Game Plan, Horrible QB Play Are Today’s Culprits For Browns.

Sometimes what the Cleveland Browns do can’t be described in words.

The Jacksonville Jaguars pretty much did nothing on offense the entire day, yet somehow managed to put 19 points on the board in a 19-7 win over the Browns at First Energy Stadium.

The Browns are now 0-10 on the season.

Let’s start with a crazy game plan by the “quarterback whisperer”, Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson.

The Jaguars rank #1 in the NFL in pass defense by yardage, and are 25th in rush defense.  So, in a game that was pretty much a three point spread the entire game, the Browns ran the ball 18 times and threw it 32 times.

Of those 18 rushing attempts, five were by DeShone Kizer, and we remember only two were designed runs, and throw in five sacks by Jacksonville, and really, Cleveland called 37 passes and just 16 runs.

Does that make any sense at all?

If you are going to throw against the Jags, the time to do it is on first down, when they are playing a base defense.

On the Browns’ lone TD drive, they threw on first down three times, moving the ball 66 yards in five plays.  The touchdown itself was on a first down throw, a 27 yard strike to Duke Johnson.

The next time the Browns got the football, they ran on first down.  The following possession?  Again, a run on first down.  When they got the ball again, once again, they ran the football on first down.

When they threw the ball on first down again, the result was a 14 yard gain on a pass to Corey Coleman, who did catch 6 passes for 80 yards.

We aren’t advocating passing every time on first down, but if you don’t gain yardage doing it, you are playing right into the Jaguars’ plans by throwing in obvious passing situations.  If you don’t gain yardage on first down, run it again on second down and see what you get.

Then you have Kizer’s performance which can basically be described as horrific.

He threw two bad interceptions, the second on a throw we aren’t sure who it was intended for, and fumbled twice as well, including the play which ended the Browns’ hopes for a win.

And that play was set up on a terrible decision after Cleveland got a first down on the Jags’ 40.

Kizer was rushed, stepped up in the pocket, and looked like he could have run for at least ten yards, keeping momentum on the drive.

Instead, he made an ill-advised heave down the field into coverage, and was lucky the ball wasn’t picked off.

You would think he would have more awareness by this point in the year.

Also, think about the countless throws behind receivers or too low for them, particularly when they could have gained yardage if the ball was thrown properly.

We aren’t saying every throw should be perfect, but the rap on Kizer coming out of Notre Dame was inaccuracy, and that hasn’t been fixed.

Other things to note.  David Njoku and Seth DeValve, two players we believe can make plays, caught a total of two passes.  Johnson, another playmaker, touched the ball six times.

Jabrill Peppers fumbled two punts.  His confidence appears to be very shaky.

The defense performed admirably despite being on the field for 36 minutes due to the abominable offensive showing.

Despite claims by the media that they really aren’t good players, Emmanuel Ogbah and Danny Shelton look pretty good to us.

Cincinnati is the next opponent for the Browns, this one in the Queen City, and it is a winnable game.

However, the turnovers have to cease.  Jackson’s team hasn’t won the turnover battle once this year and has been even just twice.  You simply can’t keep shooting yourself in the foot.

JD

 

 

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Two Big Errors Sink The Browns In Motor City.

The Cleveland Browns came out of their bye week like they were a different team.  After kicking off to start the game, the defense caused a loss on each of the first three plays.

The offense converted the punt into a field goal, and on Detroit’s next possession, Jamie Collins intercepted, and this time, DeShone Kizer got the Browns into the end zone courtesy of a 19 yard TD pass to Kenny Britt.

Then they remembered they were the Browns and were outscored by the Lions 38-14 the rest of the game, losing their ninth straight contest, 38-24.

Actually, Hue Jackson’s crew was quite competitive, outgaining the Lions 413-345 yards for the game, and grinding out over 200 yards (201) on the ground, averaging 6.2 yards per carry.

However, three key mistakes were made by the Browns, and were a huge factor in keeping the team out of the win column.

First was a fumble by TE Seth DeValve with the score 10-10.  Nevin Lawson picked up the loose ball and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown to give Detroit a 17-10 lead.

The second was what only can be called a fiasco at the end of the first half.  Following the aforementioned fumble, Kizer marched the Browns down the field in ten plays, and when the quarterback scrambled for 18 yards to the Lions’ 2 yard line with 19 seconds left, Jackson’s team looked poised to tie the game going into halftime.

