Two more games left in the 2017 season for the Cleveland Browns which means two more chances to win a game to avoid football purgatory and the imperfect mark of 0-16.
Head coach Hue Jackson knows what’s lying ahead of him in the final two weeks as he tries to state a case to remain as the leader of the football organization beyond New Year’s Eve.
He’s not making a strong case for himself with a 1-29 mark over two seasons as well as throwing his players under the bus including quarterback DeShone Kizer and running back Isaiah Crowell during the last several days as questions keep rising about his handling of Kizer and his inability to run the football with a rushing offense that’s averaging 4.6 yards per carry (4th in NFL) but is 25th in the league in attempts.
If he hasn’t lost the locker room that’s been behind him with all the losing, anymore bashing of the roster will have them soon turning their back on Jackson.
Hue Jackson’s last two wins as a head coach have come on Christmas Eve in Oakland during the 2011 season as well as his lone victory as Browns head coach thanks to Jamie Meder’s blocked field goal against the San Diego Chargers last season.
They will head to Chicago to play the 4-10 Bears who are also heading towards another change in the organization. John Fox is 13-33 in his three seasons with the Bears and rumors are swirling that he will be relieved of his duties at the end of the season.
He handled rookie quarterback and Northeast Ohio native Mitchell Trubisky the right way by bringing him in slowly behind veteran Mike Glennon but Fox along with offensive coordinator and former Browns QB coach Dowell Loggians have not maximized Trubisky’s talent to help the Bears win more games.
Trubisky has been slowly getting better as the season has progressed but he will be better off with an offensive minded head coach much like Jared Goff has evolved under Rams head coach Sean McVay as well as adding some reliable and talented receivers to throw to. I expect the Bears to focus on that this offseason.
Team Stats (League Rank)
Yards Per Game: CLE-308.1 ypg (26th), CHI-295.7 ypg (30th)
Passing: CLE-198.4 ypg (26th), CHI-177.1 ypg (31st)
Rushing: CLE-109.7 ypg (17th), CHI-118.6 ypg (11th)
Scoring: CLE-14.8 ppg (32nd), CHI-16.7 ppg (28th)
Yards Per Game: CLE-331.7 ypg (16th), CHI-323.2 ypg (8th)
Passing: CLE-235.6 ypg (21st), CHI-215.6 ypg (10th)
Rushing: CLE-96.1 ypg (7th), CHI-107.6 ypg (11th)
Scoring: CLE-25.9 ppg (30th), CHI-21 ppg (T-12th)
Questionable: CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun (knee), CB Jamar Taylor (foot), WR Matt Hazel (hamstring)
Doubtful: OL Josh Sitton (ankle)
Questionable: OL Tom Compton (concussion), DB Chris Prosinski (concussion), TE Adam Shaheen (chest)
Matchup to Watch
Bears running game Vs. Browns run defense
One of the few positives of a winless Browns team has been the run defense. They currently rank 7th in the NFL giving up 96 yards per game.
It’s the highest ranking run defense since the team’s return in 1999 and also the highest since 1992 when they were also ranked 7th against the run.
Ryan McCrystal of Bleacher Report tweeted out the historical context of just how good the Browns run defense has been
It’s a real shame that this team hasn’t won more games but that’s on the poor job out of the pass defense as well as the stagnant offense.
Perhaps what could be the biggest test for that run defense will come on Christmas Eve against the duo nicknamed “Thunder and Lightning” for the Bears, Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen.
Howard is backing up his strong rookie season from a year ago with another 1,000 yard season which currently ranks 4th in the NFL with 1,069 rushing yards.
Cohen was a 4th round pick in this past April’s NFL Draft out of North Carolina A&T and has been a nightmare for defenses all season whether it’s running, receiving, returning or even passing. He has 1,428 all purpose yards and four total touchdowns. Cohen also attempted one pass that connected for a 21 yard touchdown against Baltimore in Week 6.
They both have made life easier for Trubisky offensively and I’m sure he will lean on them once again when facing Gregg Williams’ defense. Cleveland will need to stop the “Thunder and Lightning” if they want to break this long winless drought on Sunday.
Could lightning strike three times for Hue Jackson on Christmas Eve?
Maybe, but i’m doubting it at this point.
The Bears while they’re 4-10 are 3-0 against the AFC North this season and have a very underrated defense that gives hope for the future. Not to mention having Trubisky, Howard and Cohen as the foundation for the offensive side.
The Browns are 0-14, their coach is burying the roster any chance he can to make people think he hasn’t been the problem behind the record when in reality he’s as much to blame as former Executive VP Sashi Brown was for the product on the field.
DeShone Kizer looks shell shocked on the field as well as facing the media following games and during the week. His confidence is broken according to Duke Johnson and Jackson’s comments don’t make anything better.
I think it’ll be a close game due to the run defense limiting Howard and Cohen but Trubisky steps up and makes his hometown pay for passing on him in the draft.