CLEVELAND — A crushing loss in a game where the Cleveland Browns were favored by nearly a touchdown got the attention of the coaches, players, and especially the fans, who have seen just one season-opening win since the franchise’s return to the NFL in 1999.
Whatever caused the Browns’ struggles in the 43-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland Sunday, Kitchens is committed to figuring out the problems and working on them in practice ahead of next Monday’s game against the New York Jets.
“We will get it rectified,” Kitchens said. “It counts one time and that is the way we will approach it. The world is not falling right now.
“I know our locker room knows. Hopefully, they know and the fans know the season is not over. We have 15 more games. This is only one. It is very hard to go 16-0. This is one game, and if we can learn more from this game early on, then so be it. It is good. Adversity is hitting early, and we are going to find out what kind of team we have now.”
The Browns committed 18 penalties for 182 lost yards, lost their starting and backup left tackles, Greg Robinson (ejected) and Kendall Lamm (knee injury), in the first half and had an inability to keep upright their quarterback, Baker Mayfield.
The Browns not only committed 18 penalties, but several were personal fouls that cost the team 15 yards each time.
Those 15-yard issues cost the Browns dearly on the Titans’ first possession of the second quarter.
By committing four penalties, including 15-yard violations for unnecessary roughness (Myles Garrett) and roughing the passer (Sheldon Richardson), the Browns gave away 40 free yards, and the Titans took advantage by sustaining an 11-play, 87-yard drive in just over five minutes and finishing off the possession with a Derrick Henry one-yard touchdown run behind right guard.
“That is not the way we want to be represented,” Kitchens said. “We lost our discipline and we lost our composure, but it is one game and we are going to be tested. You either take adversity and run together and run toward each other or you run away.
“I think we have a bunch of guys who are going to run toward each other and we are going to be fine. It is one game. I do not care. It counts on the scoreboard, but each game counts one time. That is the way we are going to approach it.”
Heading into next week’s game against the Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Kitchens is looking for his team to fight through the adversity that comes from less than ideal circumstances.
“We have been just keeping our head down and keep grinding, and that is all you have to do in those situations,” Kitchens said. “Just keep grinding. You are going to catch a break, but if you ever let the score get separated by two and three, those breaks when you catch them do not mean anything or you are never in position to get those breaks.
“That is what happens. You just keep grinding.” I do not care that they went up and hit a screen. I do not care. Our offense has to answer. Then, the defense can give them another chance by stopping them, and then, those breaks, they help you, but not when you fall down 20 and try to answer.”