The Cleveland Browns lost this game due to Kevin Stefanski’s play-calling.
The Cleveland Browns’ loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday to the final of 23-20, a score that may never have been had the Browns played smart. The team had a hard time stopping the Atlanta Falcons’ running game in the second half, after not really trying to run the ball at all in the first half.
The Browns, down three defensive line starters and their key play-calling linebacker, were ripe to be exploited by the Falcons’ high-octane running game, and for two and a half quarters, the Falcons never tried the Browns’ defense. Then, in the third quarter, that’s exactly what happened.
The Browns’ front six couldn’t get any stops against the Falcons, and when Joe Woods finally put in a third linebacker, the Browns still couldn’t completely stop them. There was a great play by Jacob Phillips on third and short, late in the fourth quarter, but the Falcons still kicked the go-ahed field goal.
The field goal put the Falcons ahead by three. This is where the Browns really screwed themselves. They blew through all of their time-outs on the Falcons’ last drive, setting up a scenario with, two minutes plus left on the clock, the Browns had to go nearly the full field to score a game-tying field goal.
The Browns came close to getting in field goal range but an absolute collapse of the offensive live with only two men really going for broke, caused a sack. That forced a long pass attempt from Brissett with the clock winding down, which ended up being picked to essentially end the game.
The problem is, head coach Kevin Stefanski had a fourth and short in the red zone to start the game and instead of kicking a field goal, he opted to go for it. It did not go the Browns’ way and instead, the Browns were trailing by three when the game should’ve been tied. This isn’t the first time Stefanski has cost this team a win.
The Browns as a whole aren’t a great team regardless, and they’re even more exploitable with all the injuries on defense. This team can’t win if it isn’t perfect and when they’re not perfect, the play-calling has to be. Yes, it’s never one person’s fault a team loses, but the team is playing above expectations, and when it comes down to making the smart call, Stefanski has proven time and time again that he won’t do it.
It wasn’t the first time, nor will it be the last.