As we watched on the HBO special Hard Knocks it was clear from the beginning that coach Jackson and coach Haley did not view the path to winning in the same direction. Sparks flew early and often as the show went on. We could all clearly see and feel the tension before the season even started.
Coach Hue Jackson also made a decision to go all in on quarterback Tyrod Taylor. From the first day of camp until he was pulled because of injury during the Jets game, Hue, did everything in his power to protect Tyrod and keep the”When will Baker Mayfield start?” rumors at bay.
He wouldn’t allow Mayfield to build chemistry with anyone considered a first-team player, even as Mayfield quickly progressed and rivaled the ability of Tyrod in a short time. Hue even took it one step further and started rotating the group Mayfield was working with.
Week one: The Browns took on the Steelers in a rain-filled, all-out battle to the end. Once again, Hue protected Tyrod to make sure his plan wasn’t questioned. With a tie, it looked as if, just maybe, this team was truly on a new path.
Week two: Tyrods’ inability to win week one was laid completely on the weather conditions. This week would be different, playing inside a dome against the Saints. We would all finally get to see just how great of a quarterback Tyrod really was. The defense came out on fire and shut down one of the best in the game—Drew Brees. The offense that was going to prove to everyone how great the future would be, wasn’t able to hold up its end. With the majority of Tyrod’s passes traveling less than eight yards, he just couldn’t move the ball down the field. After the loss, Hue Jackson quickly went to the podium and laid blame on kicker Zane Gonzalez for missing multiple field goals.
Week three: At home and ready to take on the Jets, we would now get to see if Hue Jackson’s master plan of going all in on Tyrod Taylor finally bear fruit. It didn’t take long before it was painfully obvious that the master plan was falling apart. Then the unthinkable happened with Tyrod. After taking so many hits in the backfield while holding too long and running for dear life, Tyrod took to a disastrous hit. He was pulled from the game and placed in the concussion protocol.
Baker Mayfield: Baker Mayfield entered the game and proved why he was the number one pick. Quickly picking apart the Jets defense and putting points on the board, Baker was able to do something Hue Jackson had not done the previous 18 games. He orchestrated a come-from-behind win.
After the game, when most thought coach Jackson would sing the praises of his young rookie quarterback, he did the opposite. He talked about how Baker played well but still had a lot of work to do. Spoke about how the offensive line didn’t help Tyrod and he would need time to decide if Baker should start week four. Coach Jackson stayed true-to-form, and made sure to take any doubt about Tyrod and his plan away.
The following day, even some of the most loyal supporters of the master plan began to question if Hue’s decision was the best for the team. Coach Jackson was faced with facts that had to be dealt with and he could no longer protect his plan.
Within a few days, coach Jackson was left with either starting the rookie quarterback or moving to 3rd backup Drew Stanton. With Tyrod still in concussion protocol, he wasn’t left with any more reason to hold Baker back. He had already proven the game wasn’t too big and he could handle the pressure.
Week 4: For the first time in years the Cleveland Browns found themselves in a position they had not seen in a very long time. Favored by some as the potential winner. Baker Mayfield would make his first start on the road against a team hungry for a win. Playing on a field that was less than suitable, Baker went on to have a really good game. Taking it to the wire and putting 42 points on the board, something Browns fans haven’t seen in a long time, they almost pulled off a key win.
Coach Hue Jackson was still in full protection mode, and ran to the podium like so many games before. He quickly laid the blame of the close game right on the turnovers Baker Mayfield made: A pass off the fingertips of Callaway that was returned for a touchdown. A fumble from a blitz that wasn’t held off. A fumbled snap from the center that hiked the ball before it was time. Then, a late-game interception trying to get into field goal range. Unlike with Tyrod Taylor, coach Jackson was not going to protect Baker Mayfield in the same way.
The Master Plan: For the last three years of coach Jackson’s tenure, the plan was to sign a veteran quarterback then draft a quarterback. It started with signing Robert Griffin and drafting Cody Kessler. Griffin was given all the first-team reps in training camp while Kessler was held back to protect him. Griffin was hurt and in goes Kessler. The next year, it was the same again as they signed Brock Osweiler and drafted DeShone Kizer. Osweiler was given all of the first-team reps to protect the rookie quarterback who wasn’t going to start. Only to have Osweiler traded away and Kizer starting. 2018 didn’t see a change in this pattern. As the Browns signed Tyrod Taylor and Hue Jackson named him the starter while the team drafted Baker Mayfield to sit and learn.
Like the two years before Tyrod was hurt and in goes Mayfield. Each time the master plan fails and coach Jackson is left with blaming everyone to protect himself and his job as head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Each year, because coach Jackson has stuck with this plan, the rookie quarterback isn’t fully prepared to take on the role.
We hear from almost every expert that chemistry is one of the most important functions of a winning team. Hue Jackson has chosen each year not to allow his rookie quarterback to build that in preseason when the stakes are not so high. Each year Hue Jackson then blames the quarterback for his plan not working.
Now we the fan base have been split into those who defend coach Jackson, and those who can no longer take it. But after so many years of this playing over and over, it’s starting to take a new form. Blaming the players. I understand why it’s happening. We’ve watched a coach with a historically bad record blame everyone else, so why not blame the players? Even Joe Thomas took this to the next level, saying that Hue Jackson couldn’t really take the blame as the Browns ownership decided to “tank” on purpose and lie to the fan base.
So here we are stuck in the middle of what should be a franchise-changing time for the Cleveland Browns. Fighting amongst ourselves on social media. Being called out by former players as we vent our frustration and concern for the team we love. It’s now “pick a side and let’s go to battle” until the last fan is standing. I leave you with these two questions: Is Hue Jackson worth the damage he has placed, and continues to place on us? Should Baker Mayfield have the weight of Hue Jackson past placed on him?
For me the answer is simple, Baker Mayfield is the future of this team. With all of the changes that have been put in place it’s time. The Browns need to move on from Hue Jackson’s failed past. It’s time you untie the fan base and move forward.
Written By: @Chadp71
Edited By: @Robzie_