- Corey Coleman was one of the final players to file out of the visiting locker room following Sunday’s 28-24 loss to the Steelers. As players showered and dispersed following the team’s 16th and final loss of the season, the second-year wide receiver sat at his locker, head in hands, as numerous teammates offered their support.
Coleman’s drop on a fourth-down pass from DeShone Kizer with less than 2 minutes to play effectively ended Cleveland’s hopes of upsetting the rival Steelers. Coleman said he took his eyes off the ball as a defender charged toward him. It was a play, he said, he had to make, and it would be one that sticks with him “forever.”
“I can talk about a play or so I didn’t make in college. I still remember those to this day,” Coleman said. “I’ve got to look past this and move forward and have a great offseason and come back even stronger.”
In his post-game press conference, Browns coach Hue Jackson said he’d yet to meet with Coleman but planned to “put my arms around him and say, ‘You have to make those plays.’”
“He knows that. It’s tough. That’s a tough situation to be in,” Jackson said. “He didn’t make it. There you go. That play will be remembered.”
Coleman, who had a pivotal 18-yard catch on third down to extend a Browns’ scoring drive in the third quarter, finished his second season with 23 catches, 305 yards and two touchdowns in eight games. He missed the other eight games with a broken hand.
- Kizer notched career highs in passing yards (314) and rushing yards (61) in the losing effort. His 61 yards on the ground gave him 419 on the season, the most-ever by a Browns quarterback.
Kizer also threw his two longest passes of the season in the loss, connecting with Josh Gordon for 54 yards on a play that set up Cleveland’s first touchdown and 56 yards on a touchdown pass to Rashard Higgins.
“He did some good things, but obviously he missed some plays, too,” Jackson said, referring to a costly fourth-quarter interception. “He’s still young. He’s a still a young player who’s trying his butt off. I don’t fault any of our guys for their effort. We just have to become a smarter team. We have to become smarter NFL football players. Again, I appreciate everything those guys have done. They’ve fought all year. We just don’t have enough right now. We’ll get there.”
Kizer, while disappointed by the team’s overall performance this season and the role he played in it, was optimistic about his personal growth. He plans to do a thorough self-scout to see how far he’s come and how far he still needs to go as an NFL quarterback.
“I believe that I’ve learned a lot about myself,” Kizer said. “I’ve learned a lot about this game and how difficult it is to win. I think I’ve become a better leader, a better man of faith and a better quarterback overall.”
- Jackson said he planned to watch the film of Sunday’s loss before meeting with each player on the roster, one-on-one, before they depart for the offseason. Jackson, too, plans to take a step away from football for a few days before ramping up his preparations for 2018.
Jackson said he plans to evaluate the roster from top to bottom as well as his coaching staff.
“We have a heck of a challenge in front of us,” Jackson said. “But I think we have the right people in place to get the job done. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”
The Browns play the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 17.