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

 

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Really, Kizer Was The Only Choice

DeShone Kizer was named the Browns’ starting quarterback for the season opener against Pittsburgh by coach Hue Jackson, and it really wasn’t up for debate.

The rookie from Notre Dame hit just 6 of 18 passes for 93 yards and an interception, but he was hurt by some dropped passes and a fumble inside the Tampa Bay 20 yard line by Duke Johnson.

Otherwise, he would have put more points on the board and his statistics would’ve looked better.

When it comes down to it, Jackson didn’t have much of a choice.

Training camp started with Cody Kessler as the starter, but the second year man out of USC seems to refuse to do what the coaching staff wants, which is throw the ball downfield occasionally.

He has completed 66.7% of his 27 passes, but only for 145 yards.  His 5.4 yards isn’t what Jackson wants out of his QB.  Remember, Kessler was benched at halftime in a game the Browns were leading a year ago, because he checked down way too much.

Next, Osweiler had the starting job, but he didn’t put up any points in his time on the field, and if you think 5.4 yards per pass is poor, the former Bronco and Texan signal caller’s three yards per pass makes Kessler look like John Elway.

We truly believe that Jackson didn’t want to start his rookie second round pick in the opener, particularly because it is against the Steelers, but given the performance of the two guys he tried to give the gig to, he didn’t really have a choice.

Kizer is hitting just 51% of his throws, a low total in today’s NFL, but his average yards per pass attempt is 7.2, the best of the four passers on the roster.

One thing you have to remember is the team knows who is the quarterback best equipped to lead them, and if Jackson were to start someone else, he loses credibility in his own locker room.

Our hope is that Jackson doesn’t put the burden of the offense on Kizer.  If the Browns are going into games planning to throw the ball 35 times, we can sense a disaster.

Rather, do what the Seahawks did with Russell Wilson as a rookie, do what the Steelers did with Ben Roethlisberger as a first year player.  Ease the weight on their shoulders.

Run the ball, play defense, and make it as easy as possible for them to play the most difficult position in professional sports.

As for who backs up Kizer, that’s another quandary for Jackson.

We expect to see a lot of Kevin Hogan on Thursday night against Chicago, because amazingly, he has performed better than both Osweiler and Kessler in the preseason games.

We are sure the coaching staff would like to see him against some second team players instead of guys who will not make teams once the rosters have to be cut to 53 players.

We firmly believe Jackson’s intention was to bring DeShone Kizer along slowly, but the mediocre performance of the more experienced passers forced his hand.

Hopefully, Kizer joins the rookie quarterback success stories rather than the players who were thrown to the wolves early and got devoured.

JD

It Might Be Kizer, Because He Seems To Want The Job

The Cleveland Browns have a quarterback dilemma.

This is nothing new, the team has been looking for a signal caller since they returned to the NFL for the 1999 season.

Tim Couch is the closest to being a guy fans could identify as the QB for the Browns, as he was the starter for five seasons (’99-’03), but he absorbed so much punishment in those years, that his career ended after the 2003 campaign at age 26.

This year’s problem is a little different though.  The Browns do not want to rush rookie second round pick DeShone Kizer, they would rather let him learn at the beginning of the year and get used to the professional game.

Unfortunately, the two veterans on the roster, Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler, don’t seem to want the gig.  This may force coach Hue Jackson’s hand, and he may have to go with Kizer, who seems to be clearly playing the best.

Osweiler was the starter in each of the first two games, and he has completed 12 of 22 passes for just 67 yards, with an interception and hasn’t been sacked.  A bigger issue is the offense hasn’t scored with him at the helm.

FYI, an average of three yards an attempt is awful for an NFL quarterback.

Kessler played with the second unit in the first pre-season games, and the threes last night against the Giants.  He is 12 for 17 (70.6%) for 97 yards and did lead Cleveland into the end zone in the exhibition opener.  He is averaging 5.7 yards per pass attempt, and has been sacked once.

The rookie has had the most opportunity, playing the entire second half against the Saints, and about two and a half quarters last night.

He has completed 19 of 31 (61.3%) for 258 yards (8.3 yards per attempt), and a touchdown pass and a TD run.  He has also been sacked five times.

After last night’s game, we wonder what Kessler would look like if he played with the first team.  That’s how little we have thought of Osweiler’s performance, and also how little we want the Browns to throw a rookie out there in the season lidlifter against the Steelers.

