The Cleveland Browns entered 2019 with great expectations after ending 2018 on a high note and adding former New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in March, but they've sputtered to a 5-7 season with the No. 21 scoring offense.
Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com provided insight into why the Browns have encountered significant offensive concerns in a piece Saturday, citing "systemic issues," a "disconnect" between head coach Freddie Kitchens and offensive coordinator Todd Monken and "too many cooks" providing their takes:
"[Beckham is] stuck on an offense that has systemic issues in the way it's designed by the staff in general and called by Freddie Kitchens, according to the sources. There's a disconnect between offensive coordinator Todd Monken, who answers for the offense every Thursday and has jokingly called it his weekly 'dentist appointment,' and Kitchens, who calls the plays on game day with input from Monken, quarterbacks coach Ryan Lindley, and some say even inactive quarterback Drew Stanton.
"Some say the quarterbacks have too much influence in general, and others say there are too many cooks in with Kitchens on game day. They tried to clear the air midseason, but it apparently didn't do much good."
Multiple sources spoke with Cabot and said that the offense is "poorly designed and poorly run, disorganized and one that won't succeed in the future unless changes are made either in terms of coaching, scheme or playcalling."
The Browns have failed to score more than 21 points in eight of their 12 games. Much of their offensive production has been concentrated in a 41-24 win over the Miami Dolphins (467 yards from scrimmage) and a 40-25 victory over the Baltimore Ravens (530 scrimmage yards).
Outside of those two games, the Browns have encountered offensive struggles, even when they fare well on the scoreboard.
Cleveland scored 28 points against the Seattle Seahawks, but quarterback Baker Mayfield threw three interceptions. The Browns posted 23 against the New York Jets but were largely quiet on offense save for an 89-yard Beckham touchdown.
It's a far cry from the end of last season, when the Browns went 5-2 in their last seven games and averaged 22.7 points during that span.
Of note, Mayfield has struggled, seeing dips in completion percentage (63.8 to 60.0), passing yards per attempts (7.7 to 7.2) and quarterback rating (93.7 to 79.9).
Cabot provided more commentary from sources:
"The Browns still believe that Baker Mayfield is the answer, but he hasn't taken that 25% jump that John Dorsey was looking for this season, in part because of the inefficient offense, sources say. The Browns still struggle to get plays in on time, often line up incorrectly, and Landry has occasionally called a timeout to head off disaster. When the Browns go off script, sources say, the play calling suffers."
Cleveland's season isn't over just yet, with the team two games behind the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans for the final AFC wild-card spot (although both hold head-to-head tiebreakers over the Browns right now).
However, the Browns are going to have to run the table and get some help at this point, and that's a tall task given Cleveland's struggling offense plus the loss of defensive end Myles Garrett to a season-ending suspension.
Cleveland will host the 1-11 Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET in FirstEnergy Stadium.