The Cleveland Browns are still looking for their first win of the season. The Browns lost their fifth game of the year, falling to the New York Jets, 17-14, at FirstEnergy Stadium. The game should have been a win for the Browns, but the team could not get out of their own way. Turnovers, penalties, mental mistakes and bad coaching resulted in the Browns still being in search of their first win. But, hey the Browns led at one point. That’s progress.
The Browns first half performance was so, so, so Browns. Cleveland outgained New York 175 yards to just 67 yards. The Browns defense was great. They allowed little movement by the Jets offense for most of the half. Myles Garrett made his NFL debut with a bang, getting a sack on his very first play. The unit caused a turnover and gave the Browns offense great field position for most of the first half. But, sadly there are three units on a football team and the Browns offense and special teams were awful.
The Browns offense moved the ball pretty well in the first half, especially on the ground with the offense gaining 90 total yards on the ground. But, when the offense moved to scoring position or the redzone, it imploded. The Browns reached the redzone twice in the half and came away with zero points. Quarterback DeShone Kizer and the offense committed two turnovers in the redzone, killing two chances to finally get the team’s first lead of the season. Kizer was just not good enough in the half, killing chances for the team to score some points.
But, the special teams, in particular kicker Zane Gonzalez, did not play well in the first half, also. When the offense was halted, the Browns turned to their kicking game on two occasions to help get them some points. But, Gonzalez missed his two field goal attempts in the first half, one from 52 yards and another from 39 yards. The Browns offense did everything they could to not give the team its first lead of the season. They were successful in that venture and somehow the Browns trailed 3-0 at the half.
With the poor performance of Kizer in the first half, the Jackson benched the rookie and started Kevin Hogan under center at the start of the second half. The move immediately made dividends. Hogan led an impressive 10-play, 75-yard drive capped off by an awesome one-handed touchdown catch by tight end David Njoku. This touchdown gave the Browns their first lead of the season. However, the honeymoon quickly ended for Hogan as he threw a high pass that was deflected and picked off on the unit’s next drive. The turnover led to the Jets first touchdown of the game, which gave New York the 10-7 lead. Hogan rebounded from his turnover, but Hue Jackson and his in-game decision-making reared its ugly head.
After putting together a nice 11-play drive, the Browns drive was halted at the four-yard line with a 4th-and-2 ahead. Rather than kick the tying field goal, Jackson decided to go for it and called up a horrendous play call to do it. The Browns handed the ball to Crowell, who was stopped for one yard, turning the ball over on downs. That was pretty much the play and decision of the game. The call backfired even more when the Jets sliced through the Browns defense after the stop for an eight-play, 97-yard touchdown drive. The Browns were pretty much done from there as the Browns trailed by ten. Duke Johnson made an amazing touchdown to put some from fluff on the loss, but the decision to call timeout and go for it on fourth down was the deciding factor in the game. The Browns ran out of time, falling to the New York Jets, 17-14.
Even with the horrible first half performance by the offense, the Browns were in position to win. But, Jackson killed that shot with his bad decision to go for that fourth down. It ended up being the difference in the game. Jackson must answer for that decision. It was a bad day for Jackson as he will also have to answer for his benching of Kizer. The move seemed to improve the offense, but the question is where the position stands going forward. Who is the team’s starting quarterback?
Jackson’s decision to go for it on fourth down and his benching of Kizer will be the big topics this week. The Browns will look to get their first win of the season next week as they travel to Houston to face Deshaun Watson and the Texans.