CINCINNATI — It's all over.
Mercifully, it has come to an end.
This season of high expectations and unparalleled excitement, anticipating a great Cleveland Browns team after they showed so much life and promise at the end of last year, crashes, and the crash has finally hit the ground in Cincinnati.
The Bengals took it to the Browns all day long, winning just their second game of the season 33-23. The question is: Now what?
Black Monday comes up around the NFL. I never thought it was going to visit Cleveland again, at least in the near future. But the future may be right now.
The last three games of the season for the Browns ended horribly, where defensively they could do nothing and offensively—unless they were making big plays—had no plays at all.
Although he played a tough game, Baker Mayfield threw three interceptions in the finale, being his season-ending total to 21. Imagine, a year ago he set the rookie record for most touchdown passes with 27. He is a long way from his rookie year, as he stumbled through a rugged sophomore season.
So the Browns now take a look at the obvious question: Do they bring back Freddie Kitchens? The first-year head coach's seat was hot coming into Sunday, and now it is scalding after yet another loss.
Think about it: Two of those final three defeats came against teams that had horrible records coming in. A three-win Arizona team ran past the Browns, and now a one-win Bengal team beat them in every aspect of the game.
Change is tough, but if it's needed, it has to be made. If they're not 100% behind Freddie Kitchens coming back and don't see some kind of improvement at the end of this season, then you jeopardize next season by being lukewarm in letting him come back.
Yes, change is tough, but if you're going to do it, you must do so right away. Other teams are going to be at the shopping counter looking for head coaches (and perhaps front office help), too. Who knows?
If anyone thought it was going to end this way, and had told you at the start of this season that the Browns were only going to win six games, you would've told them, "Ugh, you're being a downer! You're crazy!" But it happened. I mean, it really happened, and at least we don't have to watch it for another Sunday.
And still, yet again, we're going to go through major changes.
The Browns lost today in Cincinnati, and really lost so much more. Now, it's time to build it back, and it looks like it begins on Monday.
BUD SHAW'S SPORTS SPIN: The end is surely near for Browns coach Freddie Kitchens…right?