My angry game of the week… The Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.
If I were Cleveland Browns ownership, or general management, or a fan in general... I would be irate at what I saw in Week 2. I have said a million times that Hue Jackson is going to corrupt whatever they're trying to build in Cleveland, and he can't help but make me look like a genius every other week.
Here's the scene in case you missed it because, apparently, I'm the only person that watched this game in the media. I've not heard a peep about my following note (I bet Browns diehards are lighting up message boards with it, though). I shouldn't expect the media to promote what I'm going to say because it would be another fake football news idol torn down… and we can't have that. So, of course, they're not going to even broach the subject.
As Cleveland was getting smacked around early in thsi game, per usual, an odd thing happened midway into the 2nd-quarter: an unusual, sudden change at quarterback. Out of nowhere, Kevin Hogan (5-11 for 118 yards, 1 TD/1 INT) was starting the series at quarterback. As fast as it took to digest the change, Hogan poured jet fuel into the offense and waltzed the team right down for a touchdown, cutting the 14-0 deficit in half. A 'spring' was back in everyone's step on the Browns offense. You could tell in an instant, even if you aren't a deep football follower, that “the Hogan guy is better than the Kizer guy.” You'd have to be an idiot to think otherwise.
Cue the idiot…
Kizer had to leave the game all of a sudden because of migraines. You'd think the announcer's dog got shot based on the news. Whatever could the Browns do without the illustrious DeShone Kizer? Answer: March right down the field and score a touchdown against one of the top defenses in the NFL, one that had been shutting the Browns down at every turn to that point…a Browns offense suddenly charging forward with big passes and an upbeat style of play.
I couldn't believe it. I know Kevin Hogan is not that bad, but he looked like Philip Rivers (who he reminds me of when throwing) had just joined the team. He was flinging the ball all over the place with nice crisp passes on the money. He's also got some of the best wheels among quarterbacks in the entire NFL. The game changed upon his arrival into it. The momentum shifted. The Cleveland Browns looked like a competent offense for the first time in two seasons under Hue Jackson. So what does Hue do, you ask? As soon as Kizer can get back on the field he takes the post-migraine nightmare and throws him into the huddle…like a giant bucket of cold water on a campfire. Not so shockingly, the Browns never scored again as Kizer only delivered more of his three interceptions in his limited time of play. The final score was 24–10 Baltimore. The score with Kevin Hogan at quarterback was 10–7 Cleveland. With Kizer, it was 17–0 Baltimore.
How stupid do you have to be to take a quarterback who has obviously got something—even if it's just a temporary moment, he's breathing life into your disastrous offense—how do you take him out and put in a guy that's just left the game for a long stretch coming off a migraine? I could see if Cleveland was unable to move the ball and you had no hope of winning with Hogan so you had to force the starter back into the game. But the opposite of all of that was true. Kizer was a disaster. Hogan immediately changed everything. Kizer came back in and went right back to being a disaster. How stupid can Hue Jackson be? I think there is no answer… it's like defining 'infinity' or asking who created God.
I was perplexed when I saw it happen live on Sunday, but there were a lot of things going on at the same time so I couldn't get righteously indignant. Now that I've had time to sit and re-watch this in context... I am furious. Kevin Hogan is being robbed of a career opportunity because Hue Jackson is a raging moron. I don't say that as a too-passionate football fan at the end of the bar. I say that as a guy who's been studying this deeply for a decade. This is one of the dumbest things I've ever seen in the NFL, and I've seen incredibly dumb things happen almost every day. At a minimum, the guy has to leave with a migraine and he's not doing well anyway… why would you force him back into the game? Unless it's Tom Brady… you don't do that.
You do if you're Hue Jackson, and that's why he should be fired right now. He probably won't be. He probably won't be at the end of the year when they have a marvelous three-win season. THEY'll all talk about some such nonsense about changing the culture and how great an offensive mind Hue is. He's the worst. He is single-handedly ruining the entire Browns franchise and they don't even realize it.
The Ravens only had to play this game like they did their opener with Cincinnati: Just sit back and play it safe and let the opponent punch themselves in the face until they knock themselves out. The Ravens weren't ready for the Kevin Hogan lightning storm that hit them, and they were reeling a little. But never fear, Hue Jackson is here to make sure he takes away the thing that was working and replace it with a post-migraine headache.
My wife battles migraines. When she's had one and just come out of it... I know she's ready to jump back into NFL play...cold off the bench, no questions asked! Actually, not true…she still looks like death warmed over. Kizer must have miraculous recuperating powers.
No one knows whether the Ravens are any good because they played two of the worst teams/coaches in the NFL in back-to-back weeks, holding the combined teams to 1 TD/8 INTs. There's no way to tell if it's for real. And this week they face Blake Bortles! Is John Harbaugh sleeping with the schedule maker?
The Browns could be so much better... If it were not for Hue Jackson, I'd say they'd have a chance to be a fringe playoff team. But instead the Browns will be ridden into the ground by the guy who swore to every man woman and child and his bosses to take his word for it, “Cody Kessler is the next NFL star.”
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- It's been a slow week for fantasy waiver options so it's not totally shocking that one of the players I have been asked about the most is Rashard Higgins (7-95-0/11). When you're trolling for Browns wide receivers just off the practice squad... it's probably not going so well on your fantasy roster. I get it. He's a fresh name and jumped out this week with 11 targets. It's legit to wonder what's going to happen.
Higgins is a solid WR… good hands, underwhelming athletically. He's a nice hand to have, I guess. I'd assert this: If Corey Coleman can hardly matter with this offense/QB… how is a far inferior Higgins going to matter? I would not waste any energy on him.
Next week he'll have 3 catches on 7 targets and all will be forgotten.
-- The player that jumped out at me in this game was Ben Watson (8-91-0/8). He looked great in his first game since joining the Ravens last season. He looks like he hasn’t missed a beat.
You've seen how Joe Flacco leaned on Dennis Pitta last season… Watson is more athletic than post-hip injury Pitta. I buy Watson as a sudden potential TE1 in PPR given the dire options at tight end in fantasy.
Jeremy Maclin is getting banged up and Breshad Perriman is about to disappear from the league. Flacco needs something, and Watson is a nice security blanket. However, these two were connecting for some big catch and run plays… it was quite impressive. Looks better than Jimmy Graham. I've dropped Austin Seferian-Jenkins in spots to roll the dice on a more secure thing in Watson. The ASJ out of shape news, if true… I'm done forever with ASJ if it's true.
-- I want nothing to do with this Ravens backfield when Terrance West-Javorius Allen-Alex Collins are all healthy/active. The Ravens are becoming like the Eagles with hot hand work.
If West is out this week… don’t be shocked if Collins looks like the new lead back with a decent game versus JAX.
FYI, Michael Campanaro lined up in the backfield like a Danny Woodhead a few times… and the Ravens didn’t throw a pass to him… for now two seasons and counting.
-- Browns IDP DB Derrick Kindred is wonderful! Love that guy. 7 tackles and THREE TFLs from the young safety. I just had to say it yet again!!
Snap Counts of Interest...
50 = Ben Watson (74%)
42 = Nick Boyle (blocking TE)
28 = Maxx WIlliams (bist TE)
42 = Javorius Allen
15 = Terrance West
08 = Campanaro
58 = Matt Judon (82%)
54 = Rashard Higgins
38 = Corey Coleman (injured)
32 = Ricardo Louis
26 = Sammie Coates
34 = Njoku
31 = DeValve
52 = Kizer
19 = Hogan