The Browns have committed more penalties for more yards than any team in the league. First-year coach Freddie Kitchens called it the result of poor focus and concentration.
He then explained Monday why one infraction during Sunday's 27-13 loss to the Patriots was intentional.
The Browns, trailing by 17 points in the fourth quarter, were facing fourth-and-11 at their own 24, when their punt team took the field. The only problem was, Kitchens wanted to go for it. He also didn't want to burn his final timeout. His solution: have the punt team intentionally false start and have his offense try to convert fourth-and-16.
"Sometimes in the course of action with punt teams, sometimes they're used to, when you're at your own 25 or whatever we were, just fourth-and-11, they're running on the field," Kitchens said. "The buck stops with me. I should not have let that happened. But once the punt team was out there, there were two choices: Use your last timeout or take a penalty. And I decided to take a penalty."
The Browns took 13 of them for 85 yards at New England. They've taken 70 for 591 yards this season, an average of 10 for 84.4 yards per game. Kitchens believes the chronic penalties have been the difference between winning and losing for the 2-5 Browns, who have lost three games by at least 14 points but two by a possession.
"Expect to clean up a bunch of that this week," he said. "Been focused and trying to clean those up and it hasn't gotten done yet. So we've got to continue to harp on it. Each individual has to make a commitment to doing that on an every-day basis. That's where it's going to start because you have no chance to win the game if you do those things which is very evident. ...
"It's a commitment that they have to have to each other and accountability to each other because it's very evident that it's costing us football games. So when they decide that it will change. We're going to do things to speed up that process, which we have been doing. Everybody understands the problems, we're going to work to fix the problems."
There sure are many of them, especially for a team billed as a contender before the season. September to Cleveland must feel like so long, and so many penalties, ago.