Q: If the Browns lose the next four games heading into the bye week (it’s a tough schedule), will coach Hue Jackson be fired?
A: No beating around the bush today.
The question is relevant. The Browns would have a five-game losing streak in your scenario, with losses to the Chargers, Buccaneers, Steelers, Chiefs and Falcons, and be 2-7-1. That would drop Jackson’s record with the Browns to 3-38-1. While I certainly think the speculation would be rampant and the Haslams would consider making a change, I believe they’ll stick with Jackson throughout the season.
Having said that, I’m convinced a five-game skid heading into the bye would seal Jackson’s fate beyond this season. General manager John Dorsey would have all the evidence necessary to make the argument to the Haslams that they can do better than Jackson. They could finish the year with Jackson but be ready to make a change right after the finale.
Q: Regarding the Carlos Hyde trade … Do you believe the front office felt that trading Hyde was the only way Nick Chubb was going to see the field? And did this reflect a lack of confidence in coordinator Todd Haley’s ability to handle the crowded backfield? Were the coaches consulted before the trade?
A: I think that’s one of the most likely scenarios behind the trade. The coaches have control over who plays and how much, so shipping Hyde to Jacksonville will force Haley to play Chubb and Duke Johnson more, which could be the desire of GM John Dorsey. In regard to your second question, it doesn’t necessarily signal a lack of confidence, but rather an understanding that it’s difficult for any play caller to use three running backs.
I’m sure the coaches were informed of the deal while it was in the works, but that doesn’t mean their approval was sought. Another possibility is everyone was under the same mindset that Hyde was useful but Chubb and Johnson would continue to be neglected with him in the fold, so why not pick up a draft pick by dealing Hyde.
Q: Who gets the majority of the carries Sunday, Duke Johnson or Nick Chubb?
A: Johnson’s listed as the starter (Chubb actually got the start), but I expect Chubb to get the majority of the carries.
Q: Do you think Duke Johnson sees more playing time now? Or does his role stay the same?
A: He better get more playing time, because I’m sure that’s one of the motivations behind the trade of Carlos Hyde.
I expect Johnson to assume the role he held last year when Isaiah Crowell was here. Johnson will be the third-down back and rotate in as the featured back. He should get between 10 and 15 touches a game.
Q: Shouldn’t the Browns’ game plan against the Chargers have featured more running, as well as liberal usages of Duke Johnson at receiver and Seth DeValve, so either he or David Njoku could deploy wide, as well? Lots of short, quick routes to get the ball out of Baker Mayfield’s hands.
Admittedly, Derrick Willies’ loss to injury came late in the week and practices were spent, but making adjustments are what coordinators should excel at.
— Mark Leonard
A: One of my main beefs about the 38-14 loss to the Chargers last week was the game plan. I didn’t understand using three-wide receiver sets for the majority of the game when the Browns had only three healthy receivers. I would’ve gone with many more two-tight end personnel packages.
I asked Hue Jackson about it, and he said the coaches determined three receivers was the best way to attack the Chargers. I don’t doubt him, but believe the plan still needed to be amended after the injuries to receivers Willies and Rod Streater. Perhaps adjusting the game plan on Saturday or Sunday is just way more difficult than we think.
Q: When did a face mask penalty become a fine?
A: The question comes after free safety Damarious Randall and defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah were fined $10,026 apiece after face masks against the Chargers. The league reviews all 15-yard penalties and makes its decisions. The league ruled that the unnecessary roughness of these plays deserved further penalty in the form of fines.
Q: Scott, what ever happened with Paul DePodesta, is he even still with the team? And if he is, does his info really matter to this regime?
A: He is still with the team. I saw him last week in the press box. Why would DePodesta leave a high-paying gig as chief strategy officer, especially when he gets to live in San Diego?
As for your second question, I believe GM John Dorsey and the personnel department listen to all the analytics and processes information provided by DePodesta and his staff, they just don’t give it nearly the same weight as the previous regime did. DePodesta has a role and value, but it’s certainly been diminished since Sashi Brown was fired as head of football operations.