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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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

 

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

 

 

 

Browns’ Offense Needs To Use Playmakers

Nobody with any common sense figured the Cleveland Browns would be a playoff team, but they did expect some kind of improvement.

We would feel satisfied with four or five wins this year.

However, after a promising beginning at home against the Steelers, confidence for that improvement is beginning to wane for even the staunchest supporters of the organization.

The Browns fell behind one of the teams they should be able to compete with, the Indianapolis Colts without Andrew Luck, 28-7 before rallying but falling short 31-28, and dropping their record to 0-3 on the season.

Offensively, Hue Jackson seems to have a couple of problems.

First, he seems to have a hard time committing to the run.  Isaiah Crowell ran the ball four times for 16 yards in the first five offense plays for Cleveland.

That was followed up by seven consecutive passing plays, of which one was completed.

On the Browns’ first touchdown drive, in which they tied the game at seven, Cleveland ran the ball four times for 37 yards, the other 38 came on a pass completion to Kenny Britt

At that point in the game, Crowell had seven carries for 34 yards.  He carried the ball just five times the rest of the game, which still had 43 minutes to go.

When the Browns got the ball back down by a touchdown on their next possession, they ran six plays, four of them passes.

Enough of that train of thought, the other problem the offense has right now is they don’t get the ball to the guys who can make plays.

Crowell ran 12 times and caught two passes.  Duke Johnson ran the ball twice, yes twice, and caught six passes, accounting for 104 yards, many of them coming in the fourth quarter, although he did score the first TD on a 19 yard run.

We may be in the minority, but Seth DeValve can make big plays.  Yet, he caught only two balls for 29 yards.  For the season, he has 8 catches, averaging over 16 yards per catch.

Rookie David Njoku, who will frustrate you with drops, has found the end zone twice in three games.

Instead the Browns targeted these three players 22 times in the passing game:  Britt, Rashard Higgins, and Ricardo Louis.  The trio caught six passes.

Our criticism is that instead of forcing the ball to a mediocre wide receiver group, Jackson needs to get his playmakers involved.

Defensively, the inability to stop WR T.Y. Hilton plagued the Browns.  Hilton caught seven passes for 153 yards and a 61 yard touchdown hookup.

Gregg Williams crew held the Colts under 100 yards rushing and a 2.6 average per rush.

But Indianapolis converted 8 of 17 third downs and that allowed them to win the time of possession statistic.

To be fair, the failure to use the running game doesn’t help keep the defense off the field.

Neither does losing the turnover battle, 3 to 1, although one of DeShone Kizer’s interceptions came on the last play of the game.

Joe Schobert continues to impress with eight tackles and a half a sack, and Nate Orchard had a sack as did Emmanuel Ogbah.

There were adjustments made at halftime, and the Colts got just a field goal in the second half, and that score was the result of an offside penalty on 4th and 2 from the Browns’ 40.

That’s something we would like to see from the offense.  Adjustments.  Use the players who can make plays, and stop getting away from the ground game so early.

Take some pressure off of your 21-year-old rookie quarterback.  We thought that was the plan when Kizer was given the job.  Unfortunately, as of right now, that’s not the case.

JD

 

 

Browns Draft Athleticism For Most Part

After all the rumors about the Browns taking local favorite Mitchell Trubisky with the first overall pick, common sense took over and they selected pass rusher Myles Garrett with Texas A & M with the choice.

Garrett was at the top of most analysts draft boards, so Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta didn’t overthink it, they took the best player available, which you should if you have the first pick in the draft.

As we have written before, we have followed the Browns for over 50 years, and they’ve never had a dominant pass rusher.  Hopefully, they filled that need today.

As for possible scenarios talked about during the day of the draft, that is trading up from #12 for Trubisky, those plans were thwarted when the Bears moved up to #2 to take the Mentor native.

There were several potentially good players waiting with the Browns’ second first round choice, but instead of taking Ohio State S Malik Hooker or Deshaun Watson, they traded with Houston, who did take the Clemson QB.

In return, Cleveland picked up another first round pick in 2018 and received the Texans’ 25th selection this year.

This gives the Browns five picks in the first two rounds next year, and infuriated fans who wanted the team to take somebody, anybody.

When they finally picked at #25, they took versatile defender Jabrill Peppers from Michigan.

We would have to classify this as new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ new toy, as we would bet he will primarily be a strong safety, but he can be used near the line of scrimmage too, and also fills a need as a punt returner.

The best thing we can say about Peppers is he’s a football player.  He can be used all over the place, and he played at a big time program which this regime likes.

There was one more move to be made when Cleveland moved back into the first round to take the 29th pick to take Miami TE David Njoku, another freaky athlete.

Our guess is it will not be long before Gary Barnidge is let go by the Browns, as he is over 30 years old, and this front office doesn’t seem to want anyone of that ilk besides Joe Thomas.

What do all of these picks have in common?  They are phenomenal athletes.  If you watched the NFL Combine, you saw what Garrett can do.  He’s got speed, power, and great leaping ability.

Peppers played some tailback at Michigan as well as his defensive duties, and at the combine, did drills with the linebackers and the secondary players.

Njoku is considered a rare athlete, with speed agility and explosiveness.  He’s only 20 years old, so he can get bigger as he matures.

As for the quarterback, remember that the draft did not end last night.  There are still six rounds to go and the Browns have a lot of picks.

Second, even if Cleveland would have drafted a QB last night, we would have started Cody Kessler at the beginning of the season anyway.  And if they draft a guy today, there is no pressure to start him right away.

If you are one of the quarterback obsessed, we understand you are not happy with the what happened last night in regards to the Cleveland Browns.

However, if you are about adding talent to a football team that needs it, you are happy today.  The Browns have helped their defense, and whoever the starting quarterback will be in 2017.

JD