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Browns striving to 'make the most of our opportunities' on both sides of the ball

From turnovers to lack of offensive rhythm, the Browns are looking at all angles to get better results

Kevin Stefanski kept his explanation simple when he discussed the errors he saw in his Monday morning film review.

The reasons behind the Browns' 15-10 loss to the Steelers on Sunday were evenly spread among position groups, players and play calls that hurt the Browns in their first division game of the year. Big problems were prevalent on offense and defense, and Stefanski thinks the one main takeaway from the loss applies to all pieces of the roster.

"We have to make the most of our opportunities," he said. "I've seen some really good moments from this group. I know what we're capable of. We haven't done it consistently enough."

Consistency has been tough to find on both sides of the ball as the Browns enter the second half of the season. Sunday only amplified those concerns even more as the offense struggled to sustain most of their drives, while a few second-half slips from the defense and lack of turnovers made a tough challenge against Pittsburgh even tougher.

Stefanski was asked about all those angles Monday. His response — the need to capitalize on missed opportunities — didn't change. 

The answers as to how the Browns address the problems, though, will.

"There's never one answer to all of it," he said. "There's certainly schematic things we can do. There's certainly plays the guys can make."

Check out the best photos from the Browns game against the Steelers yesterday by the Browns photo team

Stefanski acknowledged Monday that the offense could've done a lot more to create explosive plays in the passing game. The Browns mustered only 306 yards of total offense, and their most explosive play of the afternoon was a 24-yard pass in the fourth quarter to David Njoku. Receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. were held to 71 combined receiving yards — Beckham accounted for six of those and was only targeted twice.

Stefanski was effusive in taking ownership for the lack of production Beckham has seen since he made his season debut in Week 3. He's averaged just under six targets and 40 receiving yards per game and hasn't recorded a touchdown, a result Stefanski said stems from the tight coverage defenses often show against Beckham.

"I need to do a better job. I really do," Stefanski said. "I need to make sure that I put him in position to make some plays, and I didn't do a good enough job. 

"Having said that, he gets a lot of attention from the defense. There were a bunch of plays where the safety is cheating to him, and that opens up opportunities for other guys."

Stefanski mentioned one instance where Landry was open because of coverage floating to Beckham's side. Landry made a reception on the play, but those types of opportunities don't occur on every passing play, and Stefanski knows that must change to bring the passing attack to the level the Browns expected before the season.

"(Beckham's) effect on our offense is there," he said, "but I do need to do a better job of making sure the ball makes its way into his hands."

The lack of a passing rhythm likely limited opportunities in the run game, too. Running back Nick Chubb was held to a season-low 61 rushing yards, while the Browns' entire run game finished with 96 yards, the second time Cleveland hasn't topped 100 rushing yards in a game this season.

Stefanski credited the Steelers' game plan toward holding Chubb and fellow back D'Ernest Johnson on most of their carries, but a good game plan is still no excuse for underperformance from one of the top rushing rooms in the league.

"That's a physical front," Stefanski said. "They did a nice job against our run game, knocking us back a lot of times. We just have to find ways to run the ball versus a tough front."

Defensively, Stefanski believes the group missed one type of opportunity in particular: takeaways. The Browns recorded none of them and lost the turnover battle, 1-0, as a result, and they certainly could've changed that on a few occasions.

A dropped interception following a collision between linebacker Malcolm Smith and safety Grant Delpit sticks out most. Defensive end Myles Garrett pointed out in his postgame interview, too, that the defense couldn't pry a ball loose from RB Najee Harris on one play where he was juggling the ball as he was being tackled.

The defense ranks 30th in the league in takeaways after eight games. The Browns feel as though they can only go up, and they know they have too many playmakers for that change to not happen.

"While we were good in moments, we've got to take the ball away," Stefanski said. "We didn't do that yesterday. We've got to find a way on some of those drives to get off the field."

It already appears as though the Browns are placing a major emphasis on turnovers in their defensive room this week. Cornerback Greg Newsome II echoed Stefanski's remarks throughout his interview Monday, too, and believes the turnovers will eventually arrive.

"Every single day at practice, it's stressed, just emphasizing trying to get the ball out," he said. "We just have to keep doing it at practice, and then hopefully, it translates to the games. Some of those balls will eventually come out."

Those takeaways will lead to even more opportunities for the offense. That's how complementary football is played, and that's what the Browns have been hoping to accomplish since the start of the offseason.

It hasn't arrived on a consistent basis yet. Stefanski knows that must change for them to right the ship and remove themselves from the bottom of the division, and the onus is on everyone to find solutions toward making it happen.

"I have to put guys in position to go make a play," he said. "We have opportunities where I have to come through for the players, and we have to make a play in certain situations."

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