Remember, Kessler started training camp as the starter, and didn’t play well in practices and the intersquad scrimmage at First Energy Stadium.  That’s why Jackson turned to Osweiler.

If the coaching staff wants to protect Kizer, then they should probably go back to Kessler.

However, if they go with Kizer, they need to approach games the same way the Seahawks did when Russell Wilson was a rookie, meaning try to win games with your defense and running game.

In our opinion, putting the burden of the attack on a rookie before he is ready is detrimental to his future.  We don’t want to see Kizer firing 35-40 passes in the opener or in any games at the beginning of the schedule.

And we would feel better if Jackson eliminated the read option from the Browns’ offense too.

Based on the first two pre-season games, it doesn’t seem like Jackson has any choice but to hand Kizer the keys to the engine.

It isn’t the ideal situation, but it probably gives the Browns the best chance to win games, which after a 1-15 season in 2016, they desperately need to do.

JD

 

 

Starting Osweiler The Least Risky Move

The big news of the week in Cleveland seems to be that Hue Jackson named Brock Osweiler to be the starting quarterback in the Browns’ first pre-season game Thursday night against the Saints.

First, it’s a pre-season game, and certainly Jackson can change his mind between now and September 10th when the Browns and Steelers get together.

Second, it seems that the coaching staff and front office are showing everyone they are pumping the brakes on DeShone Kizer.

We have been critical of Osweiler in the past, and have pointed out on a few occasions that Cody Kessler had more games with a passer rating of over 100 in his rookie season than Osweiler has had in his career.

However, it appears that Kessler hasn’t progressed as the coaching staff hoped, still dinking and dunking and reticent to throw the ball downfield.

And we have been consistent in saying the Browns need to resist the temptation to throw Kizer to the wolves before he is ready.

Cleveland has done that before with other young quarterbacks and it hasn’t worked.  Didn’t someone say those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it?

Complicating things for some fans as well as those in the media is that the Browns went 1-15 a year ago.  They have to start winning some football games, not for the fans, but to start building a winning atmosphere in the locker room.

It may be right now, that Osweiler gives the team the best chance to put up some “W’s”

After all, his supporters will point out the former Bronco and Texan has a 13-8 record as a starter.

We would counter that argument that the former Arizona State standout tooks snaps for two teams that have incredible defenses.

It is a fact that he is the only QB on the roster who has started and won an NFL game.

So, Osweiler will get a chance to resurrect his career starting Thursday night.  And why not, the coaching staff has to know what they have in Kessler and they don’t want to rush Kizer, so why not see if Osweiler can get the job done.

Remember, he was a throw in last spring in a trade for a second round draft pick. When the Browns announced the trade, the pick was mentioned first.

The point is, what does Jackson have to lose?  Osweiler played the best in Friday night’s scrimmage, and he has starting experience.

If he looks good throughout the preseason, he will claim the job against Pittsburgh in the season opener.

That doesn’t mean we would rule out Kizer, we just wouldn’t force him into the job.  If he is clearly the best QB in practice and the games, then he should start.

But he shouldn’t start because he might be the franchise quarterback in a few years, or because he’s big, has a strong arm, and is mobile.  Let him observe, get used to the speed of the game, and show something when he gets his opportunity.

Remember, he was a second round pick, so if the Browns would get the first pick in next year’s draft, they can still take Sam Darnold of USC or however the top college QB is after this upcoming season.

So, Jackson is taking the least risk is seeing what Osweiler can do.  It doesn’t mean he will open the year as the starter, but right now, it’s his job to lose.

JD

Shocking Trade A Positive For Browns Front Office

The front office of the Cleveland Browns continues to do business in an unorthodox way, which, of course, is why they can polarizing among both the national and local media.

They aren’t “football guys”, we know that, and the Browns went 1-15 last year, so it’s hard to put any trust in them, but we feel they are laying the groundwork for the future.

That should have been done in 1999 when Cleveland came back into the NFL, and it could have been done several times and several regimes since, but instead the franchise went for quick fixes, and have just two winning seasons and one playoff spot in 17 seasons.

The most surprising and talked about move was the trade with the Houston Texans, involving QB Brock Osweiler.

The first reaction was this is who the Browns want to move forward at the quarterback?  The guy benched by the Texans before his first season ended after inking a deal paying him $18 million?

Instead as more details came out, Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta simply gave up some salary cap space, of which the Browns have plenty, to get a 2018 second round draft pick, which Houston had to throw in the deal for Cleveland to take Osweiler.