After an incomplete pass on first down, the QB decided to audible to a quarterback running play with no timeouts left, instead of passing where an incomplete pass would stop the clock.

Kizer was stopped, the Lions took their sweet time lining up, and Cleveland came away with no points, where they should have had at least three.

Any chance for a comeback ended late in the 4th quarter when Kizer threw another red zone interception when they could have closed to 38-31 and have a possible onside kick.

Cleveland has not had one game this year where they won the turnover battle.  They have lost in this category in seven of the nine games played, with it being even twice, vs. Pittsburgh in the season opener, a 21-18 loss, and in the shellacking (31-7) against Cincinnati.

The defense has had just one game with more than one turnover caused, in week two against the Ravens.

Today, the defense got off to a good start as mentioned above, but they allowed way too many big plays, two runs of over 20 yards and three pass plays over 29 yards.  That made it way too easy for Matthew Stafford.

Lions S Glover Quin said after the game that the Browns had more athletes than 24 of the 32 NFL teams, and one of those athletes continues to not get the ball, TE David Njoku.

Yes, the rookie dropped two passes, but he caught just one pass for three yards.

And once again, when the Lions got a touchdown lead in the second half, Jackson abandoned the running game, especially curious because Kizer was out of the game nursing some bruised ribs.

Five out of the six plays following the score which gave Detroit a 31-24 lead where passes.  Keep in mind, the Browns ran for over 200 yards in the game.

Next week, one of the surprise teams in the NFL, Jacksonville (6-3) comes to First Energy Stadium.  The Jaguars are using the blueprint many thought the Browns would use this season, that is, running the ball and playing defense.

At least the Browns are putting a good half together.  Unfortunately, the last two weeks they’ve been outclassed in the second half.

JD

 

 

Might Be Unpopular, But It’s Time For Hue To Go.

The Cleveland Browns played a competitive game for three quarters last Sunday in London, before their defense tired and they lost by 17 to Minnesota.

So far, that loss has been the highlight of the week.

Monday, the New England Patriots traded reserve QB Jimmy Garoppolo to another 0-8 team, the San Francisco 49ers for a second round pick.  The Browns had interest in Garoppolo last spring, but the Patriots didn’t want to make a deal.

Then came the fiasco on Tuesday, in which, supposedly the team was dealing two picks (2nd and 3rd rounders) to Cincinnati for their backup QB, A.J. McCarron.

Yes, a guy who sits behind Andy Dalton.

However, allegedly a paperwork snafu nixed the deal, which is good because it’s not a good trade for the Browns.

The organization is looking bad and it appears the coaching staff is leaking tales of organizational dysfunction to the media.

Our solution is simple.  It’s time to fire Hue Jackson.

There is an obvious disconnect between the front office and the coaching staff, and quite frankly in our opinion, Jackson isn’t living up to his end of the bargain.

Most football people felt the best way to protect a 21-year-old rookie quarterback would be to run the ball and play solid defense.  No one expected a .500 season, but that formula should get the Browns a few victories, an improvement over last year’s single win.

This is a football team that really lost one player who was a major contributor a year ago, WR Terrelle Pryor.  They added two free agent offensive linemen, a solid veteran CB in Jason McCourty, and three rookies who start, #1 overall pick Myles Garrett, S Jabrill Peppers, and TE David Njoku.

Yet, somehow they are worse.

The defense, which ranked 29th in the NFL in average yards per running play a year ago, now leads the league in that category.

To compound things, Jackson is consistently throwing the front office under the bus, claiming a lack of talent and needing to play “perfect football” to win.

Sashi Brown, Paul DePodesta, and Andrew Berry take the criticism for passing on Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson, but it has been reported that the head coach wanted Jared Goff last season, and wanted to draft Malik Hooker at #12 last spring, not Watson.

Meanwhile, the front office has overhauled a roster that was starting these players for most of the 2015 season–

Karlos Dansby, now 36 years old with Arizona
Donte Whitner, 32, no longer in NFL
Tramon Williams, 34, now with Arizona
Paul Kruger, 31, no longer in NFL
Randy Starks, 34, no longer in NFL

All those players started 14 games for Cleveland in 2015.

Is the front office perfect?  No, they let Mitchell Schwartz, now starting for perhaps the best team in the league in Kansas City, walk away.

They traded LB Demario Davis, who could help the current roster as well.

