CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas may have finally had enough with the losing culture.
Following Sunday’s 24-9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium, Thomas was asked about making a mandate to the front office to infuse talent onto a roster that boasts more than two dozen players with three or less years of NFL experience. And rather than holding the company line, Thomas expressed frustration over the fact that center Alex Mack and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz were allowed to walk away in free agency without a viable replacement on the roster.
“We lost a couple really good players,” said Thomas, a nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle. “I think the best at their position, but that was our strategy in the offseason. That was what we decided to do, and you’ve got to lie in the bed you made. I don’t make the decision on who comes and who goes, so that’s not something I can concern myself with.
“For me, it’s all about trying to do my job to the best of my ability and do everything I can to help our team win. The guys that are making the personnel decisions, they’re the experts on that, so they’re the ones that have to make those decisions and live with those decisions when they’re made.”
The veteran-laden Steelers showed their physical superiority over the much younger Browns and registered eight sacks in the lopsided win. Both Cody Kessler and Josh McCown absorbed the punishment of four sacks each.
Six players registered sacks against the Browns, led by the 2.5 by Stephon Tuitt, and Pittsburgh’s top two tacklers, Ryan Shazier and Lawrence Timmons each tallied one apiece. Shazier added a forced fumble that was recovered by nose tackle Javon Hargrave in the end zone for a touchdown.
Prior to the win over the Browns, the Steelers had just 13 sacks on the entire season.
“Obviously, we have to do a better job of protecting the quarterback,” Thomas said.
Kessler exited the loss to the Steelers after the third quarter of play due to a concussion, his second such injury during the regular season.
On the final play of the third quarter, Kessler took a snap from under center at the Browns’ 25-yard line and avoided the initial pass rush by escaping to the right of the formation and launching a 16-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman.
However, as Kessler let go of the ball, he was getting pulled down by Shazier and got leveled by Timmons. The hit drove Kessler’s head into the ground and he was finished for the game.
The Browns went through six quarterbacks during the first five games of the regular season.
“It’s always a concerted effort,” Thomas said. “It’s the line getting against the guys that we want to be on. It’s the running backs knowing who they are blocking. It’s the quarterbacks understanding who we are blocking and readjusting the protection. We haven’t been on the same page enough.”