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Jim Ingraham: Another miserable season is finally over, so significant changes should be coming

You can come out now.

It’s over.

The NFL’s most talented bad team is done being talented and bad for another year.

Steelers 28, Browns 14.


Did you expect anything else? Me neither.

Steelers 28, Browns 14: Cleveland drops finale, finishes 7-10

So, it’s another last-place finish — for the 14th time in the last 20 years.

Final record: 7-10 — double-digit losses for the 14th time in the last 20 years. They’ve won consecutive games in a season once in their last 30 games.

The good news is the chaos is over for another year, and spring training for the Guardians starts next month.

We all need a break from this football team, including this football team itself. Their games aren’t so much games as endurance tests. This season especially.

It began with ownership, as it usually does when Cleveland’s football team flies off the rails. Prior to the start of the season, in one of the most colossal acts of desperation in the city’s sports history, the team’s overmatched owners traded for a quarterback with elite numbers on the field, a ton of baggage off it and a looming suspension of, at the time, indeterminate length.

Deshaun Watson struggles in season-ending loss but promises ‘future is definitely bright’

The suspension became 11 games, and, despite the efforts of backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who during that time put on a clinic in leadership and professionalism, the Browns lost seven of the 11. That effectively ended their hopes of making enough hay in the season’s final six games to climb over enough of the better-run teams ahead of them in order to reach the playoffs.

On Sunday, loss No. 10 washed ashore from one of Pittsburgh’s three rivers, as the Browns’ tired act expired with their usual season-ending loss to the Steelers. This slap in the face marked the 11th time in this century that the Browns’ regular season ended with a loss to the Steelers.

Not that anybody’s counting, or anything.

Sunday’s debacle had the usual fingerprints, among them: Four first-quarter penalties that temporarily put the Browns on pace for 16 for the game. Alas, they had to settle for only nine.

The Browns offense didn’t venture into Pittsburgh territory until halfway through the second quarter.

Bernie Kosar removed from Browns radio programming after placing public bet

There was the usual Browns defensive blown coverage that resulted in a rookie-to-rookie touchdown pass from Kenny Pickett to George Pickens.

The Browns exploded for a 7-0 lead, then imploded by giving up 20 unanswered points to make it a 20-7 Pittsburgh lead. On the plus side, the Browns held the Steelers defense to just seven sacks of Deshaun Watson, and the Browns only had 45 more penalty yards than the Steelers.

Another silver lining for the Browns: The Steelers, despite their win, failed to make the playoffs. Let them terrible towel that.

For the Browns, the season is over, and an offseason that should be far more interesting begins.

Notes: Kareem Hunt calls tenure with hometown team ‘dream come true,’ excited to see what happens next

Because a season this bad demands changes, and there better be some significant ones. This season was not Stefanski’s best work, but we’re still only two years removed from his best work, which was beating Pittsburgh twice in eight days at the end of the 2020 season.

The Browns’ offensive numbers were better than the results frequently looked, but if there was a statistical category for play callers labeled “out-thought himself,” Stefanski would lead the league. Firing a head coach two years after he was Coach of the Year seems a little hasty, but Stefanski might be on the clock next season.

Defensive coordinator Joe Woods might, and probably should be off the clock sometime soon, for a variety of breakdowns by his troops. It’s impossible, for example, to unsee the end of what should have been a win over the Jets but became a loss when the defense gave up two touchdowns in the last two minutes of the game.

Did some late-season improvement by the special teams save coordinator Mike Priefer’s job? We’re about to find out. But the early season work of that unit left plenty to be desired.

The Browns’ single worst position group was the interior defensive line. Was that due to a lack of talent or was it because defensive line coach Chris Kiffin had his hands full with diva defensive end Jadeveon Clowney?

The defense gave up the eighth-most rushing yards in the league, and only three teams allowed more rushing touchdowns than the 20 allowed by the Browns.

Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt was a coordinator in name only, since not he, but his head coach called the plays. How do you even judge a coordinator in that kind of setup?

If you want to think big when it comes to changes, how about general manager Andrew Berry, whose draft picks too often seem better the day after the draft than a year after the draft?

The only upside about not making the playoffs is it gives you a head start on next year.

So, the Browns have that going for them.


Jim Ingraham is a sports columnist for the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram and the Medina Gazette. Contact him at 329-7135 or and follow him @Jim_Ingraham on Twitter


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