The roster isn’t a finished product.  The Browns still need help at quarterback and wide receiver, a stud running back, and help in the defensive secondary.

In our opinion the Brown and his crew know this, and this will be the focus of the off-season.

Jackson is supposed to be an expert on quarterbacks, but just what is that based on?  Who has he really made an top flite passer? Dalton?  Joe Flacco?  Certainly, not any of the men he has had with the Browns.

The Browns need everyone in the organization to be on the same page.  And right now, that is not the case.

We get it would not be a popular decision.  Jackson is well liked within NFL circles, while Brown and DePodesta are seen as outsiders.

But who has done a better job over the last two years?  It seems silly to reward the guy who seems to be coaching an offensive scheme for players he wishes he had, not the players currently on the roster.

JD

 

 

 

Browns Need To Decide What Kind Of Team They Are During Break

The Cleveland Browns played a solid game for three quarters, but ultimately ran out of gas in London, dropping to 0-8 on the season, with a 33-16 loss to Minnesota.

Today, the Browns led after the first quarter, and actually led at the half, 13-12, and were getting the ball to start the second half.

It looked like today might be the day the Browns could get their first win of the season!  And the Minnesota Vikings are a solid football team, coming into the game at 5-2 on the season.

But Isaiah Crowell fumbled on the first play of the second half, the Vikings recovered, kicked a field goal three plays later to take the lead.

Hue Jackson’s team regained the lead after a Zane Gonzalez field goal a few minutes later, but after that it was all Minnesota.

Despite leading late, the Browns’ defense was getting tired.  The offense only controlled the ball only 22 minutes, and with Myles Garrett, Jason McCourty, Larry Ogunjobi, and Jabrill Peppers all inactive today, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams didn’t have enough bodies to keep his troops fresh.

And although DeShone Kizer played his first NFL game without a turnover, there were plenty of other mistakes to go around in this game.

On special teams, Gonzalez missed an extra point following the first Browns’ TD, and then missed a 35 yarder in the second half.  That’s four misses in the last three games for the rookie, two of them inside the 40.  You can’t miss those kicks in the pros.

It wouldn’t be a shock if there was a kicking audition during the time off.

Also, Bryce Treggs muffed a punt in the first quarter, leading to a Vikings field goal.

On offense, the use of the running game, or lack of use, we should say, continues to baffle.

The Browns averaged 5.2 yards per carry today, but Crowell and Duke Johnson had just 17 attempts.  That accounts for the 22 minutes of possession, and a very tired defense in the second half.

The defense was plagued by horrible officiating.  The last Vikings’ touchdown was a result of a series of penalties, and really, only one was obvious.  The others could have went either way, and the first Minnesota TD after the half was also created by an interference call on a pass that Vikings’ QB Case Keenum was obviously throwing away.

Joe Schobert has an outstanding game with 11 tackles, an interception, and a forced fumble.  Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib deflected several passes as well.

The defense held Minnesota to 2.6 yards per carry, and that is becoming a regular occurrence.

Another questionable decision was having WR Kenny Britt active and then not playing him.  If that was the plan, then why have him active?  The rules say you can have 53 active players, but the Browns chose to play with 52.

This situation needs to be resolved, and the proper move is to release the veteran wideout.

And where was Kasen Williams again today?

With the bye week to follow, hopefully the front office and coaching staff can get together and determine what kind of team this should be (hint:  run the ball and play defense), and who should be getting the bulk of the playing time.

Regardless of what media people think in Cleveland, the Browns have more talent than they did a year ago.  However, the record is the same, and that is cause for concern going forward.

JD

 

Just What Is Hue Whispering?

For the second time in three weeks, the Cleveland Browns outgained their opponent and lost a football game.

In a strange way, this could be progress.

However, once again, turnovers raised their ugly head, and along with some odd coaching moves (again!), the Browns dropped to 0-7 on the season with a 12-9 loss to the Tennessee Titans in overtime.

Hue Jackson’s team lost the turnover battle 3-1, with two of the picks coming as the team was driving.

And once again, Jackson changed quarterbacks, going to Cody Kessler in the third quarter after DeShone Kizer threw a pick at the end of the first half, and then threw another early after halftime.

There were several odd coaching decisions in this one, the first coming on the game’s first drive, when Jackson declined a personal foul penalty on 3rd and 1 in Cleveland territory.

The Titans went for it on fourth and one, and picked up the first down.  Thankfully, the defense stiffened and held Tennessee to a field goal.

