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News & Notes: Browns 'got to clean up a lot of things' after Dolphins loss

The Browns haven’t minced words about their poor performance Sunday in Miami


Kevin Stefanski did what he could to discuss the myriad of areas that went wrong for the Browns after a sluggish performance in Miami.

The defense showed poor technique and lack of cohesiveness, particularly against the run. The offense never established a rhythm, even after a promising first drive that ended with a touchdown after just four plays. The Browns didn't trail by more than two scores until the second half, but the struggles on both sides of the ball were prevalent for most of the game, a 39-17 defeat.

Losses don't get much tougher to swallow, and with eight games left, the Browns are running out of time to find solutions and position themselves for a playoff run in December.

"We all need to come up with a better plan when you get beat like we got beat," Stefanski said. "I don't think any of us coached well enough. I don't think any of us played well enough when you get that result. That's the truth."

Stefanski gave credit to the Dolphins for limiting the Browns' run game, which was held to 112 rushing yards, their second-lowest total this year — the lowest was the 70-yard output in a 38-15 loss to the Patriots in Week 6. He also gave credit to Miami's own run game, which gashed Cleveland for a season-best 195 yards after having entered Week 10 ranked 29th in the league in yards per game.

Those were perhaps the biggest factors that led to the loss, although the Browns also suffered from poor play in the trenches — QB Jacoby Brissett was sacked three times for 27 yards and was hit 14 times. They also lost the turnover battle, 1-0, after Nick Chubb dropped a fumble in the first quarter.

Not much went right for the Browns, a stark difference compared to the last time they played in Week 8 against the Bengals. A 32-13 win sent them into the bye week feeling optimistic about what they could achieve in the second half of the season, but the focus is now centered around a sense of urgency to rapidly find a solution to avoid another costly blowout defeat.

"We've got to play better offense, defense and special teams," Stefanski said. "When you go down and get the result you got, nothing's good enough. So are people going to be critical of that? Yeah, they should be. That's what being a fan is. We're trying to be self-critical because we have to play better. We have to coach better."

The big question the Browns face now is about whether they have time to correct their woes.

Safety John Johnson III believes so for the defense, but said it will take an elevated mindset from the group to do so.

"Just cut it loose," he said. "Have fun. Enjoy what you're doing and understand why we're doing certain things and do it at a high level. We know what we're going to get. Just understand it and have a calm presence about yourself, and just cut it loose."

Their next opportunity to do so will be in another game on the road against the Bills, a staunch opponent that has shown chinks in their armor the last two weeks after losses to the Jets and Vikings. 

The Browns will look to take advantage of their struggles, but to do that, they first have to correct their own.

"We've got to clean up a lot of things in order to play good football on the road," Stefanski said. "That's just the truth."

Watson returns

In two weeks, Deshaun Watson will start his first game with the Browns as his 11-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy comes to an end.

Starting Monday, Watson is allowed to practice with teammates for the first time since training camp. He's been permitted back at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus since Oct. 10 and has been able to practice with the training staff, as well as attend meetings and meet individually with Stefanski, offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt and quarterbacks coach Drew Petzing.

Stefanski said the Browns have a plan for Watson, but the main goal at QB each week until he is able to play in a game will still revolve around Jacoby Brissett.

"That is the next step for Deshaun is getting out there and being able to practice," Stefanski said. "We as coaches can be out there with him now and work with him, which we haven't been able to do. We'll have a plan for him to start getting ready. Jacoby is the No. 1 priority in getting him ready to play in this game. Whatever we do with Deshaun won't take away from Jacoby's preparation."

Injury Updates

The Browns departed Miami with no serious injuries and said G Wyatt Teller, T Jack Conklin and T Jedrick Wills Jr., who all left the game at some point due to injuries, will be "day to day."

"No major updates on all of those guys," Stefanski said. "I expect them to get better throughout this week."

Stefanski said Wills rolled his ankle, while Teller was removed due to the same calf injury that sidelined him the last two games.

"He just was not feeling like he was at a percentage where he could help us," Stefanski said. "He was battling. He could have gone back in there, but I just didn't feel like where he was with that injury."

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