The Cleveland Browns were officially eliminated from the 2021 NFL playoffs on Sunday.
With a 7-8 record heading into their final two games, the Browns needed outside help to get into the playoffs.
The best path required the Kansas City Chiefs to beat the Cincinnati Bengals which did not happen.
Many argue that the Browns have been doomed for weeks or maybe even months so it is not a complete surprise.
Here are a few of the issues that plagued the Browns in 2021 in no particular order.
From #SuperBowl aspirations to a dumpster fire of a season, the #Browns have been eliminated from the playoffs. Poor coaching/terrible play calling, horrible QB play, unhappy players, awful wide receivers, injuries & Covid issues all added up to a crappy year! #DraftTimeNow pic.twitter.com/CdfNEC0HQi
— Kenny "The Roadman" Roda🎙🎧📻🏈⚾️🏀🏒⚽️ (@TheKennyRoda) January 3, 2022
It should be noted that some of these issues were exclusively dealt to the Browns.
Other teams managed to work through them.
Injuries And COVID-19
The #Browns are not making the playoffs. Between injuries, covid, and many other issues, this team struggled. I wanted to believe the hype, but just could not. Time to focus on the draft and next season.
— Michael Mitchell (@mmitchell25) January 3, 2022
These two are lumped together because they resulted in significant players missing playing time.
The Browns utilized third string and practice squad players this year more than ever.
Baker Mayfield‘s injury woes started in Week 2.
The Browns also lost their head coach for one game because of COVID-19.
It has been a turbulent year of reviewing the Reserve/COVID-19 list and the injury report; sometimes the easier task was figuring out who was not on either of these lists.
Losing Close Games
When the Browns were officially eliminated from the playoffs, fans could not help but wonder what if.
If the Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, first Baltimore Ravens meeting, and the Green Bay Packers games had gone the other way, this team would have run away with the AFC North.
The Browns had too many late-game losses.
We needed that win over the Chiefs 16 weeks ago
Baker had a chance to win every one with ball in hand and couldn't do it & that's why we had a let down season
Every team has injuries and covid issues but they over come it &we don’t #Browns
— Cavs won the best NBA 🏆 (@CLEsportsfan_) January 2, 2022
To be a playoff-caliber team, when the opportunity to win the game presents itself, players and teams must seize it.
Some of these losses stem from either slow starts or not playing dominant football for four quarters.
There are arguably very few games which the Browns took control of from the start and never looked back.
Locker Room Issues And Social Media
Perhaps even more crippling to the Browns were the apparent issues in the locker room.
Odell Beckham Jr.’s father tore the seams of unity from this team.
It certainly seems as though the video that led to OBJ’s exit from the team left some underlying ill feelings.
We may never know the discord in this locker room in 2021, but it did not stop there.
Hunt’s father had some social media criticism of Mayfield.
An injured John Johnson III and Emily Mayfield shared harsh words, either their own personal ones or words from others.
Social media and players’ family members did not mix well this year for the Browns.
Play Calling And Special Teams
My biggest issues with the #browns season this year in order of importance
1. Play calling
— Amanda (@MandyCakes311) January 2, 2022
There is a valid argument that the Browns played not to lose rather than played to win in certain situations during the games.
At some points, going with the bread-and-butter of running the ball while it is working is a good choice over what the analytics may say.
As for special teams, name any Browns kicker this season who did not disappoint.
That’s right; there are none.
That extends to the punter as well since Jamie Gillan‘s error in Week 1 cost the Browns the game and started the season off on very bad special teams footing.
There is a reckoning coming for the Browns in the offseason.
This was a very deep and talented roster that fell quite short of expectations.
It will be interesting to see how the Browns rebuild and rebound from a 2021 letdown.