Oct 30, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins (16) and quarterback Josh McCown (13) celebrate a first quarter touchdown against the New York Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
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The Cleveland Browns found another way to lose on Sunday, falling to 0-8 in a 31-28 loss to the New York Jets.
The Cleveland Browns are now 0-8. Let that sink in.
All the preseason excitement surrounding Hue Jackson and this team has been sucked away, leaving fans questioning what they are doing with their Sunday afternoons.
The latest debacle is the 31-28 loss to the New York Jets, a game in which the Browns were leading at halftime by the score of 20-7. It may have given some fans hope, but experienced Browns fans were wary of the lead, waiting for the worst.
And while the Indians and Cavaliers have broken the cycle of failure, the Browns are still the same.
Josh McCown returned and was supposed to help get this offense back on track, but he had two costly interceptions that took away any chance of a late-game comeback.
The defense had itself another rough outing, allowing 393 total yards and 31 points, continuing the streak of allowing at least 25 points in every game this season.
Fans will want to blame Hue Jackson for all this, and as the season progresses, this becomes much easier to do. This roster is not built to be a contender, but there comes a point when the coaching has to be better if the team is expected to win.
It is way too early for anyone to call for Jackson’s job, but he needs to be much better over the final eight weeks of the season to give the team some momentum heading into 2017.
Let’s take a look at some takeaways from another frustrating Browns loss.
Oct 30, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Jets outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin (55) tries to sack Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown (13) during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Jets won 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Josh McCown is in no way this team’s savior.
He opened the season as Robert Griffin III’s backup, only to be the starter in Week 2 after Griffin’s injury. McCown went down with an injury of his own, keeping him out until Sunday’s game against the Jets.
He has only won one game with the Browns since joining the team in 2015, but he provides some stability to the offense when he is in the game. The problem is that McCown has been a career backup for a reason.
The veteran finished Sunday’s game with 341 passing yards and two touchdowns, but he also had two interceptions. He often tries to make the big play when it is just not there, making costly mistakes when this team cannot afford to make any.
He is a great person to have on the team to hold down the quarterback position when it is in a state of constant transition, but he is in no way someone who could lead this Browns team to the playoffs.
That is not entirely his fault, given the lack of talent around him, but fans should not expect too much when he takes the field. He is in there because of injuries to others, and needs a strong performance from the defense if he is going to pick up a victory. And once again, that was not the case for the Browns on Sunday.
Oct 30, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) stiff arms Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden (23) during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Jets won 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
The Browns defense was looking great heading into halftime.
The Jets had only managed to put seven points on the board and had punted the ball five times. Ryan Fitzpatrick looked like he may lose his job again. Then the second half began.
The Jets put up 24 points in the second half, finishing the game with a total of 393 yards, including 171 on the ground.
The most notable thing from the defense was the fact they were able to force zero turnovers against a quarterback with a noted interception problem. Joe Haden had another forgettable performance, drawing more questions of his value to this rebuilding team.
It is not secret that this defensive unit is young and inexperienced. But there has to be adjustments made from week to week after continually being unable to keep teams out of the end zone. The failure to keep opponents under 25 points at least once this season is hard to fathom, and begins to bring attention to Ray Horton’s job security.
This is not to say that Horton should be the scapegoat for the past eight weeks of poor defensive performances, but coordinators are often the fall guys in these situations. This team is young, but better schemes have to be drawn up to prevent these second-half collapses. If this continues, the hopes of winning a single game in 2016 will continue to dwindle with each worsening performance.
Oct 30, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (29) dives for a touchdown during the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
The Browns have been bad since 1999, but 2016 has provided fans with a new low.
The Browns are now 0-8, which is the first time that has been achieved since returning to the shores of Lake Erie, and is the first time they have this record since 1975.
Even in past seasons when the playoffs were impossible, the team still found ways to pick up early wins, even if it was only one or two.
Obviously, that is not the case this year. The offseason leading up the actual season seemed to be a much more exciting time, when the improbable still seemed somewhat possible.
The team now has eight more chances to pick up a win with a tough schedule ahead. The only good news is that there are five more home games. There may not be many people in the stands, but the home atmosphere should help this young roster.
No team wants to finish 0-16, but in the long run it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. It is painful for fans to watch, but a top pick in the draft could do more good than one or two wins. Even then, one or two wins may be enough to still finish with the worst record in the league.