Browns, Podcast

Browns loss to Colts is upsetting but not shocking

In hindsight, it’s a wonder that the Browns were favored to win against Indianapolis. The Browns were banged up before the week began and as it progressed, the news only got worse when we found out Jamie Collins would miss the game with his concussion symptoms lingering. The Browns were trying to come up with enough wide receivers to field an offense as they re-signed Jordan Leslie, who despite making one of the greatest catches we’ve ever seen, wasn’t able to make the Browns a winner. The Browns just weren’t worthy of being considered a road favorite.

The Colts still had the best player on the field. Football is the ultimate team game, but if you have the best player, you’ve always got a shot of winning. T.Y. Hilton was rendered mostly useless in his first two games this season against the Rams and Cardinals. The Browns were able to let him get his mojo back. Jacoby Brissett isn’t the next coming of Tom Brady, but it stands to reason that the 6-foot 4-inch QB would need more than 14 days after his trade on September 3 to become acquainted with his new surroundings and phenomenal new receiver, T.Y. Hilton. Hilton caught seven balls on nine targets for 153 yards and a touchdown.

That’s an incendiary talent that the Browns just don’t have. Corey Coleman missed the game, and we all hope he can do that at some point, but his career best is 104 yards on five receptions. Plus, he’s only been healthy for 12 games out of his 19 career opportunities.

There’s plenty to complain about with the Browns’ performance, and I’m not trying to say it’s alright that they lost. It’s not. The Browns could have won that game with the talent they do have. Their coaches have to take some responsibility for this loss. 10 penalties for 113 yards is on the coaches. Converting just five of 13 third downs is on the coaches in a variety of ways. The Browns average third down for the day was 3rd and 8.4 yards. Three third down plays resulted in penalties that took the team to 3rd and 13, 3rd and 17, and 3rd and 13. So even when the Browns had some of their more manageable third downs, they penalized themselves and made them next-to-impossible.

The coaching issues don’t stop there. Hue Jackson once again abandoned the run far too quickly. One of DeShone Kizer’s interceptions – the one in the red zone – occurred on Kizer’s fifth straight pass. The Browns rushed the ball 21 times and threw it 47 times. I know they were down, but putting your rookie quarterback in a position where he can throw three interceptions is a recipe for disaster. Hue Jackson appears to only have one way of coaching and that’s as if Aaron Rodgers was his quarterback.

I think we all believe DeShone Kizer has much more upside than Colt McCoy, but remember McCoy’s two wins as a rookie? He completed nine of 16 passes in New Orleans and 14 of 19 at home against New England. The Browns relied on a steady diet of Peyton Hillis. Remember Hillis went for 184 yards against New England on 29 carries. Mike Bell, Josh Cribbs, and Lawrence Vickers had another 11 carries between them. That’s extreme, but it’s how you limit the risk of overexposure with your rookie QB.

None of this is to say that Hue Jackson can’t be the long-term solution for the Browns or that he really should Mike Fratello the Browns to try and win games in scrappy unentertaining ways. Maybe that’s not the best long-term approach for developing a quarterback like DeShone Kizer. I’m just pretty sure there’s a balance between conscripting your guy to less than game manager and pretending like he’s Drew Brees.

So, I wasn’t particularly shocked that the Browns lost on Sunday. As a result, I’m also not particularly outraged about it. The Browns are probably better than a year ago, but they need to get healthy on that defense and win the way we thought they would before the season started. They need to win by running the ball, playing good defense and closing games out. Hopefully the returns of Jamie Collins and Myles Garrett make that possible in the coming weeks.

If not, I’m sure we’ll be talking about Jimmy Haslam’s patience and Hue Jackson’s future.

  • Harv

    Re the run-pass imbalance, keep in mind that of the 21 runs, 7 were by Kizer. At this point it’s pretty clear that Hue cannot control himself, that what he most wants is to see his rookie throw and then impart advice to him on the sideline. And this strange overreach, this refusal to delegate the kid’s care and feeding so he can manage the bigger team picture, might ultimately be his undoing.

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  • tigersbrowns2

    hi HARV … i will have to go back & see how many of those runs were on 1st down. it seems that many of the 1st downs plays are short runs by Crowell putting us in 2nd & long & a probable passing situation … i would like to see more short high% passes on first down to at least keep the defense honest. also , being down 28-7 factored into the run/pass mix.

    many are now thinking Hue being the HC & OC may be too much for him … but , there a few guys doing it. being the youngest team in the NFL , having a rookie QB & having a sub-par receiving corps isn’t helping matters … but on the bright side , the Browns have outgained their last 2 opponents.

  • Chris

    I’m not sure there’s a route in all the NFL’s library of playbooks that can be a high percentage play with this wide receiver group.

    Snaps… looks to 1st option, not open… looks to 2nd option, not open… stares down 1st option hoping he’ll eventually create enough separation to warrant a throw… sack for 8 yard loss.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi CHRIS … in all seriousness , we see all the rest of the stuff going on with coaching , penalties , turnovers & dropping passes , but do you see that “something” in Kizer ?? considering that the Browns will have 2 first round picks next year & one of them probably being in the top 5 , they need to know if they have a QB in Kizer or not.

    he only got sacked 1 time last game , so there’s some improvement there … though all of the interceptions weren’t his fault the red zone int’s against the Ravens & Colts were killers. perhaps we can use the high picks in the next draft & possibly in the next free-agent period to add some serious play-makers on offense.

