The First Sign

Oct 8, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer (7) stands off to the side of head coach Hue Jackson during the second half against the New York Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

In the staring contest that is going on between the front office and coaching staff of the Browns, Hue Jackson just blinked. And by doing so may have ended his time in Berea.

Ever since the Browns signed Hue Jackson as coach the narrative has always been about getting the rebuild right. Throughout his 1-15 season coach Jackson was often heard to say something along the lines of “we’re going to get the right, keep working hard. We’re not going to blink”.

Those sentiments have been echoed many times by both Jimmy Haslem and Sashi Brown. “we’re not going to blink”.

Well Hue Jackson just blinked.

You see, the decision to start Kevin Hogan this Sunday has painted Hue into a corner. And it was his own doing. He now has no choice but to win. And it needs to happen quick. Let me explain.

Several people smarter than me have questioned the Browns’ purpose. Questioned their direction. Is it win now or later?

Recent player movements and the way Sashi et al have put together the roster seemed to indicate a develop now win later type of deal. 16 of the starting 22 players have played less than three seasons and the team average age is the lowest in the NFL. From the outside looking in it is clear that the front office is committed to one particular course of action.

And for the first time, it appears the coaching staff is done losing, I mean developing, and has lost its nerve.

The decision to start Kevin Hogan isn’t in itself the reason. It is more that it is a public statement, without actually making one, that Hue Jackson is tired of the losing..sorry I meant developing.

After one win in 21 games Hue finally blinked, or maybe he just has something in his eye.

Five games was all it took for Hue to change his words and mind regarding Kizer. At first it was all about “we’re going to ride through it together. We’re going to work through everything that comes”. “we’re not going to blink”

Oct 8, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson (L) talks with quarterback DeShone Kizer (7) during the first half against the New York Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Well Hue, it sure seems like blinking to me. While he may not admit it, Jackson’s actions speak volumes. On Monday Jackson was asked if benching Kizer would be an admission that Kizer isn’t the guy and that all the talk of the preseason and early rounds was just that, talk. Jackson dismissed those claims and once again reiterated his support for Deshone and his belief that Kizer will be the answer.

Well, why did you bench him? It is clear to me that losing, oops I did it again, I mean developing, is not acceptable to Hue any longer. His choice to start Hogan makes that clear.

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Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating for any particular player. I am not even suggesting that this is not the right decision for the team. The question is, however, is this the right decision for now or for later? And what does it say about Hue’s commitment to the plan?

While Kizer may work through this setback and end up the greatest QB of all time it is looking unlikely. I don’t believe that getting sat down while playing for one of the worst teams in the league bodes well for your future. I may be wrong, but I doubt it. And Jackson’s decision to start Hogan has sealed his own fate.

Oct 8, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Kevin Hogan (8) runs the ball as New York Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne (21) comes in for the tackle during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

If Hogan comes in and wins there will be smiles and high fives all around I’m sure. The press will get off Hue’s back and in the short term the pressure will be released. If Kevin keeps winning then what will you do Hue? You cannot bring Deshone back in.

If everything stays the same then what happens Hue? Bring Kizer back into an even worse situation. Either way you look at it Jackson is now in a corner and the only person that can save him is Hogan.

Hue has blinked and hitched his future on the arm of Kevin Hogan. He has departed from the master plan of Sashi and done what he believes to be the best for the team, however, it may not have been the best for Hue.

Hue can no longer hide behind the veil of development. He has pushed his stack into the middle and gone all-in for the win. Maybe he gets a couple and then can manufacture some reason to bring Kizer back in, but it will all seem fake. Hue has blinked and in turn removed any faith in his words that Kizer is the guy.

Early in the season Hue claimed that if he is worth anything as a coach then turning Kizer into a great QB would be his Magnum Opus. Time will tell if time on pine helps Kizer in any way. Time will tell if Jackson is right and I am wrong. Time, time, time. Something Browns fans are sick of hearing about.

Hogan now joins a distinguished list of 20 quarterbacks the great Joe Thomas has had the honor of blocking for. If he wins a few games great. So what? The search for the holy grail continues in Berea and it only took five games.

If you want to shout at me please feel free to follow me on twitter @Cover32Browns

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