Didn’t Jackson consider the possibility that the Titans would go for it?  Also, the penalty yardage would have backed the Titans out of field goal range.

Another odd play was Kessler’s interception in the fourth quarter.

On 3rd and 13 from the Titans’ 47 yard line, Kessler fired the ball downfield and it was picked off on the Tennessee 8 with Cleveland trailing 9-6.

One, why not try to get seven or eight yards and then go for it on fourth down.  Two, the replay showed there were no route underneath to do just that.

Jackson forced his QB to throw a long pass downfield, and we believe everyone would believe that throwing downfield is not Kessler’s strong suit.

The Browns had another penalty filled day, another thing that can be attributed to the coaching staff.

The special teams had a block in the back call (to be fair, a little questionable) on the Browns last drive forcing them to start 10 yards further back after forcing a punt, and they received another flag on Cleveland’s last punt for a player being out of bounds, giving Tennessee an extra five yards on the game winning drive.

Then, in overtime, both possessions started offensively for Cleveland with runs, putting Kessler in unfavorable down and distance situations.

We understand we want the Browns to run the football, and they did make a concerted effort to do that today, but they still wound up running 26 times vs. 39 passes.

Our point in overtime is with Kessler in there, why not throw a short pass to gain 4 or 5 yards on first down and give your passer options?

To top off the entire mess, Joe Thomas got hurt in the game and had his consecutive snap streak ended.  His availability for next week is in doubt.  And if he can’t play, the offensive line is a mess.

Want positives?  Rookie TE David Njoku continues to show he is a player, with two catches for 58 yards.  The question would be why just two catches?

The other positive is the defense, which did not allow the opposition into the end zone.  Granted, Tennessee likes to run the ball, and the Browns are very good at stopping the run, but they accomplished this with Jason McCourty and Jabrill Peppers inactive with injuries.

So, now it’s off to London for a game against the Vikings, followed by the bye week.

Another game with weird coaching decisions and the front office may have to do something.  Perhaps change play calling responsibilities, maybe a change at special teams’ coach.

It’s tough to be 1-22, when this was supposed to be a season where progress was to be seen.

We don’t think Hue Jackson is giving us any confidence that it will be.

JD

 

Note To Hue Jackson: Run The Football, Protect Your Young QB

The Cleveland Browns are searching for a quarterback.  We believe everyone would agree with that statement.

As we are so often reminded, in the past two NFL Drafts, the Browns passed on picking what a lot of experts felt were blue chip prospects.

In 2016, Cleveland could’ve picked Carson Wentz, but traded out of the pick, obtaining a lot more draft choices.

This past April, the Browns were in position to take Deshaun Watson from the national champion Clemson Tigers, but again traded out of the slot, and in the second round took DeShone Kizer.

However, in watching last Sunday’s game against the team that drafted Watson, the Houston Texans, a few things stood out.

The first and most glaring was how Texans’ coach Bill O’Brien has taken care of his rookie, in sharp contrast to how Hue Jackson has handled Kizer.

Watson made very few throws outside the numbers.  O’Brien gives him a lot of easy throws, short passes over the middle, with an occasional deep ball, like the 39 yard touchdown pass to Will Fuller.

He has completed 61.5% of his passes, and he does have a security blanket in WR DeAndre Hopkins, who has caught 37 passes on the season, for an average of 10.3 yards per reception.

Kizer doesn’t have a wideout like Hopkins, the Browns’ leading receiver is RB Duke Johnson with 26 catches.  The wide receiver position is like a revolving door, with Ricardo Louis having the most catches with 18.

The biggest benefit for Watson is the Texans’ running game, which ranks second in the NFL in both number of attempts and yards gained.

Cleveland ranks 18th in attempts and 17th in yards.  But do you know what the difference in yards per carry is between the two teams?  Houston averages 4.4 per rush, and the Browns are at 4.2.

That’s right, 0.2 yards per carry.

Yet, the Texans have run the ball 49 more times on the season than Cleveland.

It’s not much different for Wentz’ Eagles, who sit atop the NFC East at 5-1.  Philly ranks 5th in the league in rushing yards, and 4th in attempts.  Average yards per carry?  The same 4.4 figure the Texans own.

The top ten in rushing is pretty much a list of surprise teams or teams with young quarterbacks.

Jacksonville (3-3) with a mediocre to this point in his career, Blake Bortles, is first.  Houston (3-3) with a rookie in Watson is second.

