A call for Hue Jackson to give up play calling duties

Hue, it’s time to delegate. Actually it is way past the time to relinquish your offensive play calling duties to one of your assistant coaches. Delegation is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of being a leader and trusting in the coaches you are leading. Trust in them because your current role of play calling, in-game decision making, and leading the team each Sunday afternoon is not working.

Your Browns are 0-5. Yes, they have a disparity in talent which has led to the lack of wins over the course of the past two seasons. We cannot overlook that and place the entire blame on you. As I wrote last week, the blame for the current state of the Browns organization is not on one factor be it you, the front office or the ownership — you are all to blame. However, the results have shown nothing in the way of helping players develop, instead forcing them to fit in to a scheme rather than building the scheme around their talents and abilities.

Let’s start with the overall scheme and offensive play calling over the course of one and a quarter seasons. Last season with a rookie quarterback in Cody Kessler starting the majority of games, the Browns had the fewest amount of rush attempts, and the fifth lowest rushing play percentage in the league. The team rushed just 350 times, 38.17 percent of their total plays. This season with another rookie quarterback starting under center, the offense has continued its pass-happy ways. Of the 328 plays on offense, the Browns have rushed just 117 times or 35.67 percent of the time. On Monday night, in Mitchell Trubisky’s first game with the Bears, Chicago ran 28 pass plays (25 attempts) while running the ball 26 times. Houston rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson threw the ball 31 times on Sunday night — large in part fueled by the Texans playing catchup — while they ran the ball 23 times.  Yes, the Browns will never be an equal run/pass offense due to playing from behind more often than not, but the large preference towards the pass is unwarranted and is hurting the team.

Over the course of the past two seasons, we have seen the Browns pass the ball at a ridiculous amount of times. When a rookie quarterback who has never taken an NFL snap before that year leads an offense, the offense should not be put entirely on his back. The run game should be heavily used to lessen the stress on the young quarterback and to make the defense not solely aim their focus at the quarterback. But under Jackson, he has yet to do that for his young signal callers. Factor in the resources used on the offensive line this past offseason and it is an equal disservice.

Early on in Kizer’s season, he was tasked to run an offense that did not feature the team’s running backs and had a young, struggling receiver corps. All you did for your rookie quarterback was make his plate more full. He has been asked to throw down field at a high rate — according to Pro Football Focus, Kizer has attempted 23 passes of 20 or more yards. This is the ninth-most amount of deep passes in the entire league. Rather than play action passes, screens, or bootlegs that help narrow down quarterback’s focus and lessen the attention from the defense, you’ve called for plays that force Kizer to scan the field for longer periods of time as all the attention of the defense is on him.

Lest you think this is choosing the quarterback over the coach, these issues are not specific to just DeShone Kizer. On Sunday, you did the same to Kevin Hogan after pulling Kizer for similar issues.

In this play, your Browns are faced with a tough 3rd-and-15 play in the fourth quarter with the win still within reach. The probability to get a first down is already low based on the long yardage to gain, but the play calling did quarterback Kevin Hogan and the offense no favors. The play was a mass protection with three receivers running three streak routes down field. The play call did not threaten the defense on different levels, allowing the pass rush to be complimented by deep defensive backs. All three receivers just ran up field and gave no threat of a defender having to choose to cover one player or the other. It was a weak call in a tough situation. It’s the sort of play your overmatched friend runs in Madden when they’re hoping to luck into a pass interference call and a first down.

Need more examples? You’re in luck.

This play has many different facets, but let’s start with the play call. The Browns were faced with a 4th-and-2 situation inside the 5-yard line. You decided to line up in a single back set with a receiver in both slots and a tight end on both sides of the line. The Jets came out looking for a run and reading run. As WFNY’s Jake Burns pointed out on Twitter, the Jets moved two linebackers two the right reading that the play was a simple run to the right. And it was a simple run to the right and the Jets stopped it easily. In the biggest play of the game to this point, you called a timeout and decided to call an easily telegraphed run. There was no disguise or blocking concept that could help counter the heavy defensive presence on that side of the ball. The formation was compact allowing the entire defense to be in the area to retreat to the ball quickly enough to stop it. The play failed before it was even snapped. It was the exact opposite of what the Bears did with a rookie quarterback late in the game on Monday night.

The Vikings are one of the NFL’s best defenses yet had no idea what to do here.

