Freddie Kitchens lambastes an offense that fell flat in Florida but sees a bright spot.

With the preseason coming to a boil, Freddie Kitchens sent a message to an attack that froze in Florida.

"It's time for the offense to pick it up," the Browns head coach said on the Saturday after a no-touchdown loss to Tampa Bay.

Running backs Kareem Hunt and D'Ernest Johnson each carried five times, producing a combined 2.1 per-carry average. Quarterback Baker Mayfield threw 16 incomplete passes, and only one of his 10 completions went for more than 10 yards.

Kitchens avoided saying Mayfield will be fine when Odell Beckham Jr., Nick Chubb and Jarvis Landry are out there. None played a down in Tampa. He made it clear too many guys who did play were NOT fine.

A day after his preseason record fell to 2-1, the new boss said, "It was people not being where they're supposed to be, when they're supposed to be there, with some day one install type of things.

"We have to be in rhythm on routes and at proper depth. There were several instances where we didn't get we were supposed to. Our protection was a little off.

"It was a recipe for disaster all the way around."

Kitchens alluded to himself and offensive coaches in saying the Browns have two weeks to come around before facing the Titans in the opener.

"I don't know what the disconnect was," he said. "It's very clear we've gotta figure out if, as a staff, we're asking them to do too much. But some of the stuff we weren't right on we've been doing for several months now."

A hidden aspect of the game was Johnson's continued push to beat out Dontrell Hilliard as the backup to Chubb at running back. While Johnson's five carries included one 5-yard gain and virtually nothing on four others, he caught all three passes for which he was targeted, turning them into 43 yards.

Johnson was the team leader in rushing-receiving yards a second straight game.

The wideout corps mostly was a mess. Rashard Higgins, Derrick Willies and Jaelen Strong were targeted a combined 20 times. They totaled only seven catches, netting 45 yards.

"We've left the hotel and broken camp," Kitchens said, "but we should be in the mode of getting better."

Kitchens did say wideout Braxton Miller, acquired last week, was "a bright spot."

The former Ohio State player from Huber Heights Wayne High School led off a drive in the fourth quarter with two catches netting 11 yards, from No. 3 quarterback David Blough. That led to Austin Seibert's fourth field goal and a 12-10 lead.

Kitchens neither sounded overly concerned about Mayfield nor gave him a complete pass.

"I don't think he played as well as he would have liked, or I would have liked," Kitchens said. "He's got to try to get better, too, each and every day."

The improvements will be attempted mostly in practice, in that starters are not expected to play in Thursday's preseason finale against Detroit.

 

Reach Steve at 330-580-8347 or steve.doerschuk@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @sdoerschukREP