HUE JACKSON IS DOING IT THE RIGHT WAY
If you’re a Browns fan – and I assume you are if you’re on this website – then you have to be glad that Hue Jackson is the team’s head coach.
When Jackson was hired 1½ years ago, he was charged with, first and foremost, winning, of course. Every coaching hire in any sport at any level gets that directive.
But in football, to win, you absolutely have to have a big-time quarterback. The lack of one is why the Browns have struggled throughout the expansion era.
So while Jackson is trying to rebuild the team at the other positions, he knows that the bigger issue is finding someone to play the most important position in team sports, quarterback. And he’s the quarterback expert – the quarterback whisperer. That’s why he was hired.
Whatever the case, Jackson’s job security depends on getting it exactly right – and the sooner, the better.
The Browns are at a pivotal point in that process. They’re trying to figure out if they want to keep as their starter Brock Osweiler, who was ineffective in Thursday night’s 20-14 comeback victory over the New Orleans Saints in the preseason opener, or make the move now to rookie DeShone Kizer, who played the entire second half against backups and did extremely well, including throwing the winning touchdown pass with just under two minutes remaining. Kizer’s performance turned a dull game into a thriller.
What Kizer did is the talk of the town right now, and will continue to be until the Browns play again against the Giants in New York on Aug. 21 on national TV on Monday Night Football.
At some point this season the Browns will turn the job over to Kizer, a second-round pick in the NFL Draft, and give him considerable time – a lot of games – to show what he can do. Is it that time yet?
Before you answer, remember that Kizer is only a rookie while Osweiler has won games in the NFL and was someone who the Denver Broncos’ John Elway – who knows a thing or two about quarterbacks – wanted to re-sign two offseasons ago. His lousy play against the Saints – his rust — stems in part on the fact he had not practiced very much with the No. 1 offense in training camp.
Indeed, it’s a tough decision, but it’s the kind of one that Jackson was brought on board to make.
Will he get it right? I have always believed that he will, but it remains to be seen. At least he’s going about it the right way, which, again, if you’re a Browns fan, has to give you some – or a lot of – confidence.
And with what he said Friday in a conference call with the Cleveland media, especially with his answers to two questions, that confidence should have been bolstered.
Jackson was asked about his concerns on simply naming Kizer the starter for the game against the Giants, given the other also browns quarterbacks, including Cody Kessler as well as Osweiler, haven’t “seized the opportunity.”
“I just think that it is too soon,” the coach said. “I don’t feel very comfortable, and that is why I haven’t made that decision. I think there is a process to all of this. I think we are just in the beginning phases of it for him.
“You want to do what is best for your team and for your players. It is not just because people see a bomb that is thrown down the field for 45 yards. There is more to playing quarterback than just that. We are not there yet. We are going to keep working at this thing, and we are going to continue to coach all of these guys to get better.
“When it is the right time to make the decision that we feel is right to say, ‘This is the quarterback of the Cleveland Browns for 2017,’ then we will make that decision.”
Jackson was also asked if members of the front office, in addition to Executive Vice President of Football Operations Sashi Brown, are asking him who the starting quarterback is going to be.
“Besides you guys Sashi and the fans?” he said with a laugh. “I think everybody is asking me that question about our quarterback and where we are.
“I would say, and I have said the same thing to them, we have very high-level conversations about where we are and they trust my opinion and I trust what they have to say, too. But at the same time, it is the making of the quarterback, and I think we all know that. It is the raising of a quarterback. That takes time.
“I don’t think you do things out of a knee-jerk reaction. You just don’t make decisions to make them. You kind of let things play themselves out, and they will. If a guy is good enough and deserving of an opportunity, trust me, we are not in a position to where we wouldn’t give the best player an opportunity.
“We will continue to work through this and when we think the time is right, whenever that is, then we will make that decision.”
Two tough questions, two great answers.
It doesn’t get any better than that.