Week 17: Goodnight, Farewell and Amen
Pittsburgh 26, Browns 14
The key moment: !$@$#^#^@%$.
Happiness level (scale of 1-to-10): 0. That was one of the worst regular-season experiences I’ve ever had as a Browns fan, and that covers A LOT of ground.
Where do you even begin with a fiasco like that? I mean, I don’t even know. Do you begin with the 15-yard penalty Jadeveon Clowney got for throwing a shoe? Do you begin with Baker Mayfield breaking before our very eyes? Do you begin with the nation discovering that our guy Kevin Stefanski really might not have any idea what he’s doing?
Maybe we should begin with our guy Kevin Stefanski and his usually so-boring-it’s-entertaining postgame press conference. He was asked right after the game to simply explain what the offensive game plan was on this night. Let’s set up the question with a few simple facts, shall we:
— Fact 1: The Pittsburgh Steelers came into the game with the worst run defense in the NFL.
— Fact 2: The Cleveland Browns have one of the most effective running backs in NFL history in Nick Chubb, who has played four seasons in the league and has averaged five yards or more per carry in each and every one of them.
— Fact 3: The Steelers’ greatest strength, by far, is their pass rush — they came into the game leading the NFL in sacks — and their single most dangerous player, by far, is T.J. Watt, who led the NFL in sacks despite missing two games with injury.
— Fact 4: Because of an unhappy series of injuries and coaching judgments, the Browns’ right tackle — the guy lining up against Watt — was somebody named James Hudson, a fourth-round pick out of Cincinnati who according to pretty much every scouting report has potential but is particularly raw.
— Fact 5: Baker Mayfield was coming off a four-interception game where he looked more or less helpless — so much so that The QB School did a depressing but all-too-revealing 34-minute video called “How Baker Hurts This Team.”