Cleveland Browns’ 2022 Season Obituary: Deshaun Watson Isn’t Saving This Team

The Cleveland Browns' season is effectively over after losing to the Miami Dolphins, dropping to 3-6 and into last place in the AFC North.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — We come to bury the Cleveland Browns, not to praise them.

The Browns’ season technically still has eight games left. But after Sunday’s 39-17 shellacking at the hands of the Miami Dolphins, their year, for all intents and purposes, is over.

And we say that with the understanding that Deshaun Watson’s return to football is just three weeks off. Doesn’t matter. The Browns, who lost for the fifth time in six games Sunday, will probably be 3-8 then. In that scenario, they’d need to run the table and get some help to sneak into the playoffs.

It’s not happening.

Cleveland Browns Embarrassed by Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins on Sunday exposed all of Cleveland’s flaws on defense. They gained over 300 yards through the air and nearly 200 on the ground.

Miami rang up 29 first downs. The Dolphins didn’t punt for the first time since 2003. Their first seven drives went for 84, 50, 43, 53, 70, 77, and 60 yards.

The Browns allowed 5.9 yards per carry. Tua Tagovailoa completed 78.1% of his pass attempts.

MORE: Are the Dolphins Better Than the Buffalo Bills?

Watson returns to practice this week and is eligible to play beginning Dec. 4. His return will probably help an offense that was held to 20 or fewer points for the third time in Cleveland’s last four games. But can he play nose tackle or cover receivers? That’s the reason the Browns stink.

“I think we’ve just got to own today,” said Kevin Stefanski, who is now 22-20 in his three seasons as Browns coach. “We came up short in every area. We just came up short,
and that’s really frustrating.”

The Browns knew their defense was going to be challenged Sunday. And they knew they might need to win a shootout.

Instead, the offense shot blanks. They averaged just 4.8 yards per play and reached the Dolphins’ red zone on just two of their nine drives. The Browns had three possessions end on failed fourth-down tries.

“[We] knew they were a physical team,” said quarterback Jacoby Brissett. “We just got our ass whupped today. That’s frankly what happened.”

Browns’ playoff hopes on life support

Things get no easier next week when the Browns visit an angry Bills team smarting from a Week 10 choke job against the Minnesota Vikings. After that, they host the resurgent Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

So Watson could be returning to a last-place team when his suspension ends in Week 13. Through Sunday’s 1 p.m. slate, the Browns were the AFC’s 11 seed and two and a half games back of the AFC’s final Wild Card spot.

MORE: The Vikings Beat the Bills in a Statement Game

Games against the Ravens and Bengals still loom. The Browns’ odds of reaching the postseason, per FiveThirtyEight? One in 13.

“It’s difficult, but it’s not impossible,” Browns defensive end Myles Garrett said. “We’re going to go out and play every game like it’s our last because it might as well be.”

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