Bills meet with un­der­whelm­ing Browns

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS - By Tom Withers AP Sports Writer

CLEVE­LAND (AP) >> Fred­die Kitchens sold cars in Alabama be­fore he got into coach­ing. He may soon have to rely on those sales skills to make a case for keep­ing his job.

The Browns’ first-year coach, whose se­lec­tion was met with some skep­ti­cism be­cause of his lack of ex­pe­ri­ence, could be down to his fi­nal games if Cleve­land doesn’t turn around a sea­son that has de­railed af­ter be­gin­ning with sky-high op­ti­mism.

Handed a tal­ented team, Kitchens hasn’t been able to mold the Browns (2-6) into any­thing close to re­sem­bling a play­off con­tender. He’s got time, but it could be run­ning short and a win over the Buf­falo Bills (6-2) on Sun­day would go a long way to help­ing him cool the hot seat he’s cur­rently oc­cu­py­ing.

The Browns have lost four straight games and are win­less at home. But more trou­bling for their fans, gen­eral man­ager John Dorsey and own­ers Dee and Jimmy Haslam, who green

a team that has played with lit­tle dis­ci­pline or co­he­sion since Week 1 and quar­ter­back Baker May­field seems to be re­gress­ing.

One week, it’s too many turnovers. The next, dumb penal­ties or ques­tion­able play-call­ing. Last week in Den­ver, it was a lack of ex­e­cu­tion in the red zone along with silly and scary dis­trac­tions.

Fair or not, Kitchens is tak­ing the heat for all of the Browns’ many im­per­fec­tions.

While there are prob­lems, left guard Joel Bi­to­nio doesn’t think Kitchens should be blamed for ev­ery­thing. Af­ter all, he wasn’t the one tout­ing the Browns as a Su­per Bowl con­tender.

“It’s a tough spot,” said Bi­to­nio, one of the team’s cap­tains. “You come into a team that has high ex­pec­ta­tions. You have a sec­ond-year quar­ter­back. You have some new play­ers who have big per­son­al­i­ties, but in con­trol­ling that I think he’s done a good job. Our locker room, we’ve had good morale. It’s not like we’re in a bad space. We feel good about it, now we just got to do the job on the field.”

The Browns are hav­ing is­sues. The Bills are hav­ing fun.

They’ve been one of the league’s big­gest sur­prises, off to their best eight-game start since 1993. Sec­ondyear quar­ter­back Josh Allen is de­vel­op­ing as hoped and the Bills are do­ing just enough to win.

But de­spite their suc­cess in the sea­son’s first half, the Bills aren’t be­ing viewed as le­git­i­mate mostly be­cause of their sched­ule. Buf­falo’s six wins have come against op­po­nents with a com­bined 9-44 record.

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