The old guard didn’t understand the move, Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian blasted the move hours after it happened.

A day later, when Terrelle Pryor signed with the Redskins, the Browns were hammered for giving away cap space instead of reaching an agreement with the wide receiver.

Now we hear fans wondering why the Browns just don’t give Osweiler a shot at the job in training camp.

First, Cleveland still has almost $70-80 million (depending on the source) in salary cap space, and let’s face it, there aren’t enough quality free agents remaining to spend that kind of money this off-season.

So, the money isn’t an issue.

And the Browns get to add to their cadre of high draft picks they have accumulated over the next two drafts.  Obviously, if you are afraid of success in drafting, then having more picks gives you a better chance to get good players.

As for Osweiler, his season last year was a nightmare, and although he get a lot of credit for winning with Denver in 2015, there are plenty of questions about him.

He’s made 22 career NFL starts and has two games with a passer rating of over 100.0.  Before you challenge us, we know that passer rating isn’t the end all in evaluating quarterbacks.

By contrast, Browns’ rookie QB, Cody Kessler, has three games with a rating higher than 100.0 last season.  If you complete a good percentage of throws and avoid interceptions, you will have a good rating.

Remember also that the Texans went to the playoffs last year, so obviously Bill O’Brien felt strongly that Tom Savage gave his team a better chance to win.

Meanwhile, here is a memo to all media people in Cleveland…We are pretty sure the Browns know they need a quarterback, and they will get one this off-season, whether it is drafting one early or getting one in a trade (Jimmy Garoppolo).

So, please stop with the idea the front office hasn’t done a good job because they haven’t addressing the “most important position in professional sports”!

Relax, they know it’s a problem.  They will take care of it.

Until then, can we get off the notion that Brown, DePodesta, and the analytical people don’t know what they are doing?

JD

The Media & The Browns’ QB

It is fun to observe the media, both print and broadcast, cover the Cleveland Browns.  After every game, a segment of them, usually the same guys, seem outraged by the loss that occurred.

We don’t know what they were expecting.  Most people figured a two or three win season at best for the brown and orange, so losses shouldn’t be a surprise.

It is particularly funny to watch how the people who cover and comment on the Browns treat the quarterback situation, particularly this season.

Throughout training camp, it was clear that Hue Jackson was going to start Robert Griffin III unless he was awful.  He wasn’t, although he didn’t play too much in the pre-season, so we got the nod in the opener against the Eagles.

Griffin went 12 of 26 for 190 yards and an interception in a game the Browns trailed 13-10 in the third quarter before a bad snap which turned into a safety changed the momentum.

The former Heisman Trophy winner suffered a broken shoulder late in the 4th quarter, and based on that the media turned on him, saying it is clear that he shouldn’t be the starter and it was tough to find a scenario where RGIII would be back on the Browns’ roster in 2017.

Next came many in the media’s choice, good guy, good teammate Josh McCown, who started in week two vs. the Ravens.

The Browns had a 20-0 first quarter lead, but scored no more points after and McCown threw a late interception (after a terrible unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Terrelle Pryor).

And he broke his collarbone in the game.  In a nutshell, he was what we’ve come to expect about Josh McCown.

But he was now out and rookie Cody Kessler took the helm.  The people covering the team were sounding a death knell on the fate of the Browns.

Their fears were unwarranted. After a shaky first series, Kessler played well (21 of 33 for 244 yards) and the Browns had a chance to win in regulation, but new kicker Cody Parkey missed a field goal.

Kessler was good again the following week (28 of 40, 223 yards, a TD and a pick) and Cleveland was in the game until some 4th quarter turnovers caused a 31-20 defeat.

Now, everyone wanted to see Kessler the rest of the season.  Since the team was 0-4, he was the future.  Why not put him out there?

Except he got hurt against the Patriots after leading the Browns to a touchdown.

He returned to start the following week vs. Tennessee throwing for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, and was 9 of 11 against Cincinnati before suffering a concussion.

However, Kessler was reluctant to throw deep and his lack of arm strength had the scribes starting to turn against him.

When Hue Jackson benched him in the second half of the Thursday night game vs. Baltimore, many in the media started to sour on Kessler.

Unfortunately, McCown was dreadful in that game, and Kessler got another concussion in the next game against the Steelers.

