CLEVELAND — “Execution.”
It took Cleveland Browns coach Freddie Kitchens all of one word to describe what was holding the team back and led to a fourth consecutive loss, a 24-19 setback against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field in Denver last Sunday.
And that is what the first-year coach is looking to improve on throughout the week of practice ahead of Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills at FirstEnergy Stadium, starting with today’s work in Berea.
“We go out every day and try to improve our execution,” Kitchens said after breaking down film of the Browns’ fourth straight loss. “We try to play better on Sundays, and in a lot of areas, we did play better. We just have to execute when we get into the red zone and we have to execute better in critical situations.
“When you get into the red zone, the field shrinks. You have to be more precise in everything you do, whether it is running, blocking, receiving, running routes, throwing, everything. You have to have a better sense of awareness and instincts, so we have to continue to try to get better in those areas.”
On the Browns’ first three trips inside the red zone, they settled for field goals of 39, 30 and 27 yards from rookie kicker Austin Seibert, who extended his consecutive successful attempts streak to 14 straight by going four for four on Sunday.
The Browns turned over the ball on downs on their fourth red-zone appearance when quarterback Baker Mayfield got a less-than-favorable spot on a sneak on fourth-and-one. The Broncos responded to the stop by engineering a 95-yard touchdown drive with 1:06 remaining in the third quarter.
“It is truly just about execution at that point,” Kitchens said. “When the field diminishes, you have to be real precise in your execution and you have to be precise with your landmarks, so the little details can never get lost.
“The closer they actually have to ramp up the details of route running and the precision in routes, throws protections and things because the room for error diminishes when you are down that tight.”
After back-to-back losses on the road to the New England Patriots and Broncos, the Browns are set to return to FirstEnergy Stadium for consecutive home games for the first time this season.
The Browns host the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, November 10, and then, just four days later, welcome the Pittsburgh Steelers to the North Coast for a “Thursday Night Football” matchup between the AFC North Division rivals.
In order for the Browns to make any red-zone trips count against Buffalo and Pittsburgh, Kitchens is focused on making practices even more crisp so problems like overthrows, missed assignments, penalties and turnovers do not impede the chances of winning over the second half of the season.
“We are going to go out this week and continue to try and execute,” Kitchens said. “It falls on different people at different times. We just have to overall do a better job of executing. I thought these guys accepted the challenge last week of cutting down the penalties and turnovers, and that gave us a chance to win. Now, it falls on the execution and executing what is there.
“I think our guys have total confidence that they can get the job done. I think there was never a doubt that we were going to win the game until we did not win the game. Look forward for that to continue. We will put a good plan together. We will go out and execute good and see where we are at the end.”