Another rookie guided squad, the Bears (2-4), led by Mentor’s Mitch Trubisky, is third.

Others in the top ten are the Eagles (5th), the Vikings (4-2) despite an injury to Sam Bradford is 7th, the surprising Rams (4-2) with second year QB Jared Goff are 8th, and the Jets (3-3) with aging veteran Josh McCown, yes, that Josh McCown, round out the top ten.

Unfortunately, the Browns seem to go into each game intending to run the ball, but as soon as they fall behind by ten or more points, even if it is still in the first half, they go away from it.

Cleveland should be able to run.  They have two backs, who at least can be considered solid in Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson.

They invested money in two free agent offensive linemen this off season and still have the incomparable Joe Thomas and Joel Bitonio.

And as previously stated, it’s not like they average 3.5 yards per carry.

Do the people who bring up Wentz and Watson think those passers would have the same success running the offense the Browns are currently running?

It’s time for Jackson to adjust his offense to the talent he currently has, including DeShone Kizer.  That would be the best thing for his development.

JD

 

Browns Keep Firing Long Passes, Lose Once Again

So, the biggest news of the week for pro football fans in Cleveland was that Kevin Hogan was named the starting quarterback, giving rookie DeShone Kizer time to watch and learn.

Surely, the way Hogan played in the second half last week, getting the ball to David Njoku, Seth DeValve, and Duke Johnson, would carry over to this week and we would see a more efficient offensive game.

And early on, it seemed to work.  Heck, the Browns even picked up two first downs on their first drive, an improvement from the usual three and out.

The Browns even tied up the game at 3 in the first quarter after pinning Houston deep in their own territory after a punt and getting a good return from Jabrill Peppers.

After the Texans scored on a deep pass, the Browns were moving again, mostly using the ground game to get the football in the red zone.

After Hogan overthrew the ball on first down, his next pass was another overthrow picked off by Johnathon Joseph and run back 82 yards for a touchdown.

That seemed to be the end of the running and short passing game.

And Hue Jackson’s squad dropped to 0-6 on the season with a 33-17 loss, and are now 1-21 during his tenure as head coach.

After that interception, Cleveland ran the ball just twice the rest of the first half, and that turnover occurred with 11:08 left in the second quarter!

Cleveland trailed 24-3 at halftime, and was lucky it wasn’t worse.  They got the ball back with slightly over three minutes to go in the half, and threw three passes, two of them deep throws, giving Houston the ball back with 2:33 left.

Luckily, the defense held.

Our point is if you are going to run that type of offense, there is really no reason not to play Kizer, he is more suited and has the bigger arm to throw the ball downfield.

As a result of this type of offense, the Browns were just three of 14 in third down conversions, a woeful 21.4%.  That doesn’t help the defense of course.

Duke Johnson, a player one of the Browns’ own coaches said is a threat every time he touches the ball, had five carries and caught three passes.

The two tight ends, Njoku and DeValve?  Both caught two passes.

Meanwhile, Jackson has his quarterbacks heaving 20-25 yard patterns on a week to week basis.

Thank goodness for Myles Garrett, who had another sack today, his third in two games, and had five tackles total.

We liked Deshaun Watson coming out of Clemson, but he didn’t do anything today that knocked our socks off.  He is just in a better system and has some playmakers surrounding him.

Texans’ coach Bill O’Brien didn’t ask his rookie to make a lot of throws outside the numbers, the way Jackson does with his passers.  Watson makes a lot of short tosses in the middle of the field.

Which is what we would like to see the Browns do with Kizer.

The one positive we can think of is Zane Gonzalez made a field goal today, a 41-yarder.  He needed that.

Another telling sign on the Browns coaching was 11 penalties.  Granted Cleveland has the youngest roster in the NFL, but the yellow flags are a constant issue.  Doesn’t that reflect on the staff?

We all know the definition of insanity.  Yet, Jackson doesn’t seem to want to do anything differently on offense.  He continues to chuck long throws to a mediocre wide receiver crew.

Name another team in watching other games that throws deep ball this often.

Bringing up the insanity thing again…maybe the fans fall in the same category.

JD

 

Why Is Hue Held Blameless?

We understand how it goes when covering a team.  Reporters talk to the coaches everyday, and unless the coach is a total jerk, we are sure they develop a good relationship.

