I want to care about the Browns so badly, I really do. There was even a point during the fourth quarter where I stood up to watch. These are typically actions reserved for playoff baseball or the NBA Finals, but here I was, on my feet, hoping Cody Kessler (what?) could lead the Browns down the field with guys like Ricardo Louis and Bryce Treggs (who?) in order to score a touchdown in a game where there had been nothing but field goals.
I stood wondering why the Tennessee Titans continued to run the ball despite it garnering them nothing, but then appreciated it when it would result in the Browns getting endless chances to tie the game, if not take the all-out lead — crazy talk, I know.
I quickly realized how ridiculous this endeavor would be. The Browns, through 2017, have had the lead for all of five minutes and six seconds this season. That’s a hair over one percent of all minutes played. There’s losing, and there’s this.
LOSER: DeShone Kizer
I found myself rooting for DeShone Kizer this season, much more so than some of his predecessors. Sure, I wanted Johnny Manziel to be good — the kid was electric and he had so many doubters that it became a badge of honor to a point — but with Kizer, there was a mix of that whole doubt aspect coupled with the fact that the kid is protypical size, came from a prestigious program, fell to the team in the second round, and his success — if it were to happen — would make everyone look good. Hue. Sashi. The team. Everyone. But then he does this…
I have no idea where things go from here. I do know two things, however: That him allegedly being out downtown on a Friday night has absolutely nothing to do with any of his struggles, and that it’s tough to come back from multiple benchings in a three-week stretch.
LOSER: Hue Jackson
It wasn’t all that long ago when then Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott started implementing a zone defense. His team was getting destroyed on a nightly basis, and it was sort of par for the course when the talent gap was so wide. I thought Scott could hang on as the team looked to rebuild, but once the nightly attempts at the 2-3 zone were implemented, it was officially the look of a desperate man who knew he was on borrowed time and had nothing left to loose — even if it meant rolling with Manny Harris against guys like Paul Pierce.
This is the exact same feeling I get with Hue Jackson, a man who was supposed to be a part of a rebuilding process — developing, setting a foundation of discipline and positive culture — who is now left flailing to his own demise, making bone-headed decisions (like declining a personal foul penalty that would effectively take the Tennessee Titans out of field goal range) while treating quarterbacks like punt returners. Once again not helping Hue’s case is his indignant responses when questioned — “I’m not worried about the quarterback; I know you guys are,” he said to the media postgame — and fact that while it’s not always the same thing, it’s always something.
It’s not the hot seat; it’s an ejector seat. Good news is: His parachute’s made of gold.
WINNER: Cody Kessler
As it turns out, all you need to become the starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns is patience. Starting the season as the third quarterback on the depth chart, wearing street clothes for much of this season, Kessler not only got promoted to No. 2 — he got to suit up midway through. While Jackson says he once again has to “watch the tape”, it’d be shocking if he went back to Kizer at this point, meaning the job is Kessler’s despite him throwing an interception and being completely unable to move the ball when the team needed it the most. Have fun watching this one, London.
LOSER: Gregg Williams
Four offsides penalties in the first half; five throughout the entire game. Not only is this the sign of an undisciplined team, it’s a direct reflection of preparation and focus. This Cleveland Browns team can ill afford to give free yardage. That some of these penalties came at crucial, third-down junctures is simply inexcusable.1
WINNER: Joe Thomas
I’ve become pretty desensitized to all things Cleveland Browns, but this one stings.
To put this whole snap streak in perspective, here’s Peter King:
Just 2.0% of all active NFL players played every snap in 2016. Joe Thomas played every Cleveland offensive snap for 10 years and 6 games.
— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) October 23, 2017
And if you need some levity, here’s PFT Commenter:
i hope Joe Thomases arm heal's like in rookie of the year & he takes the browns 2 the superbowl as a gunslinger QB
— PFTCommenter (@PFTCommenter) October 22, 2017
A kid can dream.
WINNER: Zane Gonzalez
Just a few weeks after Gonzalez looked like he had never kicked a football before, the kid delivers throughout this one, burying a 54-yarder to send the game into overtime. A perfect 3-for-3 on a day when points were hard to come by. Tough to ask more of the rookie.
WINNER: Duke Johnson
We’ve been clamoring for this kid to get more touches, and while he still lost out on snap count to Isaiah Crowell, it’s Johnson who continues to make the most out of his limited opportunities. The checkdown offense of both Kizer and Kessler led to Johnson being targeted a team-high seven times and hauled in six of them for 45 yards through the air (in addition to seven rushes for 26 yards). Given that the entire Cleveland Browns offense needs a change of pace, here’s hoping this is a sign of things to come.
WINNER: Brien Boddy-Calhoun
Thrust into the starting lineup with the absence of Jason McCourty, BBC had himself a hell of an afternoon. Boddy-Calhoun was largely avoided by Tennessee in the passing game, but he allowed just one completion, broke up another pass, and tallied two stops in the run game.
Just Boddy-Calhoun taking on a block from Taylor Lewan and tackling Derrick Henry. LOL what a game from #20. pic.twitter.com/UbqnBOHHLv
— Jake Burns (@jake_burns18) October 23, 2017
LOSER: Mike Mularky
Pro Tip: When you’re facing a team with one of the best run-stopping units in the league who is also missing one-half of its starting defensive backfield, why are you running the ball? Mind blowing.
WINNER: David Njoku
He only had two catches, but Njoku tallied a team-high 58 yards. More importantly: He looks like the kind of play-making weapon that could be a ton of fun to watch in the coming years if the Browns find a way to consistently get him the football.
And briefly, the fans:
Winners- Williams and the defense. In an awful year, they’re a bright spot.
Losers – everyone else
— JM85 (@Mal0307) October 22, 2017
Winners: The Defense, Gregg Williams, Zane
Losers: JT (sorry), the rest of the season for the O line, Hue, everyone that jumped offsides.
— Chris King (@kingtopher27) October 22, 2017
- Some may choose to blame Hue for this as well, and that’s fair. I’d counter with plenty of blame being there for the sharing. [↩]