On Sunday Kevin Stefanski made his head coaching debut with the Cleveland Browns, and his first game went about as well as that of every other new Browns head coach in recent decades. As noted by Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, “Just about everything that could go wrong for the Browns did” in their 38-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. That includes “an interception by Baker Mayfield on the opening drive of the game—the worst-case scenario for the embattled QB.”
As a result, the Browns are now 1-20-1 in season openers since the team’s rebirth in 1999, and are winless in 16 consecutive regular season openers. The last Browns head coach to win his debut was Bud Carson, the former Steelers defensive coordinator who vanquished his former team 51-0 in 1989.
“It’s hard to say we did anything well,” Stefanski said after the game. “We only scored six points, and that’s not good enough in the National Football League.”
Making matters worse, the Browns lost offensive lineman Jedrick Mills to a leg injury and rookie linebacker Jacob Phillips and tight end David Njoku to knee injuries.
Of course, the Browns weren’t expected to win on Sunday. The Ravens are one of the most talented teams in the NFL—perhaps the best team in the league—and being at home, were no doubt inspired by the organization’s tribute to late Superfan Mo Gaba. But the Browns can’t afford to start slowly in a division with two legitimate Super Bowl contenders in the Ravens and Steelers.
Social Media Reacts
Nevertheless, NFL fans and media had little sympathy, and social media started in on the Browns while the game was just minutes old.
Baker Mayfield threw an INT on the Browns' first drive of the year 😦
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) September 13, 2020
At one point the Browns found themselves in a 3rd and really long:
The Browns were in a 3rd & 41 situation 😅 pic.twitter.com/56OyLDZENy
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 13, 2020
Being that it was a blowout, one Twitter user suggested that the Ravens “reposition a bunch of their cardboard fans onto the stairs like they’re leaving to try and beat traffic.”
During next commercial break Baltimore should reposition a bunch of their cardboard fans onto the stairs like they're leaving to try and beat traffic. #Browns
— Mike Polk Jr. (@mikepolkjr) September 13, 2020
Then there was this meme, which prompted one Browns Reddit visitor to write: “I just want one season opener where we don’t look like complete dog****. Openers like today’s leave a lasting impression upon the rest of the league—same old Browns.”
“ThE bRoWns WiLl fInAlLy pUt iT tOgEtHeR tHiS YeAr” pic.twitter.com/ZrXaiwkTe6
— NFL Memes (@NFL_Memes) September 13, 2020
Thursday Night Football: Bengals at Browns
The Browns will have a chance to make amends sooner rather than later as Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals visit Cleveland on Thursday night for a nationally televised game. Cincinnati lost its opener, 16-13, to the Los Angeles Chargers, with Bengals placekicker Randy Bullock appearing to injure himself as he missed a potential game-tying 31-yard field goal in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.
— Stadium Times (@stadium_times) September 13, 2020
If you’re a Browns fan and you’re looking for a silver lining, consider the aforementioned 51-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1989 opener. Despite a 41-10 loss to the Bengals in week two that season, the Steelers recovered and went on to make the playoffs, winning the Wild Card game against the Houston Oilers before falling to the Denver Broncos—the AFC’s eventual Super Bowl representative—in the divisional round.
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