Worse: On the fourth down play above, you initially called for the field goal team. It was only after the time out did you decide to put the offense back out there for that horrid play. If not having a decision made before the play wasn’t a sign of incapability, the play call coming out of the time out certainly sealed the deal.

It is time, Hue. It’s time to just be a head coach. Give up play calling. The play calling has suffered, the in-game decision-making has suffered, player development has suffered, and the clock management has suffered due to wearing too many hats. Give up the offensive play calling Hue, or this might be your demise as a NFL head coach.

  • BenRM

    Hear! Hear!

    Hue’s play calling, treatment of Kizer, abandonment of the ground game, and awful clock/time out management have crippled this team. The team’s absence of talent doesn’t help, but Hue’s “coaching” exacerbates the issue.

  • RGB
  • Chris

    Take a seat, Hue. Let me tell you a story.

    Rose and Jack had a fling, but then disaster struck. Rose didn’t want to let go of Jack, but Jack had already frozen to death. Rose eventually let go. Rose lived a long happy life. Be like Rose.

  • I thought about this earlier today, Joe. However I came to the conclusion that Hue is likely waiting for someone who’s not just a great playcaller, but also someone who he trusts to call plays from Hue’s playbook and not his own. So if your plea is for Hue to give up his playcalling duties now, that will likely fall of deaf ears. The offseason season however remains a possibility.

    Likely scenario: Once the season is over, I think Hue will look for and hire a “OC” with the same responsibilities that Pep Hamilton had here, minus quarterback coaching duties.

  • Eric G

    She did, however, never let go

  • Chris

    Seriously Rose… it’s been 85 years. Move on already.

    (That movie is 20 years old)

  • Harv

    Agree, and I’ve said this since last year. But here’s why it won’t happen voluntarily:

    – they hired Hue for his acumen on that side of the ball; that’s where his perceived value and expertise lies, that was his pitch at hiring. If he’s not demonstrating these skills then what is his value? He’s never showed particular competence as a head coach, a single 8-8 year notwithstanding (Pettine was 7-9, after all).

    – He’s been previously canned, in his mind unjustly, and knows that this is probably his last shot. Guys in that sitch tend to consolidate power, not delegate. They get paranoid when the whispers start, don’t trust their fate to others and they sure as hell don’t empower potential successors. See, e.g., Mangini, Eric.

    If the Haslams opt for stability next year as their best option, even if only to convince potential future coaches that they’re no longer so twitchy, they may force an OC on Hue. And he won’t have much leverage to resist: it’s really hard to peddle yourself with consecutive 1-win seasons on that resume. Knowing Hue, he’ll say he had that in mind all along but just needed that foundation laid.

  • Harv

    … because a brain-damaged QB who retired two decades ago and has never coached anyone on any level is definitely inspired. ‘Cuz his poster used to be on my wall and he gets us, most def. Up next: repeatedly putting Cap Guys in charge of player evaluation/football ops.

  • RGB

    Nothing else has worked…

  • Harv

    We haven’t tried Ken Dorsey. Or Brian Sipe. Gary Danielson, Todd Philcox … Hell, why not Johnny? It’s the wall poster, I bet.

  • paulbip

    Hue is a phoney. “You can trust me on that one.”

  • Chris
  • tsm

    Agree that making him a coach is inappropriate. However, hiring him as a consultant might not be a bad idea. Brain damage or no, I have listened to him many times the last few years, and he has a high football I.Q. and is quite creative. The media is smitten with Romo for predicting plays, but Bernie was doing this years ago. (and yes, I do have a poster of Bernie on my wall)

  • The_Matt_of_Akron

    So you are going on record saying we will manage to win a game this year?

  • Harv

    Yes. As opponents take us less and less seriously, the chances of winning a single game increase substantially. Why so few awful teams in history have gone winless. It’s a scientific factoid that giggling significantly diminishes tackling and blocking ability.

  • Harv

    that made your day, right?

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  • Sam Gold

    Wanted RG3. Didn’t want Wentz. Wanted Kessler. Didn’t want Watson. Determined the limited college experience, slow processing, late release, raw beyond raw rookie was the best option to open the season and then design a scheme of 20+ yard pass plays and no run game. Not sure calling plays is the biggest issue. It might be but seems we have a pu pu platter of choices here.