  • tsm

    My nightmare scenario is Kizer doing just enough this year that the HBT thinks he is the answer, and then we pass on someone like Darnold. I agree that we must play Kizer in order to see as clearly as possible if he is our guy. From what I understand, accuracy is an issue with him, and this is not something that can be coached out of him. I hope I am wrong.

  • BenRM

    By draft time next year, Darnold, Rosen, and whoever else will have plenty of warts. Remember, almost a year ago now, after the Texas game, Kizer was going to be the first QB taken.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi TSM … yes , we’ve been down that road many times … kinda like “Groundhog Day”. I like Kizer will be okay if we can keep him from getting killed.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi BEN … good point. I still like Kizer … not too many rookies come into the league & tear-it-up their first year & especially ones on young / poor teams. the O-line appears to be in decent shape , we just have to get him some solid play-makers.

  • mgbode

    Darnold & Rosen already have tons of warts being exposed.

    Rosen – incredibly inconsistent. he has been either wretched or amazing- oftentimes depending on what quarter in a game you are watching.

    Darnold – given flak all offseason about his work & practice habits. wonky throwing motion. inaccurate on throws. tons of upside but how much is it USC playmakers making him look better than he is?

    If you want to get the scouting community up in a huff though, mention Mason Rudolph. He has opinions ranging all over the map.

  • mgbode

    Darnold is a similar prospect to Kizer in that he has mechanical flaws that cause accuracy concerns. He has his hip open up on downfield throws rather than stepping directly into them to keep his lower half connected. Kizer has that show up sometimes, but his most common mistake is his feet getting too wide.

    Both are correctable, but they have such a similar issue that it is tough to say one will definitely correct instead of the other.

  • Harv

    and here we strongly disagree. With this QB, with this receiver group, with this expensive O-line, second and long should NOT be a probable passing down. Nor should 3rd and 3. To get the O-line in sync you will have to suffer boring three-and-outs. Crowell and Johnson will have to churn and push. And you don’t make first down the “surprise” passing down until the running game clicks – otherwise you are Pat Shurmur, forever outsmarting himself.

    Browns have outgained? Cmon, Tiger. That’s like tallying empty passing yards the defense cedes in underneath catches when we’re down 2 scores with 5 minutes left. The Browns were crushed the last two games.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi MG … is “wonky” some technical draft jargon ??

  • tigersbrowns2

    good morning , sir … i just think we can be a little more creative than run-run-pass every series. and the “Browns outgaining there last 2 opponents” is absolutely a juicy little nugget when Browns fans are already throwing in the towel … this may not mean much to you , but the Browns are 15th in total offense , 12th in passing offense & 24th in rushing offense … this tells me we are moving the football fairly well but are getting derailed with turnovers , penalties & drops.

  • BenRM

    I have watched a bit of Darnold and I haven’t been wowed.

    Not that ND QBs have fared better, but the last good QB out of USC was Palmer. I think the playmaker argument holds water.

  • mgbode

    Yes. You have to attend an 8 hour certificate scouting program just to be able to use the term on the internet.

  • mgbode

    Why I try to separate QB functions from numbers for college QBs. Exhausting process though as it takes watching a ton of them and is still really hard to get correct because of the offenses being run.

    Still, you can see specific tools such as arm strength, mechanics on delivery, pressure, and sometimes ability to work through progressions.

    Rosen/Darnold could be an interesting battle because they sort of have opposite strengths/flaws.

  • paulbip

    Hue is not starting Hogan because he is white and went to a real college.

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  • Jay S

    Look– We as fans need to get off the QB next yr merri-go- round mindset. Its always next year’s draft to try for the next shinny object. It doesn’t matter what ROOKIE QB we have if we STILL have a coach that doesn’t know or want develop a effective game play for this roster. Making a rookie throw 47 time in a game is just stupid. He did the same thing to Cody last year, -who he got murdered. It’s rise and repeat with this coach, with no proper self evaluation.

  • Jay S

    Bill Belicheck can take these same “sub-par” WR and make them effective. We already have enough talent.

  • Jay S

    Hmmm. The Pats for years have had no name,”sub-par” wr. using DINK and DUNK. And have 5 championships!. Its the COACH. And yes, even OUR wr could make high percentage play work IF our coach believed in creating them often. But he doesn’t

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi JAY … you are right … the guys we have should be able to do the job. somebody’s gotta step-up.

  • Jay S

    No, No we don’t. We already have enough talent. ITS THE COACH

  • Jay S

    Lol, Damn, its like that!? Man I was not ready. After reading all the atypical post b/f yours I was pleasantly caught off guard a little.

  • tigersbrowns2

    i will reserve judgement on Hue right now … he has the youngest team in the NFL right now , there are going to be mistakes … the 47 throws were pretty much dictated by being down 28-7 in the 2nd quarter.

    Kizer will be the guy.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hmmmm …. we’ve been firing HC’s every 1-2 years since 1999 … when do you finally leave a guy in there & try to get a little continuity going ??

  • Jay S

    I’m not calling for his firing. Just pointing out its not just on the player. Hue is HC/OC. He sets the offensive agenda and game plan. And quite frankly I don’t see any diff in Hue this yr than from last yr. Qb sneak on the 4 against I think b-more. Really?? Horrible