That left McCown to play last Sunday and the media started thinking the best thing for the Browns might be to trot out Robert Griffin III for the rest of the year since he’s now recovered from his injury.

Their thinking is why not find out what you have in the former Redskin QB, who by the way, took his team to the playoffs as a rookie.

That’s what they should’ve been thinking from day one.  Griffin is still just 26 years old, so why not let him show if he can still play in the NFL, and can he make plays.

It shouldn’t have any effect on whether or not Cleveland should draft a quarterback next spring.

The point is maybe we shouldn’t pay any attention to what the people who follow the Browns think about the QB position.  They don’t seem to know anymore than anyone else about the position.

JD

 

 

The Curious Decision Of Hue Jackson.

The Cleveland Browns can do one thing…they can make you scratch your head because they will consistently do something that makes absolutely no sense.

For example, they drafted a ton of wide receivers last April, yet continue to keep veteran Andrew Hawkins on the roster and play him more than the rookies.

However, tonight might just be the ultimate.

Cleveland was actually leading at halftime tonight, 7-6.  They scored on a 25-yard pass from Cody Kessler to another rookie, TE Seth DeValve.

Kessler was dinking and dunking, as he normally does, but was efficient, hitting 11 of 18 passes for 91 yards, a passer rating of 92, and did not turn the ball over.

After the Browns got the second half kickoff and went three and out, and the Ravens scored a touchdown to take a 13-7 lead, Hue Jackson made perhaps the most puzzling decision of the year, replacing Kessler with mediocre veteran Josh McCown.

The choice of some fans and many in the media, because he’s a hard worker and good guy (read:  good interview), McCown may have played the most dreadful half of football by any Browns’ quarterback in recent memory.

That’s saying a lot.

McCown’s first four series went interception, fumble (he recovered) and punt, interception, and a lost fumble.

He went 6 for 13 for 59 yards and the two picks.

Quite frankly, he should be released after the performance, because there is absolutely no need for him to take another snap for the Cleveland Browns.

The decision is more puzzling because Kessler was Jackson’s pick.  Remember, “trust me on this one”.

We have said this before, but we don’t know if Kessler will ever lead this team or any team to the playoffs, and he probably will never be considered one of the better passers in the NFL.

So, we are certainly not one of those who think Kessler is some sort of franchise savior for the Cleveland Browns.

But it makes no sense at all, period, to play a 38 year old mediocre, mistake prone quarterback on a football team that is now 0-10 for the season.

As for the final score, yes, the defense gave up over 25 points again, for the tenth straight game.  They got gassed after being on the field again for almost 40 minutes, particularly in the second half, when McCown produced more turnovers than any pastry chef you can name.

Watching the game, it appeared all of the life was sucked out of the Browns after McCown’s first interception.

And while Jackson yearns for his passer to throw deep, the veteran’s first deep throw was also picked off.

Kessler has turned the ball over once this season.  McCown turned it over four times in a half.

Defensively, Jamie Collins was all over the field in the first half, with nine tackles and a sack.  Demario Davis also had a sack.

Christian Kirksey played another strong game with 13 tackles, and Joe Haden and Breian Boddy-Calhoun both recorded interceptions.

The defense also held the Ravens to under four yards per carry (3.5).

However, the talk tomorrow will be about the curious quarterback decision.  What does Jackson do going forward?  Logic and the squad’s record say it should be Kessler, because he is a rookie.

On the other hand, Robert Griffin III was warming up on the field prior to the game.  Does Jackson go back to him?  Quite frankly, we wouldn’t mind that.  Why not see if Griffin can play?

After all, he only had one game to show what he can do.

No matter what explanation Jackson makes, he cannot convince us that putting McCown in the game improved the Browns chances of winning.

We aren’t saying we’ve soured on the head coach, but it does make us wonder what the ultimate goal is.  It should be developing the young players.  Tonight, it wasn’t.

JD

Browns Show Nothing To Grow On Today

At the beginning of this season, we said we would not measure this year’s edition of the Cleveland Browns by their win-loss record.  We knew that wasn’t going to be good.

Rather, we said the season wouldn’t be a abject failure is the Browns showed progress from week to week, particularly the young players, of which there are a bunch.

We understand the Dallas Cowboys are one of the best teams in the NFL this year, and they have perhaps the best offensive line in the league, and a dominant running game, led by former Ohio State standout Ezekiel Elliott.

Expecting a win today would have been ludicrous.  However, the Browns were overwhelmed in every phase of football today.