And when you cover the Cleveland Browns, and the front office representative, Sashi Brown is kind of condescending to the media, it is probably natural to support the coach when at all possible.

However, in watching the games, it is hard to see if objectivity is used, why the front office should be under attack.

One veteran media member said yesterday that the Kenny Britt signing is proof that Brown is over his head as Executive Vice President of the team.  What?

Wouldn’t the signing of CB Jason McCourty alone counteract the Britt acquisition?

And that’s not even bringing up getting Jamie Collins, Briean Boddy-Calhoun, and  Jamar Taylor in trades or guys brought in off the waiver wire.

While the “you have to have a football man in charge” people don’t want to admit it, the two drafts the Brown regime has overseen has more promising players chosen than most drafts in recent memory.

Another reporter wrote after Sunday’s loss to the Jets that Jackson couldn’t be blamed because Zane Gonzalez missed two field goals and DeShone Kizer turned it over twice in the red zone.  Huh?

He’s in charge, right?  He gets credit when players play well.

He’s developed the game plan that put in an audible for an option pitch near the goal line that resulted in a fumble.  The second turnover was simply an awful throw by Kizer.

Jackson is also the coach who didn’t put in a system to protect a 21-year-old rookie quarterback.  Look at the two quarterbacks most media members bring up as guys the front office blew it by passing on.

Carson Wentz is having a fine season for the 4-1 Eagles.  But his offense is also 4th in the NFL in rushing.  Deshaun Watson, passed over this season, is playing well too, but the Texans are 3rd in running the football.

The Browns rank 23rd in rushing and this past week gave their quarterback more carries than Duke Johnson had touches.

The failure to commit to the running game is on the coach, it’s not Sashi Brown’s fault.

In fact, Brown spent a ton of money on two offensive linemen, both of whom start for the 2017 Browns.

We also read someone bemoaning the players the front office let go, bringing up Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz.  Mack started in the Super Bowl, and Schwartz starts for the NFL’s best team in Kansas City.

Those are fair criticisms.

Then, Terrelle Pryor was brought up.  The same Pryor who has 13 catches for 186 yards on the season to date.  Heck. Ricardo Louis has 15 receptions for 204 yards.

Also mentioned?  Gary Barnidge, who isn’t on an NFL roster.

And of course, Joe Haden is always brought up.  Haden is still a decent cornerback in the NFL, but he no longer can match up with top receivers.  Stop comparing him to the memories of him four years ago before the injuries took their toll.

Yesterday, a member of the Browns’ broadcast crew admitted Cleveland has more talent than the Jets, the team that defeated them last Sunday.  They are now 3-2 on the season.

So, why can’t the Browns win some games?  We aren’t advocating firing the head coach because the organization can’t keep doing that.

However, it is time to start holding the coaching staff accountable.  Don’t protect him because he’s a good guy, and point the finger at someone who you don’t know.

JD

 

 

Decisions In Red Zone Cost Browns.

We are sure most of the focus of today’s 17-14 loss by the Cleveland Browns to the New York Jets will be on Hue Jackson’s decision to remove DeShone Kizer at halftime.

However, that shouldn’t mask the terrible coaching decisions made during the game.  Although the smile on fans’  faces after watching Myles Garrett, who recorded two sacks in his debut, shouldn’t be discounted.

Quite frankly, the Browns dominated this football game, particularly in the first half, which ended with Cleveland trailing 3-0.

In total, the Browns gained 419 yards offensively, compared to 212 by the Jets.  And they still lost.

With this one-sided statistical edge, Jackson should have to answer for a case of trying to be too cute offensively when his team got into the red zone.

The first time the brown and orange got inside the Jets’ 20, Cleveland ran an option pitch on third down, the first time the play has been used all year.

The pitch went off of Isaiah Crowell’s hands and was recovered by New York, so instead of at least three points (more on that later), the Browns were kept off the scoreboard.

Later, on the Browns’ next possession, rookie kicker Zane Gonzalez missed a 52-yard field goal.  More to come on that front.

The next time Cleveland got the ball close, on a 3rd down and three from the Jets’ four, Kizer threw an interception when it looked as if had he floated the ball over the safety, it would have been a TD pass to TE Seth DeValve.

Before the half ended, Gonzalez missed another field goal, this one much more makeable, from 39 yards.  It’s tough to keep missing opportunities to score points.

So, instead of 20 points possible in the first half.  Jackson’s team emerged with zero, a combination of crazy play calling, execution by the rookie QB, and poor special teams play, mostly by the kicker.

