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‘We did not win enough.’ Freddie Kitchens laments Cleveland Browns’ struggles in 2019

Coach Freddie Kitchens and the Cleveland Browns are not where they want to be heading into Sunday's regular-season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals.

CLEVELAND — It has long been said that winning cures a lot of ills, especially in the National Football League, and the Cleveland Browns have learned that the hard way during the 2019 regular season.

While the Browns matched their losses with wins over the first four weeks of the season and rattled off a three-game winning streak after dropping to 2-6, a run that got them back into the playoff conversation for an extra three weeks, consistency has been a problem plaguing the team.

“If you win enough, you go to the playoffs,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said. “We did not win enough this year. We still had a chance. We had a chance to win the game, and we did not make enough plays to win the game.

“I think we had seven big plays the way we classify big plays against Baltimore in the first game and gave up four. [Sunday], it was flipped. We created three, and we allowed them to get seven. At the end of the day, that is the difference in the game.”

Credit: AP
Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens walks on the field in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Cleveland. The Ravens won 31-15. (AP Photo/David Richard)

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For the 17th consecutive season, the Browns failed to qualify for the playoffs.

The Browns officially were eliminated from postseason contention with their 31-15 loss to the AFC North Division champion Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland last Sunday, a game that allowed Baltimore to clinch home-field advantage for as long as they remain in the playoffs.

The Browns (6-9) last qualified for postseason play during the 2002 season.

“We have a young core here that is experiencing life in the NFL for the first time, the first couple of years navigating through expectations that sometimes, the outside puts on you,” Kitchens said.

“I think we have done a better and better job of that during the course of the year, realizing how you temper those expectations.”

Credit: David Richard/AP
Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens answers questions after the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Cleveland Browns 31-15 in an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Cleveland.

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The Browns have been battling discipline issues all season, evidenced by the near record pace for penalties that they were on for the first half of the year and both team and league-mandated suspensions for actions on and off the field.

Because of that, Kitchens’ future with the club has been called into question for 2020 and beyond, and while he understands the inquiries come with the job, the first-year head coach is worried about the next challenge on the schedule: Sunday’s season finale at the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I would say those questions stem more form you guys asking those questions and you rightly should ask,” Kitchens said. “It is just I only concern myself with the job I am doing and how I get this football team to play well on Sunday.

“That is truly the only thing I worry about. That is it. I do not care about the speculation. I do not care about anything that is out of my control. I only care about the things I can control and that is how I approach my job today and how I get my team ready to play on Sunday.

“I think every decision I make is made in the best interest of this football team. I am never close-minded on anything. This is what I felt like gives us the best chance to win right now.”

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