When your team loses 43-13, it's never satisfying to hear the head coach say people shouldn't overreact and the team doesn't need to make a bunch of changes, especially when the head coach saying it doesn't have a track record to give you reason to believe him. He's only coached one game and it ended up being a blowout, prompting all kinds of questions about his fitness for the job, how the team looked so unprepared, etc.
But Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens has good reason to send that message to his team and Baker Mayfield to echo it.
The story of the game for the defense was having the Tennessee Titans in position to give the ball back and then committing often a completely avoidable, stupid penalty to give them new life. The first two scoring drives for the Titans featured discipline penalties that gave them substantial yardage, gave them free first downs on third down or both.
The Titans start their first drive at their own 8-yard line and Jermaine Whitehead immediately gives them a free 15 after a 10-yard reception for hitting Marcus Mariota late. The drives ends in a 37-yard field goal. If not for the penalty, that's a 52-yard attempt.
The second Titans scoring drive that resulted in a touchdown featured a dead ball personal foul by Myles Garrett after what would've been third and short. Damarious Randall was called for defensive holding on a 3rd-and-10 play. Sheldon Richardson gets an encroachment penalty on 3rd-and-4.
That's three free first downs and two of them occur in situations where the defense has a chance to get off the field. In all, six Titans first downs were courtesy of Browns defensive penalties. They only had six rushing first downs.
The Browns defense effectively spotted the Titans ten points, which completely changed the scope of the game. The Titans were just two of ten on third downs and Marcus Mariota completed just 14 passes. And it wasn't until Derrick Henry had two carries for 23 yards late in the fourth quarter that the run defense looked vulnerable.
It's difficult to imagine that Denzel Ward will have too many games that are as bad as this one, but the flip side of this was if the Chris Kirksey that played against the Titans is the one they will get most of this season, the team should be extremely encouraged about linebacker as Joe Schobert continues to be great.
Offensively, Baker Mayfield was 22 of 29 for 264 yards and a touchdown entering the fourth quarter. It wasn't pretty and there were mistakes made, but the numbers are more than good enough to win. The fourth quarter was a disaster after he threw that first interception on a throw he just straight missed to Odell Beckham. It became a catastrophe from there.
Beckham looked great even though he only had 7 catches for 71 yards.
Jarvis Landry and Rashard Higgins had a pair of impact receptions each.
Nick Chubb carried the ball 17 times for 75 yards at 4.4 yards per carry.
Like with the defense, the production and efficiency is there, but they have to stop killing themselves with penalties. And they can and will only get better.
The special teams coverage units were great. Jamie Gillan was fantastic in his debut.
Watching film likely didn't require much yelling from the coaching staff as once the players saw it, they likely felt stupid seeing how they killed themselves before the Titans ever had a chance. And if they eliminate those self inflicted wounds, they are going to win and win a lot just like they were supposed to entering the season.