No blame game: Jackson takes burden for winless Browns
By TOM WITHERS
Nov. 13, 2017
BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Hue Jackson might want to borrow DeShone Kizer's flak jacket.
Cleveland's coach is willingly taking some big hits for his rookie quarterback.
One day after a calamitous goal-line situation at the end of the first half cost the Browns points — and maybe their first win — in a 38-24 loss to the Detroit Lions, Jackson again refused to discuss details of the sequence or lay blame on anyone but himself.
"I take responsibility for it," Jackson said. "It is on me. It is not on DeShone. It is not on the offensive unit. I coach the offensive unit. I coach the quarterback. As I said yesterday, I am not going to back off that. Totally on me. Not on him. Whatever we think he should have done or could have done stems from my teaching of him. I take full responsibility for it."
Fair enough, coach. So what did you not teach Kizer?
"I do not want to get into that," he said. "Next question."
While Jackson's gesture to protect Kizer may be noble as he fights to save his job after going 1-24 in two seasons, it doesn't explain why the Browns (0-9) botched a chance to cut into Detroit's 17-10 late in the second quarter.
With the Browns at the Detroit 2-yard line with 15 seconds left and out of timeouts, Kizer tried a sneak but was stopped well short of the goal line. The Browns rushed to run another play, but failed to line up in time — the Lions did all they could to prevent Kizer and lineman Shon Coleman from getting up — before the clock expired.
The gaffe was costly and perhaps symbolized Cleveland's winless season better than any other play.
Following the game, guard Joel Bitonio and tight end Seth DeValve both said Kizer called an audible, changing the play from whatever Jackson had called to a daring attempt to score on his own with little margin for error.
Because they're the Browns, everything went wrong.
Jackson, though, insists he is the one who should take the heat.
"I can't put our guys in that spot," he said. "I know a lot of people feel like that is the reason why we lost the game. I do not feel that at all. It was an opportunity to score more points, but it is not the reason we lost the game. ... I get it. I know everybody is fuming about it, and I am, too. I am kicking myself many times about it. Our guys responded, and we had our chances. We just have to do more.
"I have to do a better job of coaching. It is just that simple. I do not want to get into what I am going to do. None of that matters. Yesterday we made a mistake. We owned it. I owned it. Does not matter. I will get better and do better. Whatever you guys want to write or say, that is what it will be. We will get it better."
Except for the second-quarter blunder, Kizer had his most efficient game this season, completing 21 of 37 passes for 232 yards with one touchdown and a late interception.
But until the Browns win, the audible is what will be remembered. Like his coach, Kizer refused to address what went wrong.
"It is not a blame thing. It is not an audible thing," said Kizer, who has had other issues near the end zone. "It is just about being better down there. As the quarterback of this team, it is my job when we get that low in the red zone to make sure that the play ends in points. Unfortunately, with the timing situation, that drive didn't."
Kizer also displayed toughness by returning after taking a shot to the ribs in the third quarter. X-rays were negative and other than some soreness, the 21-year-old said he's fine.
On the play he got hit, Browns rookie tight end David Njoku failed to pick up cornerback Quandre Diggs, who delivered a textbook shot on the QB.
Njoku took responsibility for not protecting Kizer.
"I don't feel good about it," he said. "I kind of wanted to fight him (Diggs) on the field, but that's emotions. That's one of my close friends and teammate, and I got him hit. So I've got to make up for it next week."
NOTES: LB Jamie Collins will miss the remainder of the season with a torn knee ligament suffered on an interception return Sunday. ... Jackson said RT Shon Coleman remains in concussion protocol. ... Jackson praised LT Spencer Drango's performance. He made his second start in place of Pro Bowler Joe Thomas, who underwent season-ending triceps surgery.