the sideline.

Game 13

Browns 27, Cincinnati 19

1.Two pre-game bombshells about Beckham dominated the day – that he’d been playing with an injury that may require post-season sports hernia surgery, and that he’d told opposing coaches and players “Come get me” at various points of the season.

2.Prior to the game, owner Jimmy Haslam conversed extensively on the Browns’ bench area with Paul DePodesta, chief strategy officer.

3.In the post-game recap, Mayfield threw the club medical staff under bus when he said Beckham’s injury in training camp “wasn’t handled the right way in our training room.” Within an hour, he apologized (sort of) via Twitter after a club official talked to him.

Game 14

Arizona 38, Browns 24

1.The first meeting of Mayfield v. Oklahoma teammate Kyler Murray was no contest.

2.Landry lashed out at Kitchens on the sideline for not getting enough pass plays.

3.Woefully out-coached by Kliff Kingsbury, this would be the game that sealed Kitchens’ fate as a one-and-done Browns coach.

Game 15

Baltimore 31, Browns 15

1.Unconscionable mismanagement by Kitchens at the end of the first half turned a 6-0 lead into a 14-6 halftime deficit.

2.Sheldon Richardson and Beckham tossed their helmets into the bench area in frustration.

3.A 12th consecutive losing season was assured with the loss.

Game 16

Cincinnati 33, Browns 23

1.Against the 32nd-ranked run defense, Nick Chubb carried only 13 times for 41 yards and lost the NFL rushing title to Tennessee’s Derrick Henry.

2.Severely dehydrated with flu-like symptoms, Beckham surpassed 1,000 yards receiving on the season with 81 yards, including an acrobatic 20-yard touchdown.

3.Even on the short flight home, Kitchens had no idea of what was coming. He was fired when the team arrived at its facility at night.