by Jordy McElroy
Even after a victory, leave it to the Cleveland Browns to still find a way to lose.
Whatever the entity was in “Final Destination” has clearly penetrated the depths of Jimmy Haslem’s organization to perpetually wreak havoc in new and innovative ways. It’s the Jersey Shore of professional football—the rapidly approaching train wreck that you know is coming and decide to watch anyway. The only difference is GTL stands for “going to lose” in this dystopian universe where the Browns actually thought they’d be contenders.
There were literally eight seconds left on the clock that would have cemented a hard-fought victory over the divisional rival Pittsburgh Steelers. It would have cemented back-to-back wins for the Browns the first time this season.
And then the unexpectedly expected happened.
The unexpected was All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett ripping off Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph’s helmet and bashing him over the head with it. The expected was the Browns once again failing to get out of their own way and sabotaging their season.
Perhaps the most embarrassing occurrence in the entire ordeal was the Browns’ sideline reportedly cheering Garrett on during the dastardly attack that could have been much worse. It’s the sort of incident that could have led to Rudolph spending Friday morning in a hospital bed with Garrett behind bars facing criminal charges.
It’s time to come back down from the skyscraping highs of one of the best off-seasons in recent memory. The Browns aren’t going to the Super Bowl this season. They aren’t even going to make the playoffs.
Garrett should be suspended for the remainder of the year for his actions, and Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens deserves to be on the hot seat. Although Garrett showed remorse for putting his teammates in a tough spot, there was never a moment in his post-game media scrum where he actually apologized for his actions.
Why should any of us expect him to get it when the team thinks it’s okay to cheer on that sort of behavior?
The Kitchens experiment has been a complete and utter failure from the very beginning, and this is one of the few times where the Browns should seriously consider parting ways and cutting their losses early. It’s a marriage that has snowballed from merely a rookie head coach struggling with situational football to real questions of leadership. In a locker room full of big personalities, Kitchens is juggling five balls while riding a unicycle on a tightrope.
He’s in over his head.
The Browns have never had an issue with firing good coaches too soon. So the whole act of being one-and-done with another head coach wouldn’t be surprising in the least bit.
Perhaps the only positive to come out of the ordeal was Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield showing his first real sign of maturity by speaking out against Garrett’s actions. He could have easily tiptoed around questions and deflected with robotic responses, but he grabbed the reins of the situation and looked like a real NFL quarterback when addressing the media.
If only his offense was good enough to make up for the team losing arguably its best player.
This isn’t the sort of situation where simply doling out a hefty fine would suffice. Garrett has to be made into an example that this sort of behavior won’t be tolerated on the field. It was malicious, callous and downright dangerous.
For the struggling Browns, it will serve as the final nail in the coffin for a season that never lived up to the lofty expectations. It’s just the same subterranean lows from the same undisciplined team that even the greatest makeover in the world couldn’t hide.