Browns Coach Fails to Back Key Starter Amid Calls for Job

Getty Images Chase McLaughlin of the Cleveland Browns.

Chase McLaughlin missed a key field goal for the Cleveland Browns before the half against the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday and it ended up costing his team big in the 16-14 loss.

McLaughlin is 15-of-21 on his field goal attempts this season and has missed a kick in five of the last six games, going 4-of-9 over that stretch. His struggles have led to many calling for McLaughlin’s job.

Both special teams coordinator Mike Priefer and head coach Kevin Stefanski failed to give McLaughlin any large show of support when asked about the latest miss, which might have cost the Browns a trip to the postseason.

“You have to make those kicks,” Priefer said after the matchup. “The expectation is to make those type of kicks in that game, and he should have made it.”

Stefanski delivered a similar sentiment.

“I think we do have to make those. Chase knows that. We are counting on him,” the Browns boss told Cleveland media on Tuesday, December 21. “He has to come through for us.”

McLaughlin Won Kicker Spot After Incumbent Injured

McLaughlin was originally signed this offseason to provide competition for Cody Parkey. He originally inked a deal with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent out of Illinois in 2019. McLaughlin has also had stints with the Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Chargers, San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts. McLaughlin has made 78.6 percent of his field goal attempts (22 of 28) and 96.9 percent of his extra points (31 of 32) in the NFL.

Parkey was good, but not great last season after beating out former fifth-round pick Austin Seibert. Parkey hit on 19 of 22 field goal attempts and was 43 of 47 on extra points.

Parkey ended up going down with a quad injury, eventually leading to his release. But the Browns made sure to shake off any sentiment that McLaughlin won the spot by “default.”

“Honestly, Cody did a really nice job for us last year. He came back eight pounds heavier. He came back stronger. He was going to be better on kickoffs,” Priefer said on Thursday. “Chase was really giving him a run for his money. I like Chase. I am confident in Chase.”

Browns Hoping to Get More Bodies Back After Tough Week

Kevin Stefanski: "They are one game seasons"Kevin Stefanski addresses the media on December 21st, 2021. #BrownsMedia #PressConference2021-12-21T17:46:56Z

What hurts the most about the Browns loss to the Raiders is that they came so close despite being down nearly half their starters and head coach due to COVID-19 issues. The Browns are hoping they’ll be in better shape this week, although much still remains unclear. As of Tuesday, Stefanski had no updates on the Browns situation.

“No updates yet for you yet. I do not believe anybody has cleared the protocols, including myself. I have not been able to clear the protocols yet. As you know, it is kind of hurry up and wait,” Stefanski told reporters. “You are at the mercy of the testing, and you wait to see when we get guys back.”

The Browns put their season on the line on Christmas Day against the Packers, facing what is more than likely a must-win situation to stay in the running for a playoff spot and possibly the AFC North crown.

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