Hiring Freddie and not Gregg Williams
Obviously the biggest issue was hiring Freddie Kitchens, though it wasn’t hiring Kitchens alone that was the issue. See, the biggest problem the Browns had in 2019 wasn’t anything more than discipline. That falls on John Dorsey, who brought in a cavalcade of poor moral players. Hooligans and ruffians plagued the team on both sides of the ball. Myles Garrett braining someone wasn’t even the only time that happened. Greg Robinson kicked a player’s head in Week 1 for crying out loud. Jarvis Landry was penalized during his time in Miami for brawling on the field. The team went out and got talented players over the years, but all of whom had control issues. Then there’s Baker Mayfield who spent more time throwing players under the bus than he did anything else.
There’s going to be some saying “BUH DIS IS FUTBOLL YOU DUMMY” as a defense to fighting on the field. There is no defense for swinging punches, kicking people or smashing people in the skull with a helmet. If you can’t stay disciplined enough to walk away from an argument, then how are you going to be disciplined enough to not jump offsides or execute fundamentally sound tackles.
Myles Garrett alone showed the harm what an undisciplined player can do. Garrett had two roughing the passer calls in one game, an unnecessary roughness penalty in week one and the worst being his responsibility toward four offsides penalties. Now, not the end of the world, but someone who’s supposed to be THAT good needs to not make ticky-tack penalties that extend drives.
Those four offside calls may not sound like a lot, but when all you have to do to NOT jump offsides is watch a brown ball that you’re eight feet from, it makes it pretty obvious that Garrett wasn’t paying attention a lot of the time. No defensive lineman should ever jump offsides, the ball is right in front of you. You move when it moves. If you need an advantage of a quarter of a second to do your job effectively then you’re not good enough to do the job at all.
That’s the kind of issue Kitchens allowed to fester and grow. He never held the players accountable. He didn’t instill discipline in them, and the team played like a bunch of hockey goons at a beer-fueled pick-up game. Just a bunch of men doing whatever they want with no clear understanding of the consequences of their actions.
This was not an issue under Gregg Williams, at least not to the point that it was hindering the team as it did under Kitchens. The team played more cohesively and with more respect for the brand. There were fewer “moments of frustration” and more competency. Williams guided a mostly similar roster to a much better season, and was in the playoff chase longer than the Kitchens-lead “super team”.
Discipline in football, nay sports, is the only way you can ever win. If the team makes dumb mistakes or goes into business for itself, the team will never succeed and failure is then guaranteed. New coach Kevin Stefanski would be wise to remember this and should be willing to fine players thousands of dollars if needed in order to keep them in line. If they refuse to straighten up then trade them, cut them or bench them. After that, just move on and find someone willing to step up. This team cannot be subjected to more of Mayfield’s antics for another year either. Make statements, and instill a culture of respect. Make Mayfield and Garrett lead by example
Don’t be their friends like Kitchens tried to do.