CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The lesson from Sunday’s 33-17 loss to the Texans: it doesn’t matter what Hue Jackson does – at quarterback or any other position – this franchise is a lost cause as may be his future, and that of executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown, in Cleveland.
Jackson benched rookie DeShone Kizer and started Kevin Hogan Sunday in the hopes that Hogan, who had yet to start an NFL game, would provide a spark and get the offense on track. It did not work.
As for Jackson, he is now 1-21 as head coach, the Browns an NFL-worst 2-31 in their last 33 games, 4-39 since Week 12 of the 2014 season with the team 7-4 and under owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam since the start of the 2013 season they are an NFL-worst 15-55.
Unfortunately you can’t fire the owners and unfortunately they don’t seem inclined to sell the franchise so turning it around and getting it right falls squarely on their shoulders.
They are now 0-3 in hiring the front office and head coaches.
Here’s the good and bad from Sunday’s 33-17 thrashing.
Another McCourty Pick – Jason McCourty came away with his third interception of the season Sunday when he picked off Deshaun Watson and returned it 56 yards for the Browns’ lone touchdown of the afternoon. Myles Garrett pressured Watson to force the high throw and Garrett also had a key block on the return to lead to the TD.
Real Deal – Garrett was sensational Sunday. His speed off of the edge is a sight to behold. Garrett sacked Watson giving him 3 in 2 games. He also added 5 tackles in 39 snaps according to ProFootballFocus. Garrett pressured the pocket frequently providing a faint glimmer of hope. Imagine what he could do on 2 healthy ankles.
Select Special Teams Play – Britton Colquitt dropped a punt perfectly inside the 5 that Mike Jordan downed at the 4. Jordan also downed a second punt – this time late in the fourth quarter – at the Texans’ 2. After the defense forced a 3-and-out, Jabrill Peppers was finally able to run up on a kick and break off a 17-yard return to the Texans’ 27. Rookie kicker Zane Gonzalez broke 0-3 streak with a 41-yard field goal that tied the game at 3.
No Quit – The Browns didn’t mail it in again late against the Texans soft defense. Hogan threw a 3-yard TD to tight end Seth DeValve with 1:03 left to provide the final margin and cap a 4-play, 50-yard drive but the game was not nearly as close as the final score indicated.
The Bad –
Picking Hogan’s Pocket – Hogan overshot a simple check down to Duke Johnson in the right flat and the ball sailed into the waiting arms of Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph who ran 82 yards up the sideline for a 16-3 lead. The interception came right after a delay of game penalty. On the very next possession, Hogan threw it deep on third-and-2 up the sideline to Johnson, but Texans linebacker Dylan Cole adjusted to the throw to come away with Hogan’s second interception of the day. Three interceptions had to have Kizer thinking, “I could’ve done that.”
Inside their opponents 30 this season the Browns have turned it over 6 times, missed 2 field goals and turned it over on downs twice.
No Hero – Those expecting Hogan to salvage a miserable offense were sadly disappointed Sunday. Hogan’s day went like this: 20 of 37 for 140 yards with a touchdown, 3 interceptions and a safety. He was sacked 3 times and had a rating of 38.1. The quarterback is the headliner of a litany of problems and deficiencies this roster possesses. Brian Hoyer remains the last QB to win his debut – at Minnesota on Sept. 22, 2013 – and Hogan is the ninth straight to lose his first start for the Browns. Since 1999, quarterbacks are 2-26 in their starting debuts.
Salt For Wound – Deshaun Watson made the Browns look foolish for passing on him in the draft Sunday, but what else is new? Watson threw 3 touchdowns and had a rating of 103.4 as he helped the Texans build a 33-3 lead. Watson completed 17 of 29 passes in the victory as another QB the Browns could have had in the draft beat them again. According to the NFL league office, Watson is the first NFL rookie quarterback in history to throw 3 or more touchdown passes in 3 consecutive games.
Penalties – Isaiah Crowell’s illegal block in the block on the opening offensive series cost the Browns a 17-yard gain from Hogan to Kasen Williams. Instead of having the ball at the Texans’ 27, the Browns got moved back and the drive stalled. After Peppers fielded and returned a punt in the second quarter, receiver Sammie Coates was flagged for an illegal block in the back forcing the drive to start at their own 14. The Browns even got flagged for holding on a successful 2-point conversion, which was set up because the Browns lined up offside on the PAT attempt, from Watson to tight end Ryan Griffin after Braxton Miller’s touchdown. They even lined up wrong on Hogan’s safety which got flagged as well as Hogan’s intentional grounding in the end zone to put Houston up 26-3.
The Browns are just plain awful, even worse than the first 2 expansion seasons, and they show very few signs of life.
Six down, 10 more to go.