In the second half, Kevin Hogan, who completed 16 of his 19 throws for 194 yards and two touchdowns, seemed to have more rhythm with the attack, and also looked more amenable to getting the ball to the teams’ best offensive players:  Crowell, Duke Johnson, and tight ends David Njoku and DeValve.

But another curious decision came in to play.  Down 10-7 in the fourth quarter, the Browns had a 4th and 2 from the Jets’ three.  A field goal ties the score, and even with Gonzalez’ issues, he has to be counted on to make a 20 yard attempt, right?

Instead, the coach wasted a timeout, and ran Crowell up the middle, and he wasn’t even close.

That the defense, who was dominant for most of the day allowed a 97 yard drive didn’t help matters, but why not keep the momentum and tie the contest?

Cleveland ran 33 times today, but a closer look at the numbers shows than 10 of those attempts were by the quarterbacks.

Johnson had just nine touches, and produced 83 yards, including a 41 yard run after catching a screen pass.

Njoku scored his third touchdown in five games.  Why aren’t the Browns using him more?

Removing Kizer was the right decision in our opinion.  He was hurting the team’s chances at a victory.  He holds the ball to long and the inaccuracy he was plagued with in college is rearing its’ ugly head.

It’s time for the rookie to watch for awhile, and we would definitely start Hogan next week against the Texans.

He’s earned the gig.

Besides stubbornness, trying to show people how smart you are is our least favorite attribute in coaches.  Sometimes the obvious move is the right one.

Jackson has showed each of those things in the last two weeks.

JD

 

 

 

Failure To Run Not Doing Kizer Any Favors.

With the Cleveland Browns struggling once again this season, and rookie QB DeShone Kizer playing like, well, a rookie, another tradition has surfaced among fans and media alike.

That would be bringing up all of the quarterbacks the franchise has passed on in recent history.

However, no one is taking into account the circumstances that Kizer is dealing with to date.

When Kizer was named the starter in the pre-season, we (and just about everyone else) assumed Hue Jackson would protect the youngster, emphasizing the running game and the defense.

Only four teams right now have averaged less rushing attempts per game this season, and outside of Green Bay (3-1), the other three teams have combined for one win (by Miami) on the season.

Now, there are those who say because those teams are losing, they have to throw the football, but the teams who have accumulated the most rushing yards on the season right now are Jacksonville (a surprising 2-2), Denver (3-1), Philadelphia (3-1), Houston (2-2), and Tennessee (2-2).

What do all of those teams have in common?  They all are playing relatively young quarterbacks, including two that the Browns passed up on, Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson.

It’s almost as if a good recipe to win with a young quarterback is to run the football.

Would you be surprised if we told you Cleveland averages more yards per carry as a team than the Steelers, Bengals, or Packers?  Well, they do, which makes it more curious as to why Jackson seems to give up on the run so easily.

Even Mike Pettine knew not to give up on the run.

Remember Pettine’s first game as head coach?  The Browns trailed the Pittsburgh 27-3 at halftime, but instead of throwing the football all over Heinz Field, he stuck with the run, using 13 running plays in a third quarter where his team cut the lead to 27-17.

It can be done.

The lack of commitment to the running game is also hurting the defense.  The Browns had the ball for 31 minutes in the opening day three point loss to Pittsburgh.

That number dropped to 26 minutes in the week two and three losses to Baltimore and Indianapolis, and reached a season low 24 minutes in Sunday’s defeat by the Bengals.

It’s not like the passing game is working either.  Cleveland’s average yards per pass attempt of 5.0 ranks 29th in the NFL.  And, of course, the nine interceptions thrown by Browns’ passers is three more than any other team in the league.

Jackson’s team has thrown the third most passes in the NFL, behind just Arizona and the New York Giants and tied with Green Bay.  Those three teams all have veteran signal callers, two of them winning Super Bowls.

If Jackson wants to keep playing Kizer, and he should because once he was named the starter there was no turning back, he needs to protect him.

Commit to running the football even if you fall behind by two touchdowns early.  Why not line up in two or three tight end sets, utilizing TEs Seth DeValve and David Njoku in the passing game?

And running the ball would control the clock, keep your defense fresh, and shorten football games.  That’s what teams that lack talent should do.

It’s time for the Browns to take care of their rookie quarterback.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the coaching staff is interested to doing just that.

JD