Browns Coaches Corner: One bad decision leads to loss in Week 14

Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Mandatory Credit: Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports
Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Mandatory Credit: Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports /

Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski has made his share of controversial play calls and has put him on the hot seat again with his latest play call

We’ve watched Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski make the decision to go for it on fourth-down too many times to count over his three-year tenure. There have been many attempts made that went well but there have been more than enough that went south and have cost his team games. That situation again happened in the loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

One play or decision doesn’t always affect the outcome of a game, but it certainly can play into the momentum and how the rest of the battle plays out.

It was the opening drive for the Browns and they had moved the ball well with Deshaun Watson looking much more comfortable running the offense. The play in question was set up after the Browns got to a 4th and 1 at the Bengals 25-yard line.

Before the controversial play that everyone is talking about Monday, Watson scrambled on and second and seven that looked like a first down, but the refs spotted the ball a yard short. Why Stefanski didn’t throw the challenge flag on the spot can be a conversation for another day.

On the ensuing third down attempt, the ball was handed off to running back Kareem Hunt who went nowhere as the offensive line collapsed. This forced Stefanski into making the decision that will be talked about for the rest of the season.

Stefanski discussed the play after the game and stressed the need to put points on the board and that fault falls on his shoulders.

So if he wanted to put points on the board, then he should have trusted his kicker and taken the three points. Cade York has missed a few attempts this season, but it would have been a 42-yarder, which he can handle. Instead, the coach decided to go for it with his quarterback but not the quarterback that his franchise is paying $230 million for, but instead his backup — Jacoby Brissett.

Brissett has had some success this season in similar situations where he was able to hold on to the ball, run a quarterback sneak, and gain the short yardage. However, in this play call, Stefanski tried to trick the Bengals into thinking that and instead had Brissett drop back and throw a deep 30-yard pass for wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones — which fell incomplete.

The coach’s decision to go for it might not be the worst choice but when he decided to roll Brissett out there to throw the deep pass instead of keeping the ball in the hands of the $230 million man in Watson made the call a tragedy.

It was early in the game and only the Browns first offensive possession of the game. There would be a lot more football to be played. But NFL coaches need to have a feel for the game if they want to stay in the league.

Every week, we hear Stefanski take the blame for the latest issues with the team and him saying “I’ve got to be better” but that never seems to happen. His decisions continue to backfire. If he talked about the importance of getting the points, then take the field goal in that situation.

There will be more fourth-down decisions for Stefanski to make in the future but how much more of that future will be as the Cleveland head coach could be in question at this point of the season.

His team sits at 5-8. He’s got a 24-22 overall record which is by far one of the best of any previous Browns head coaches. But after that 11-5 rookie campaign, Stefanski is only 13-17 ever since. The controversies will likely increase as his team tries to get to the end of the season but making better decisions would certainly show some growth as a coach.