CLEVELAND — Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens was not happy with the team’s execution in a 13-12 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the “dress rehearsal” third preseason game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida Friday night.
But instead of looking at a specific position or player, Kitchens turned the focus inward on himself and the coaching staff.
“We didn’t line them up and execute wildly good in the run game,” Kitchens said in his postgame press conference.
“The kicking game, defense was about the only thing that executed good tonight. Everything offensively, with the exception of a maybe couple throws and a couple run-after-the-catches, execution was very poor. I did a poor job of preparing them for this third preseason game.”
The Browns struggled to extend drives despite most of the first-team offense playing the whole first half against the Buccaneers.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield completed just 10 of his 26 attempts for 72 yards and an interception on his final throw of the first half while taking one sack for eight lost yards and being flushed out of the pocket on many of his passes.
“We’re going to make corrections,” Kitchens said. “It wasn’t very good all the way around. We’ll have to see what it says, but I promise you, it will get corrected, one way or the other. We had people around the quarterback all day, too. It just wasn’t one position, one anything. The execution wasn’t there, and that’s the whole group. That’s not the quarterback. That’s not the receivers. That’s not the offensive line. That’s not the tight ends.
“We got down there in the red zone, first-and-goal from the five, and we end up kicking a field goal from the 15 or whatever it is. That’s unacceptable. It’s not going to be acceptable, and we’ll figure out why it happened. Bad technique, bad execution, bad plays, bad play call. It could be any damn thing. We’re not placing blame tonight. We’re in this thing together, but we’ll figure out what it is and we’ll fix the problem.”
Mayfield echoed Kitchens’ sentiments following the loss, which dropped the Browns to 2-1 in the preseason.
“Offensively, not well at all,” Mayfield said of the execution of the game plan. “Just not good enough. That starts with me and just goes from there. We’ve got to be able to make plays against a team that’s going to line up and play Cover One. It’s a lot of one-on-ones. We’ve got to be able to make plays.
“It’s the little things. We’ll see on tape. I’m not happy with some of my throws, but we’ll see. We’ve just got to have those little details ironed out. It doesn’t matter who’s in there. We’ve got to be able to click, whoever’s in there.”
Along with going 0 for 4 in red zone trips, the Browns converted just 12 first downs, including four from penalties, and went two for 14 on third down. Conversely, thanks to a strong second-half effort, the Buccaneers went nine of 19 on third down.
“You’re not going to win many games like that,” Kitchens said. “I’m glad this one didn’t count. Everybody’s happy as hell whenever we’re winning these games, and I’m happy as hell when we lose them because they don’t count. Hopefully, we get them out now.”