The Cleveland Browns entered the season as one of the most hyped teams in the NFL following some big offseason acquisitions. In turn, the franchise had hopes of breaking its extended postseason drought.
However, the Browns couldn’t recover after stumbling to a 2-6 start and will miss the playoffs for a 17th consecutive season. It’s the longest active playoff drought in the NFL.
The Browns were officially eliminated with a 31-15 loss to the Ravens in Week 16 that dropped them to 6-9. Cleveland faces the one-win Bengals in their season finale, but all a win would do is serve as positive momentum heading into the offseason.
What added to the sting for Cleveland was the Pittsburgh and Tennessee both lost to remain at eight victories, and the Colts won, which would have kept their playoff hopes alive heading into the final week of the season.
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Browns Potentially Shaking Things up After Missing Playoffs
Browns first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens is firmly on the hot seat after what has been a very dispiriting year and here is plenty of speculation that he’ll be jobless shortly after the season ends.
“I think just continuing to go out and putting our best foot forward from the standpoint of how we execute and you leave individually and collectively with a good feeling about what we can do moving forward,” said Kitchens ahead of the Browns season finale. “That is really all you can do, and that is what you try to do every week.
“Nothing has really changed other than the fact that after the game, we will not be in the playoffs. You still want to go out and perform your best. It is only one of 16 games through a calendar year, so of course, you want to go out, play your best and leave with a good feeling and a good feeling about yourself individually and collectively.”
The loss to the Ravens also assured the Browns a 12th straight losing season, something that has happened 19 of 21 times since the teams returned to the league in 1999.
“We set the bar high for ourselves,” quarterback Baker Mayfield told reporters after the loss. “Our expectations were extremely high, and we didn’t meet that so that’s the most disappointing thing. In the bigger picture and mindset, it’s a process to turn around what this once was to where we want to go and where we should be at right now.”
Browns Motivated By Disappointing Season
Despite the down year, there were some bright spots for the Browns, most notably Nick Chubb putting himself in the driver’s seat for the NFL rushing title. Entering the final week, he has amassed 1,453 yards. Chubb has a nice cushion on Christian McCaffrey (1,361) and the Browns face the Bengals worst-ranked rush defense to close out the year.
Despite the personal success, Chubb said he’s going to use the down year for the Browns as motivation going forward.
“Just knowing how it feels to not be as successful and to lose certain games,” Chubb told Matthew Florjancic of WKYC. “To carry that on to the offseason training and just never forget how we feel now and not ever wanting to feel this again.
“We know what we did this year — things that worked and things that did not work — so just learn from that and next year, come in with a different mindset, fix all of the small things and get ready to try again at it.”
Chubb is on his rookie contract until 2022, but his backfield buddy Kareem Hunt will be among the players the Browns need to make a deal with to keep the offensive intact. Hunt will be a restricted free agent a year’s end.
Other notable Cleveland players that can become unrestricted free agents are linebacker Joe Schobert — who leads the Browns in tackles — safety Damarious Randall and wide receiver Rashard Higgins.