One move left for Haslam
Further proof Hue Jackson is not the great coach Jimmy Haslam III believed he hired a couple of years ago . . .
Jackson has allowed the sobriquet “quarterback whisperer” to be attached to his name and reputation, but that has hardly been the case in his two extraordinarily long seasons as head coach of the Browns.
First of all, his enormous hubris ruled out any possibility of scanning the vast National Football League landscape for an offensive coordinator for those seasons. Oh no. Ol’ Hue can handle that one himself.
It took two years and 31 losses to convince Mr. Whisperer that coordinating offenses and calling plays robbed him even more of his limited capabilities as a head coach.
Wrapped up mainly in what was happening with his chug, chug, chugging offense, he oftentimes lost sight of what else was happening on the field. Head coaching is a whole lot more that controlling just one side of the football.
Most successful head coaches are solid strategists and tacticians, attributes Jackson struggles with. They think well ahead of what’s taking place on the field. They are several plays and, in some cases, a series or two ahead of that action.
They think ahead all the time. They plot all the time. Keen anticipation is essential and Jackson possesses none of these necessary attributes of being a successful head coach.
Right now, Jackson’s biggest boast is his team never quit this past season despite losing all 16 games. He, at least according to some, had a firm handle on the locker room. That’s how his owner seems to be rationalizing his coach’s improbable return.
Think about that for a moment. Jackson did not lose the locker room. His players played for him. They did not win a game and showed little or no progress, but they sure as hell played for him.
Never mind that he subjected his rookie quarterback to league-wide humiliation on a weekly basis – although DeShone Kizer missed the equivalent of two full games via two benchings and a migraine – and stubbornly fed him an offense better suited for the talents of a veteran.
Never mind he all but pledged his offense this past season would be more balanced than the year before, when it was obscenely pass heavy, and yet it was even more unbalanced in 2017.
Jackson should have known better than to jam a pass-heavy, field-stretching offense on a raw rookie who entered the NFL with the reputation of having a foreign relationship with accuracy in throwing a forward pass.
Rather than dumbing down the playbook in order to give Kizer a better chance of succeeding, Jackson relentlessly called on the kid to make plays of which he was incapable. Instead of teaching him how to read defenses and identify trouble before it happened, he pushed even harder on the throw-the-rock button.
The Browns, mostly Kizer, dropped back to throw the football roughly 69% of the time, up 2% from last season. The running game was virtually forgotten as the Browns became one of the most predictable offensive teams in the league.
As a result, Kizer threw a league-high 22 interceptions, a number that might have been a lot higher had a dozen other picks not been dropped. He was also the team’s second leading rusher with 419 yards on 77 carries, roughly 50 of them scrambles.
Jackson’s love of the quick aerial strike also led Kizer and his big arm to rack up only 30 so-called chunk plays among his 255 completions. Chunk plays in the passing game are those generally considered to be passes that gain a minimum of 25 yards. Less than two a game was not nearly enough.
Plays like those that excited fans and led to the false notion Kizer just might be the franchise quarterback the Browns have sought for nearly two decades. The 22 interceptions quickly snapped them back to reality.
Kizer more than lived up to his advance billing out of Notre Dame that he would thrill you one minute and break your heart the next minute. It was that inconsistency and propensity to continually make dumb plays that Jackson was never able to harness.
In the end, Kizer was not a better quarterback in week 16 than he was in week one or week eight or even week 12, Jackson has to share a large part of the blame for that failure.
He also had himself to blame by himself for allowing the Browns to begin this past season with three quarterbacks with a total of zero victories among them. It was a recipe for disaster and that was what was delivered.
If Haslam cannot see the flaws of the coach he professes to still believe in, then he was either not paying attention for the last four months to what was going on down on the field or he is delusional.
When he bought the club from Randy Lerner, Browns Nation sighed a sigh of relief. It couldn’t get any worse, fans thought. Turns out they were wrong. But that can be fixed with one more simple move.