Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Mid-week thoughts

In the two short seasons Hue Jackson has been in the command seat on the field, he has operated the Browns in an autocratic way when it comes to running the offense.

In some ways, he is still living and coaching in the past. If it worked back then, he reasons, it should work now.

That is not, nor has ever been, the way it works.

Football players are different now. The game itself is different now. Adjustments need to be made. Jackson is reluctant to make them. And he is suffering the consequences.

He rigidly believes his system is tried and true and stubbornly forces players on offense to play beyond their capabilities, which is patently unfair. It should be the other way around. Forcing them to play outside their comfort zones rarely results in success.

Since coming to Cleveland, Jackson has had reason to smile after just one of the 23 games he has coached. Time for a memory jog: It was Dec. 24 of last year and the result was a 20-17 home victory over the San Diego Chargers.

When a football team plays that many games over an extended period of time and wins only once, it doesn’t take a nuclear physicist to determine there is something very wrong.

Never mind the close losses. A loss is still a loss no matter the closeness of the final score. Just like a victory is still a victory no matter the closeness of the final score.

The players are trying. They really are. If there is one thing you can’t accuse this team of, it’s quitting. At least not yet. Bottom line: They are not talented enough to win games.

The defense has achieved a modicum of success and is clearly the most effective part of this team. The offense, on the other hand, is an unmitigated disaster and the main reason the Browns are still winless.

Fans of any professional football franchise should never have to endure such ineptitude. It is unconscionable that those in charge off the field seem to be meeting this ineptitude with a shoulder shrug.

In essence, they say, “Don’t worry. We’ll get better. Trust us. We’re doing it the right way. Be patient.” Well, the patience has run out. A two-thirds filled home stadium – at least that’s the way it looked on television last Sunday – is mute evidence many fans are fed up.

If Jackson were coaching in just about any other National Football League city and sported a 1-22 record after 23 games, he would have been summarily dismissed long before this with not so much as a "thank you for your services" as he departed.

There are those, on the other hand, who would argue the fault should lie much higher than the coach’s room and that Jackson is doing his best with arguably the worst roster in the NFL from a talent standpoint.

They say he has not been dealt a winning hand or at least a competitive hand. The front office of Sashi Brown, Paul DePodesta and Andrew Berry trashed the roster it inherited a couple of years ago and filled it back up with numbers (bodies?) rather than talent. Quantity trumps quality.

It has cobbled together a team made up of a few free agents and a boatload of players from the last two college drafts whose underperforming contributions add up to a 1-22 record.

The fact Jackson is still around borders on the remarkable. Either that or it is a testament to the belief (not necessarily his) he has a good chance of outlasting the current regime, sticking around when the owners decide to make another change and then benefitting from that change.

That, however, does not address the problem this season. That little conundrum now lies in the laps of the Haslams at the top of the food chain.

If Dee and Jimmy III hold serve in the next couple of weeks, that sends a signal to the paying customers – and Browns Nation as a whole – that the malaise stretches all the way up to their office.

Where is the accountability? The success of any business depends largely on accountability from within. Without it, the chances of being successful diminish exponentially.

Where is the accountability at 76 Lou Groza Blvd.? And why are those accountable for this mess still around?

Now I don’t know much about the business world, but I suspect Haslam, as CEO of Pilot Flying J, would not put up with ineptitude within that company. If he tasks one of his high ranking employees to fix a multitude of company problems and he fixes only one, that person would not be around for long.

It is understandable the Haslams do not want to make yet another front office change. It would be their fourth in five years. But from a business standpoint and for the good and welfare of this franchise for the immediate future, they will have to. And then hope this time they finally get it right.

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