And we aren’t seeing progress.

Here is a short positive, lengthy negative review of today’s 35-10 loss, which dropped the Browns’ record to 0-9.  And today’s referee was Jeff Tripplette, which pretty much speaks for itself.

Positives.  Look, Cody Kessler may never make a Pro Bowl, heck, he might only be a starter for this season, but that doesn’t mean he can be considered a questionable draft pick anymore.

Kessler connected on 19 of his 27 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown, and generally moved the football very well, at least in the first half when it was kind of a game.

He connected with Isaiah Crowell for a 44 yard gain on the opening drive, which set the Browns up for a field goal.

Kessler should be the starter the rest of the way unless there is an injury, or the coaching staff wants to see what Robert Griffin III can do when he is healthy.

Terrelle Pryor caught the TD pass, and four other passes.  He has become the guy that opposing defenses want to stop on the Browns.

Corey Coleman returned to the field and snagged three passes for 41 yards.  He should give Kessler another weapon when the Browns have the football.

Negatives.  The Cleveland defense continues to resemble a sieve.  Dallas controlled the ball for 40 minutes, Ray Horton’s crew had no answer for the visitor’s attack.

However, there are things defensively that seem to be repeating from week to week, and that should concern Hue Jackson and the front office.

Tight ends continue to plague this team and have all season.  We were critical last year that then defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil didn’t change anything, especially against the run.  We have the same thought about Horton.

Three plays where the defense lined up in the neutral zone?  Xavier Cooper should lose playing time for doing this twice in the same game.  That’s a mental error.

The secondary is general continues to be horrendous.  Opposing receivers are wide open way too often.

We understand you can’t play all rookies, but some of the veterans who do play simply aren’t getting it done.

We’ve talked ad nauseum about Tramon Williams, but it wouldn’t bother us if OL Alvin Bailey didn’t play anymore, as we fear for Kessler’s safety.

We have two problems with Jackson’s play calling today.  First, he abandoned the run too early again.  The Browns have to continue to try to run, if only to shorten games.

In the first half, with a 3rd and 2 deep in Dallas territory, Jackson went for the end zone and the pass to Pryor was incomplete.  He then tried a field goal and Cody Parkey’s attempt hit the upright.

The pass to the end zone should have only been called if you were going to go for it on fourth down.  Otherwise, the correct play is move the chains and keep the drive alive.

Now, the Browns have a short week, playing Baltimore on Thursday night.

For the first time this season, this young football team looked dejected, defeated.  Jackson has to get that attitude adjusted in a couple of days.

Otherwise a nationwide audience will witness another butt kicking.

JD

Another Week, More Big Plays Killed The Browns

When the NFL season began this year, we talked about not judging the Cleveland Browns based on wins and losses, but rather, on the progress being shown weekly by the team.

One thing Hue Jackson’s crew is not improving on is giving up the big play on defense.  Three of Cincinnati’s four touchdowns today came via this method in a 31-17 loss in the Queen City to drop Cleveland to 0-7 on the season.

Last week, Tennessee had four plays of forty yards or more, today the Bengals scored on plays of 44, 48, and 74 yards.  If the Browns want to get in the win column at some point this season, Ray Horton’s defense has to prevent big plays.

To be fair, without Joe Haden out there (groin injury), there aren’t any solid experienced plays on that side of the ball.  We can’t believe there is no one better than Tramon Williams on the waiver wire.

At least on offense, Jackson has Joe Thomas, John Greco, and Gary Barnidge on the field to help the youngsters.

And yes, we know we said we go young after last season.

So, here are the positives, negatives, and officiating gaffes from this week’s game.

Positives.  The Browns have had problems the last two weeks running the ball, but they accumulated 180 yards on the ground today, led by an unlikely source.

Jackson must have found something in the Cincy defensive scheme showing they were susceptible to the read option, because the Browns unleashed reserve QB Kevin Hogan with it, and he ran for 104 yards on seven attempts, including a 28-yard touchdown run.

Isaiah Crowell also had a solid day with 63 yards on 12 carries.

Barnidge had a solid day as the outlet receiver, making 6 catches for 66 yards.

Before he left with a concussion, Cody Kessler played like we’ve come to expect him to play, hitting 9 of 11 throws for 82 yards.

On defense, Emmanuel Ogbah had his best game as a pro, recording two sacks.  Christian Kirksey and Carl Nassib combined for a third sack of Andy Dalton.

