Hue Jackson (Browns at Lions)
When teams go through losing streaks, they’ll sometimes make certain calls that they normally wouldn’t make just to snap the streak. Well no team is more desperate for a win than the Cleveland Browns, who haven’t won since December 24th, 2016.
It takes something special to break a losing streak as long as the Browns’, but it also takes just one bad call to keep it going. Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson managed to make three questionable decisions, one of them critical, that let the Browns best chance at a victory slip away.
It was an optimistic start for the Browns as they jumped out to an early 10-0 lead. With 3:49 remaining in the first quarter, and the Browns up 10-3 at their own 44-yard line facing a 4th & 1, Jackson unwisely chose to put his one TD lead at risk by going for the first down. Failure would have given the Lions a short field and an excellent opportunity to tie the game – a momentum changer that shouldn’t be delivered to any home team. The Browns converted, but that doesn’t make a poor decision a good decision. Jackson’s second questionable call came in two instances of bad clock management. With 2:45 remaining in the first quarter on a 2nd and 10, Jackson called a timeout. He burned another one with 4:11 remaining in the second quarter. Both of these could’ve been used on the final drive of the half.
Jackson’s most costly decision and this week’s Situational Call, came on that final drive of the first half. Down 17-10, with 15 seconds left, no timeouts, and at the Detroit 2-yard line, Cleveland attempted a QB sneak. The attempt failed and the Browns weren’t able to run another play to get some points on the board before the half ended. They had just wasted a 10 play 73-yard drive, and an opportunity to receive the second half kickoff with some momentum.
In this situation, Hue Jackson had several options. He could’ve run a pass play that would’ve ended in a touchdown or a stopped clock. He could’ve also been more conservative and spike the ball to simply kick a field goal and make it 17-13. Instead, Jackson probably chose the worst option in running it straight up the middle, giving virtually no chance at a second play. His two wasted timeouts earlier in the half also affected this situation because if he had those two timeouts, his entire playbook would’ve been open — including the QB sneak.
QB DeShone Kizer did call an audible, but the head coach is still responsible for the consequences. Additionally, it’s also the head coach that gives the latitude to allow his QB to call an audible, which was questionable in this case because Kizer’s inexperience.
When a team hasn’t won in almost a calendar year and an opportunity to end that presents itself, a coach has to take advantage but can’t be too aggressive. In Hue Jackson’s case, he had three chances to finally guide his team to a long-awaited victory. Unfortunately, he blew those chances and the last one got him for good.