Sunday did not go how anyone who wears brown and orange imagined.
The Browns went from leading by 6, to trailing by just two with a quarter to play. They ended up losing by 30.
But contrary to conventional thought, Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was not demoralized after the 43-13 defeat. He believes his team can benefit from such a disappointing loss to open the season.
“Because everybody is going to throw us in the trash, and I think that’s good,” Mayfield explained. “I know what type of men we have in this locker room and quite frankly, I really don’t give a damn what happens on the outside. I know how we’re gonna react, I know what we’re gonna do, how we’re gonna bounce back.”
Check out photos of the Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns
It’s no secret that the Browns spent the majority of the offseason in the A block of every sports talk show in America on a consistent basis. They were the talk of the NFL for months, and were promptly dispatched by double-digits at home.
As the Internet reveled in dancing on the Browns’ Week 1 failure, the players inside Cleveland’s locker room were not panicking, nor were they paying attention to the critics. They understand they dug themselves many holes with their 18 penalties committed (for 182 yards), the most in the history of the franchise. And they know such mistakes will not lead to many wins.
But this game was also closer than the final score indicates, or at least was for 50 of the total 60 minutes played. Outside of the penalties (18 for 182 as opposed to Tennessee’s 6 for 54), the rest of the team stats were very close, almost surprisingly so. And there are still 15 left to play.
“This only counts as one game,” Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens said afterward. “The world is not ending today, contrary to popular belief. Everyone is going to keep believing in the locker room. That is the only thing that matters. That is the only thing that has ever mattered, and we will move forward and get better from here.”
Such a process begins soon after Sunday’s finish, when the coaching staff digests and analyzes the mistakes. There were plenty — decision-making, discipline and technique — but all can be corrected. The Browns will get an extra day to do so because they don’t play again until a week from Monday, in New York.
They’ll need to enter that game prepared and more disciplined than they were Sunday, for the entire nation will be watching.
“We have 15 more games,” Kitchens said. “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. “