The Browns were also penalized just five times today.

Negatives. Giving up 559 yards in an NFL game may be the biggest negative you can come up with.  The defense gave up big play after big play.

Ibraheim Campbell took a horrific angle on Jeremy Hill’s 74 yard TD run, turning an 8 or 9 yard game into a touchdown.

And those two aren’t even the worst of it.

With 0:05 left on the clock in the first half, the Browns trailed 14-10 and were poised to get the second half kickoff.

That’s when Dalton hit A.J. Green for a 48 yard “Hail Mary” pass and suddenly the Browns were down 11.

There had to be five or six Browns around Green, yet no one could knock the pass down.  Green tipped it to himself for the score.

Officiating.   Ed Hochuli’s crew appeared to miss an offsides by Cincinnati with the play clock running down, calling a delay of game instead, when it appeared the Bengal defender was in the neutral zone when the play clock hit zero.

They also missed what appeared to be a helmet to helmet hit on Kessler on the play he suffered a concussion.

At least the schedule starts to see some home games for Jackson and his team, and it starts next week with a contest with the Jets, which should be a game the Browns can win.

But who will be the quarterback?  Can Kessler recover enough to play next week?  Or will it be Hogan in his first NFL start?  Or will veteran Josh McCown go back out there?

It’s always a QB question in Cleveland.

JD

Allowing The Big Play Kills Browns Today

It is very difficult to maintain optimism regarding an 0-6 NFL team.

Going into the season, we preached that the Cleveland Browns were not going to be good this season, in fact, we figured a 2-14 or 3-13 record would be about what the final record would be.

That doesn’t mean it’s fun to watch the games and see the young players make mistakes that cost the Browns every week.  Hue Jackson will tell us that it is his job to coach them up, but we all know he’s got to be shaking his head when watching the film.

Today, the final score wasn’t indicative of the closeness of the game.  The defense allowed too many big play, including the very first one, a 41-yard run by Titans’ QB Marcus Mariota.  But the young Browns kept fighting to the end, but still wound up on the short end of a 28-26 score.

Here are the positives, negatives, and officiating comments from today’s contest.

Positives.  Much was made of Tennessee’s ground game coming into the week, but outside of that first run by Mariota, the Browns controlled DeMarco Murray, who averaged just over 3 yards a carry.

After the initial play, Cleveland allowed just 96 rushing yards on 30 attempts.

Cody Kessler played well too, completing 26 of 41 passes for his first NFL 300 yard passing day (336 yards) and two touchdown throws, both to Terrelle Pryor.

Pryor was productive too, grabbing nine receptions for 75 yards.  Kessler has yet to hit him on a deep throw though.

And after being belittled on a pre-game show earlier in the day for no reason, Danny Shelton had his first NFL sack and five tackles.  The nose tackle’s play is a big reason for the success against the run for the Browns for most of this season.

Negatives.  If we were Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta, we would be scouring the waiver wire for cornerbacks.

Without Joe Haden today, Titans’ WR Kendall Wright blistered the secondary for eight catches and 133 yards.  All in all, Tennessee had three plays of over 40 yards.

The offensive line continues to struggle.  The Browns couldn’t run the ball (15 attempts, 40 yards) and Kessler was sacked six times.

Austin Pasztor is not a tackle, and should be playing guard, and Alvin Bailey shouldn’t be playing at all.  Perhaps Jackson should try newcomer Jonathan Cooper and rookie Shon Coleman starting next week, because the Browns need to run the football much better than they have the last two weeks.

Ricardo Louis had five grabs for 65 yards, but dropped at least two passes that we could count.  The rookie’s hands were questionable on draft day, and he needed to help out his QB by making some plays today.

Cleveland was just 3 for 14 on third down conversions and seemed to be equally bad on first down, shooting themselves in the foot with negative plays and/or penalties on first down, putting Kessler in a lot of bad positions.

That’s not helping the kid’s progress.

Officiating.  Nothing stands out here.  The worst call might have gone the Browns’ way as they flagged the Titans for pass interference on a long pass to Duke Johnson, where we though the contact was minimal.

Now the road show for the Browns take them to Cincinnati to play the struggling Bengals, the team Jackson was offensive coordinator for a year ago.

The points of emphasis this week should be the offensive line/running back and the secondary.  Those positions were the biggest disappointments we can take away from this week six loss.

JD