CLEVELAND – Receiver Kenny Britt finds new ways every week to hurt the Browns, frustrate coach Hue Jackson and infuriate fans.
On Sunday, it was a pass he should’ve caught turning into a red zone interception, a false start and a slip that caused an incompletion during a 31-7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Jackson considered benching Britt after a critical fourth-quarter drop in the opening loss to Pittsburgh but said he had no such option Sunday. No. 1 receiver Corey Coleman (broken hand) is on injured reserve, Sammie Coates (hamstring) was inactive and Jordan Leslie (hamstring) left the game in the second quarter.
“We had to put him back out there,” Jackson said. “It is unfortunate. I think Kenny is trying hard. I do. Obviously, it is not happening for him in some situations.
“It is tough because we need those plays when we have an opportunity to make them.”
The fans let Britt have it with cascades of boos for every mistake and sarcastic cheers when he managed to hang on for three catches. They’ve seen Britt do nothing to warrant the four-year, $32.5 million contract he signed in the offseason that includes $17 million guaranteed.
Britt said the boos didn’t bother him.
“No, not all. The only thing I’m focused on and really care about is those guys that are on the field with me and that’s what really matters,” he said. “We know we’re not going to give up on each other and we know that the game’s not going the way we want it to. So if we listen to boos or we get down, it’s going to just get worse.
“These are four games, you’re learning a lot from your team and you grow. We’re going to get better. Good teams get better in November and December, but we’ve got to start now in October.”
The biggest blunder was being surprised by a DeShone Kizer pass on an in route with 10:07 left in the first half. The pass went through Britt’s hands, bounced off his shoulder, ricocheted into the air and was grabbed by safety Clayton Fejedelem at the Cincinnati 7-yard line.
“That was definitely clearly on me,” Britt said. “Ball came on me faster than I thought it would, and that’s something I should have.
“It is a drive killer and a momentum killer for our team. We are going down there to score and then we get a turnover. Something that should never have happened in the first place. That kills us and they get the ball and then drive it down there and score. That’s even worse. We can’t put our defense in that position especially. We got the ball, and we were going to drive it for a touchdown.”
Britt moved before the snap for a false start on the opening possession, turning a third-and-3 into third-and-8. The Browns didn’t convert and punted.
“It’s kind of hard out there,” he said. “You know the snap count, but when a guy says ‘hut, hut’ it’s kind of hard, especially when you’ve got guys on the other side moving, but that killed us right there. That killed the momentum as well.”
The other big slipup was an actual slip.
On third-and-10 from the Cincinnati 30 on the second possession, Britt ran a comeback, was open for a first down and Kizer made a good throw. But Britt slipped and couldn’t catch the ball that hit his hands.
“That kind of sucked,” he said. “I actually knew the ball was coming, I probably got too excited and slipped up.”
Britt had three catches for 52 yards, giving him 5,002 for his nine-year career. He’s coming off his lone 1,000-yard season with the Rams but has just eight catches for 121 yards and a touchdown.
He said he’ll continue to work and that Kizer will continue to throw him the ball.
“He knows the type of player I am regardless of the drops or what’s happening,” Britt said. “He’s going to come back and he has confidence in me.”
Kizer went 16-for-34 for 118 yards, an interception, a sack and a 43.5 rating. He said the entire offense needs to perform better.
“You have to execute, all 11 guys out there doing their job every snap,” he said. “In order to do well in this league, it has to be every rep. It can’t be spurts. It can’t be here and there.
“You start to see, obviously, throughout these games how many plays can pile up to turn into negativity. It is on us once again to do our job every time we go step out there to drive the ball down the field and win games.”
Britt said embarrassing was the right word to describe the loss and the 0-4 start.
“Yeah, because we know where we’re at and we know where we could be and we’re not there just yet,” he said. “But one thing about this team, I know we’re going to pick it right back up tomorrow morning and keep going.”