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Close game failures, only Bears worse, doomed Browns in 2022

2-6 in one score games falls on coaching

Cleveland Browns Offseason Workout Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

There were plenty of things the Cleveland Browns needed to improve from the 2022 season. It starts with QB Deshaun Watson, who must be a top 10-level quarterback in the NFL to live up to his contract. The lack of talent around DE Myles Garrett on the defensive line is another area that just had to improve this season.

As many fans have pointed out, coaching was the other big concern going into the offseason. While analysts may believe in HC Kevin Stefanski, his failure to replace DC Joe Woods and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer was indefensible. Fans, generally, have a lower view of Stefanski.

The Browns failures in close games is one of the biggest reasons for that. Maybe Stefanski should get credit for keeping the team in close games but the fact that only the Chicago Bears, holders of the worst record in the NFL in 2022, had a worse record in one-score games is quite problematic:

Every season, each individual loss can be explained but when looking at the season as a whole it points back to something bigger. Recovering an onside kick, making a field goal and sticking with the run (New York, Los Angeles, New Orleans games) would have led to at least three more victories in close games.

Alas, those failures fall back on Stefanski.

In 2023, Cleveland’s hope is that an improved Watson will help the team score more points and an improved defensive line will keep the other team from scoring. If both of those things happen, the Browns should have a few more victories. If replacing Woods and Priefer with Jim Schwartz and Bubba Ventrone helps the coaching side of things, another victory or two could be in store in 2023.

If Stefanski learns from the team’s failures and changes a few things, the sky is the limit for a very talented roster.

For now, Cleveland fans have reason to doubt Watson, the defense and the coaching staff. The team’s failures in one-score games is just one reason for that but a big one.