CLEVELAND — While the season may soon be over for the Cleveland Browns, questions about the team and its future will be lingering long after this Sunday's game with the Bengals is over.
Welcome to "The 5th Quarter," your recap of the Cleveland Browns hosted by Jay Crawford and Dave 'Dino' DeNatale.
The Browns were beaten one last time by Ben Roethlisberger as the Steelers toppled Cleveland, 26-14, on Monday Night Football in Pittsburgh. The game showcased the Browns' season-long offensive struggles in front of a nationwide audience.
Here's what the guys focused on during Tuesday's show:
HEAD COACH VS. OFFENSIVE PLAY CALLER: Jay has talked about his belief that Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski needs to give up calling the plays on offense most of the season. As Baker Mayfield continued to throw incompletion after incompletion against the Steelers in the first half, the absence of Nick Chubb in the offensive game plan became apparent.
On ESPN2's "ManningCast" coverage, Peyton and Eli Manning made sure to point out that Chubb was not on the field.
The first half split for the Browns offense was nine rushes for 50 yards compared to 15 passes for 58 yards. Chubb had just four first-half touches. Stefanski told ESPN at halftime he was "resting" his workhorse.
As Jay wrote in his column after the loss, the job of offensive coordinator is a monumental, time-consuming job during the week. It also requires complete and total focus during the game. So does being a head coach.
That's why the job of offensive coordinator exists. Why have one if he's not going to coordinate the offense?
And one other thing to keep in mind: Browns owner Jimmy Haslam loves Peyton Manning and I'm sure values his opinion. If Manning was so adamant that the Browns offense was not operating properly (and he was), then you have to believe that the message will be relayed to the head coach in the offseason.
A MESSY DIVORCE COMING?: Even before the Browns-Steelers game, Baker Mayfield seemed to indicate that there was plenty of friction behind closed doors in Berea. He told ESPN's Alex Smith that dealing with internal issues within the team has been 'tricky' because he's had to 'fix some of the relationships in the building' to 'get everyone on the same page.' Have those relationships truly been fixed? It's hard to know.
Mayfield also spoke with Smith about his season-long struggles with injuries.
“It’s been really hard, to be honest with you. I can’t sugarcoat that,” Mayfield told Smith. “There’s no way around it. You have to take the extra time to get your body in the best position to go out on Sunday’s and find a way to win. "I’ll say this — I did everything I could to get to the point where I felt comfortable enough to play to where I knew I’d help us win games and be healthy enough to do that. If I felt otherwise, I would have told them I couldn’t go.”
Then after the loss, Mayfield made a couple of eye-opening comments. For instance, he seemed to question why the Browns weren't giving rookie right tackle more help. “Obviously their front’s pretty good. It has been for years. But when you’ve got T.J. Watt over there and we’re not giving our rookie tackle a whole lot of help, it’s not going to be good," Mayfield said.
Jay and Dino stated that one of Mayfield's best assets is his swagger. Right now, it's almost completely gone. Can Baker find it in the offseason? Can the Browns afford to wait and hope that he does?
Watch The 5th Quarter in the player above or below
More Browns Coverage:
- Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield won't play vs. Bengals; will have surgery as soon as possible
- Has Baker Mayfield played his final game for the Cleveland Browns?
- Social media rips Cleveland Browns following loss to Pittsburgh Steelers
- Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield says he hasn't always been put in best positions this season
- JIMMY'S TAKE | Cleveland Browns have to face 'very difficult discussions' about what's next for the team after losing season