Let me get this straight: Hue Jackson is supposed to be immune to review right now, despite the worst two-year run in NFL history. He's just going to maybe hire a new offensive coordinator and delegate a little more on a side of the ball where the Browns have been nothing short of inept on a weekly basis but, otherwise, nothing to see here.
And when the Browns get pummeled by the Steelers -- who will have a potential first-round bye on the line in Week 17 -- and end up at 0-16, well, that's no big deal, either. Nothing to see here. While upwards of a third of the league pursues new coaches, the Browns have their man for 2018, even if the new general manager they just hired would prefer things be different and even with all the myriad other issues popping up (like the potential top pick in the draft, UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, ). And even with an owner in place who has been known to say one thing and do another.
OK. Sure. Nothing to see here. I'll believe it when I see those season-ticket renewal notices going out and Jackson, at 0-16 and 1-31, still coaching the team. Then you'll have me convinced. Until then, I'll continue to entertain the thought that logic, reason and common sense still have a place in the Browns' organization. As bad as it is -- and it's nothing short of awful with Cleveland's lack of discipline, lack of quarterback development and lack of cogent offensive identity again undermining the team in a lopsided loss to the lowly Bears -- this is still an attractive enough job (especially with two picks in the first five or six selections in the draft). Even more so with an established football man like John Dorsey at the helm now.
For instance, someone tell me why this wouldn't be a viable alternative to continuing on with a coach that has now gone over a year without winning a game. Hear me out for a minute.
Nothing is more imperative to this franchise than finally finding a quarterback. Identifying him and incubating him and cultivating him is literally everything. There are some other pieces in place and another trove of draft picks to utilize. But after fanning on Jared Goff (could've moved up one slot to draft him) and Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson and I could go on and on, they absolutely must get this right.
You want to land Rosen, and do so without drama and tumult and potentially sparring with his agent? Want to put him around a nucleus of coaches and teachers he already knows and trusts? Want to make him feel comfortable? Why not hire his former college coach? Or at least strongly consider him. Jim Mora lost his job in large part due to Rosen being hurt much of this season, but he has known him since he was around 15, built by all accounts a strong relationship with him and in a year where there will be so much coaching change without many proven, experienced NFL coaches, Mora fits the bill. Wanna bring Rosen's college coordinator, Jedd Fisch (a former NFL coordinator), with him to run an offense he already knows? I'm guessing that could be arranged, too.
Because if anyone thinks Rosen is going to watch the Browns' film this year and look at how Jackson has kept DeShone Kizer on a human yo-yo string and think that someone with his intellect and long-term view is going to just waltz right into that web, well, you've got another thing coming. Mora might not be the sexiest name, but, well, neither was another "retread" head coach in Doug Marrone a year ago in Jacksonville. That has worked out pretty well, I would say.
And, given the import of the draft to the Browns, I would point to the success veteran coaches like Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh had in recent years in helping the personnel staff identify the top rookie talent in the league for their first few years on the job after having recruited so many of those kids firsthand, getting to know them and their families in a unique manner. If nothing else, it's worth mulling. Because even if guys like Josh McDaniels and Pat Shurmur and Jim Schwartz wouldn't entertain the thought of coaching the Browns if the job does in fact open up, finding an improvement over the current state of affairs shouldn't be difficult.
Two years ago, owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam, along with recently fired GM Sashi Brown and analytics "maven" Paul DePodesta, comprised the group entrusted with conducting that coaching search. This time, I would let Dorsey do the hiring and consider what might be best for a potential franchise quarterback and conduct as thorough of a search as possible.
Market for aging RBs not so great
Remember how much attention was given in some quarters of the media to aging running backs like Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch in the offseason? Where would they land? Oh, what they might do with their new teams! How riveting!
Only, not so much. I didn't anticipate any of them making an impact with their new teams and, frankly, didn't think even two of the three would still be on an NFL roster at this point in the season. But on Sunday, Peterson was on injured reserve after being cut quickly by the Saints and having one big game in his debut for the Cardinals. He finished with 156 carries for 529 yards (3.4 a carry) with two touchdowns. Charles was a healthy scratch for a bad Broncos team, and he's likely done for the year with 69 carries for 296 yards (4.3 per carry) and one touchdown. And Lynch, part of an Oakland offense that has greatly constricted in 2017, has been the best of the bunch, and an above-average back, with 163 caries for 695 yards (4.3 per carry) and seven touchdowns.
Makes me wonder what the market for some of these guys, if any, will be there next year, and what it means for a guy like Frank Gore.
More Week 16 notes
- Can't help but think that Sunday's loss in Cincy might end up doing in Jim Caldwell. The Lions were sloppy and succumbed to penalties and blew a glorious chance to improve their playoff odds. And failing to even try to challenge what might have been a season-saving catch from Golden Tate on a third-and-forever jump ball could end up being the lasting imagine of this Lions season. Instead of facing a beaten Packers team next week with everything on the line, now the Lions are done, and young GM Bob Quinn, who inherited this head coach, has to be itching to make a move. I've been hearing for weeks that it would take ownership intervention for a new coach not be considered, and with Matthew Stafford in his prime this is a job that other coaches rate very highly. Two former New England coaches who Quinn knows from his time there -- McDaniels and Texans coach Bill O'Brien (who would be a lame duck in 2018 without a lucrative extension) -- would certainly fit the bill ...
- The Falcons are crazy if they don't bend over backward to lure Gary Kubiak there next season. That passing game never got going despite having the same weapons as a year ago, when Atlanta was the NFL's best. Kubiak is one of Kyle Shanahan's mentors and the Falcons are trying, and failing, to run Shanahan's offense without him. Baltimore should move heaven and earth to try to bring him back as well. … Speaking of hot coordinators, Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks is getting plenty of attention as a head-coaching candidate, but linebackers coach Al Holcomb has done a tremendous job and, as a free agent at season's end, will end up on the wish lists of many potential head coaches to be their defensive coordinator elsewhere. … The Rams' magical season is going to draw lots of eyes to their staff as well, and rightfully so. Brad Holmes, their director of college scouting, is worthy of accolades and could become a fast riser, too, as teams shuffle their front offices throughout the offseason …
- The Titans job will be super attractive to top candidates, even with Marcus Mariota taking a leap backward this season and his health already becoming an issue. This team is likely headed to 8-8 after an 8-4 start, the passing game never evolved, the run game is hardly transcendent and seeing Mariota take a sack on fourth-and-probably-the-season can't sit well with the brass there. It has been an open subject of debate in league circles whether ownership would truly step up to land a big fish. Perhaps we'll find out in recent weeks. The Titans' swoon was hardly surprising to me, and an inspired hire is in order. … Josh Gordon shocked a lot of people with how physical and effective he was in his debut, but all the years of lost time seem to have taken a toll. He has been unable to sustain that initial burst of adrenaline that came from his return from a long suspension, and his production has dipped each week, from four catches for 85 yards to 3-39 to 5-47 to 2-19 on Sunday. With another long offseason ahead I would be trying to shop him. Too much baggage there and too much uncertainty. … So much for that one-week reprieve where Brock Osweiler looked like an NFL starting quarterback. Sunday was awful, with turnovers coming in bunches and Osweiler holding the ball too long and taking awkward sacks. It's a backup's life for him for the rest of his career. Nothing points to the dearth of quality QBing in this league like the fact that "Brock is Back!" seemed to be like kinda, sorta a thing for some last week. ... Oh yeah, and let's slow the Blake Bortles hype train. Sunday was a regression that was always going to come. We'll find out what steps Bortles has truly made in the postseason.