Ed Puskas: Firing Sashi was a half measure
There is a scene in “Breaking Bad” when cop-turned-enforcer Mike Ehrmentraut tells would-be drug kingpin Walter White a sad tale about the perils of not completely solving problems.
“Moral of the story is I chose a half measure when I should have gone all the way,” Mike says.
“I’ll never make that mistake again. No more half measures, Walter.”
It might be time Jimmy Haslam got the same pep talk from Mike, because firing Sashi Brown and keeping head coach Hue Jackson feels like a half measure someone will live to regret.
Brown, the Harvard-educated face of the Browns’ most recent reboot, paid the price for the worst stretch of results in NFL history when he was fired last week.
Brown gutted the team of most of its veteran players before the 2016 season, which was expected to be rough. But after enduring a 1-15 season highlighted only by a Christmas Eve miracle against the San Diego Chargers, the expectations were different entering 2017.
No one was seriously thinking playoffs or even .500, but three or four wins in year two of the analytics age did not seem unreasonable.
It turned out to be just that and more. But unlike last season, the Browns didn’t just lose in a vacuum. Their incompetence was contrasted against the sudden stardom of Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson, quarterbacks the Browns deemed unworthy.
The Browns eventually drafted DeShone Kizer, a Notre Dame product Irish Brian Kelly warned was unfinished. He turned out to be more right than wrong as Kizer has had more than his share of growing pains as a rookie starter.
Kizer might have been better served if the Browns had kept Josh McCown and let the kid learn by watching. Analytics suggested otherwise and Haslam eventually lost his patience with Brown’s mistakes.
But Jackson — soon to be 1-31 as the Browns head coach — gets a pass.
Why? Jackson was supposed to the QB whisperer, but the Browns got nothing out of Robert Griffin III last season and second-year QB Cody Kessler has regressed.
His handling of Kizer hasn’t inspired confidence — mine nor the QB’s — and has probably hindered his development.
Jackson’s clock management skills are questionable (who needs timeouts?) and his challenges often fail.
I’ve wavered on this, because I liked the hire when it happened. The Browns finally had a coach who’d done it before.
But Sunday’s loss convinced me Haslam didn’t go far enough last week.
The Browns might have beaten the Packers had they not gone to a soft zone in the third quarter. Jackson should have recognized the mistake and corrected it.
And the third-and-2 call in overtime — ignoring 121-yard rusher Isaiah Crowell in favor of a pass resulting in Kizer doing his best Brandon Weeden — was the kind of critical error that has epitomized Jackson’s two seasons.
If Mike Erhmentraut can’t give Haslam the “half measures” speech, maybe new GM John Dorsey can.
Write Vindicator Sports Editor Ed Puskas at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter, @EdPuskas_Vindy.