BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Following Sunday’s 24-10 loss to the Ravens and a sub-par performance from rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, Hue Jackson said, “the sky is not falling.”
That was Monday.
Wednesday afternoon the head coach of the Browns struck a much different tone as he was the most animated as he’s been since taking over in Cleveland.
“I never told you we were going to be a juggernaut in the first two games,” Jackson said.
Jackson found himself on the defensive when asked about: running back Isaiah Crowell, who said he sometimes questions play calls while thinking about his contract situation “all the time,” the seldom used and non-productive run game after pledging to be a running team, does he need an offensive coordinator and then the big one – owner Jimmy Haslam’s patience.
First up was Crowell, who is frustrated by just 27 carries and 70 yards in 2 games especially because he can be a free agent next March and his next contract is dependent on opportunities and production this season.
“I don’t have a problem with anybody walking in the office and saying, ‘Coach, give me the ball,'” Jackson said. “Now, that being said, you better make the plays when you get them. There’s another responsibility that comes with that. I start handing it to you 25, 30 times, I’m looking for 160, 150 yards and a couple of long scores. That’s just how we do it.”
Through 2 weeks the Browns, who have trailed by no more than 14 points in either game, have found themselves abandoning the run game either because of penalties or loss of yardage which have forced them into more throwing situations than Jackson would like.
“I said we are going to run the football, and when we are ready to, we will,” Jackson said. “I think we are moving in that direction, and I think we will be there when the time comes.”
Crowell, Duke Johnson, who has been spending time at receiver because they’re so thin at the position, along with seventh-round pick Matthew Days have combined to carry just 34 times for 120 yards and no touchdowns in 2 games.
Wednesday afternoon Jackson explained that they do want to run the ball, but his offense just isn’t ready to.
“You have a new young quarterback. You have basically an offensive line that is new that is going to be good. We have new receivers that we insert here and there. We have a new young tight end that is playing. We have runners who are learning how to play off of the offensive line,” Jackson said. “It is time on task. That is all it is. I couldn’t play all of these guys for every quarter in the preseason. I knew there were going to be some rough spots. I don’t like the rough spots; I don’t like the turnovers; I don’t like the production on offense; I don’t like the consistency, but I knew that this was going to happen I know that we are getting there. I know the work ethic is there. I know the time on task is starting to be there and the continuity is starting to the be there. Now, you take this and hopefully you turn the corner, and that is where we need to get to.”
Jackson is now 1-17 as the head coach of the Browns, by far the worst record any Cleveland coach has ever accumulated.
But none of them have dealt with what Jackson has had to deal with when it comes to a complete roster gut by the front office and youth movement over the last 18 months. The Browns have acquired 49 new players in the last 2 years either through the draft, trade, waiver wire or free agency – and 38 of them have 2 or fewer years of NFL experience.
Then came questions about having to convince owner Jimmy Haslam, who has pledged to be patient and see this roster build through after firing 3 head coaches and GMs in 4 years, to remain on board with the plan.
“No, I don’t have to convince Jimmy,” Jackson said. “Jimmy knows. Jimmy sees. Jimmy knows as well as anybody sitting in this room where this football team is and where we need to go.”
Jackson reiterated that he’s confident that he has Haslam’s full support.
“I think Jimmy knows where our football team is right now and where we hope to get our football team to,” Jackson said. “Jimmy doesn’t look at it that way. I think Jimmy is a very patient person, understands where his team is, wants to win worse than anybody in this building and expects to win, but knowing that, hey, this is where we are and we are going to get there. We are going to get there, and we are going to get their sooner than later. I promise you that.”
With the next 3 games against the 0-2 Colts, 0-2 Bengals and 0-2 Jets, not cashing in on the opportunity to win however might test just how patient Haslam really is.