It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again – this latest version of a Cleveland Browns rebuild needs a lot of time to develop. This means the front office and coaching staff should be held in place for more than a couple seasons to ensure they’re given enough room to see their vision through.
After this past Sunday, though, it’s getting far more difficult to stay patient. The Browns took a mammoth step backwards this weekend, and yet another display of this could seriously ramp up the pressure on coach Hue Jackson and this front office.
Cleveland visited the Indianapolis Colts last weekend, somehow as road favorites. Instead of cashing in on this, getting a much-needed victory against a very bad team, the Browns embarrassed themselves. A couple late touchdowns saved the game from being a blowout. Instead, Cleveland “respectably” lost by three in a game featuring countless blunders.
The reality, again, is putting Jackson and company on the hot seat would be a bad idea. The reasoning for this remains the same today as it did during training camp.
Yes, this rebuild needs time. Yes, it’s unfair to expect a quick turnaround. Yes, Jackson is saddled with an incredibly young roster. Yes, another front office fire-sale could set this woebegone franchise back to a point of no return.
Despite all of this, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to remain patient while waiting for signs of a turnaround. While I still think this staff should remain intact no matter how this season ends, it’s tough to look past what we’ve seen so far.
Jackson and crew are 1-18. The coach’s play-calling has veered between head-scratching and terrible throughout the first three games of the year. His team has regressed for the second straight week.
Jackson blatantly abandons the run any time his team faces a two-score deficit, no matter how much time is left. He’s forcing his young, raw rookie quarterback to throw almost 50 pass attempts a game. This past Sunday, Cleveland was out of second half timeouts with over eight minutes left in the game.
Beyond this, the Browns in general continue to make the same mistakes. Undisciplined play, as seen by their ten penalties on Sunday, four of which were for offensive pass interference. Giving up big plays. Failing to get stops on third down. Dropping passes at an astounding rate.
The miscues and mismanagement continues to pile up, and it’s all occurring in a year which was supposed to be full of progress.
Again, this team is young. Nobody actually expected a playoff berth. However, the losses keep coming, and only shreds of the offseason optimism are still hanging around. With the youth on this roster comes the concern of what kind of effect constant losing is going to have. Young players are going to have a tough time trying to avoid getting discouraged and, quite frankly, there aren’t many vets in the locker room to keep them from falling down that hole.
Jackson, himself, sounds like a man in desperate need for a win. His press conferences are displays of weariness, of a man growing tired of following up questions about yet another defeat by saying things are going to get better.
Cleveland remains in the “soft” spot of its schedule, with the win-less Cincinnati Bengals coming to town this weekend. However, Cincy is a much better team on paper than the Colts squad which just shredded the Browns last week. After that, Cleveland plays the New York Jets, who somehow, despite desperately trying to fail, notched a win before Cleveland did this season.
Jackson can continue saying “we’ll get it fixed.” He can say “we will get better.” He can say “the wins are right around the corner.”
Yet, with every loss, said corner gets farther and farther away.
Once again, I’m not saying Jackson should get fired. What I am saying is he and his team are going to have start showing serious development. They have to win at some point. Nobody is going to look at a 1-15 or 2-14 season and use the word “progress.”
Jackson has spent his entire time with the Browns promising victories. He’s going to run low on time to keep doing so if they don’t start coming soon.
Casey Drottar is an independent sports writer. Subscribe to his podcast, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook