Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Browns coach defends sack target quarterback
Don’t blame Ty for the tie.
Browns coach Hue Jackson defended starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor on Monday as Cleveland’s players, coaches and fans digested how a season opener that could have ended with the team’s first win since 2016 turned into a painful 21-21 draw against the Pittsburgh Steelers — the NFL’s first Week 1 tie in 47 years.
Of course, because this is Cleveland, where quarterback criticism is passed down through generations, much of the postgame blame was directed at Taylor, who completed just 15 of 40 passes, got sacked seven times and missed a few open receivers in his first start for the Browns.
But despite Taylor’s struggles, Jackson crushed any speculation he’s ready to turn his offense over to rookie Baker Mayfield anytime soon.
“He is the quarterback,” Jackson said of Taylor.
Jackson stiffened when he was asked what kind of leash he intends to have on Taylor, who was acquired in March from Buffalo and will start until the Browns feel the No. 1 overall pick Mayfield is ready.
“Leash?” Jackson said. “We are trying to win. His job is to get the offense to play the best that it can play, but it takes more than just him. I know the sentiment I am getting here is that it is him. It is not.
“It is the offensive unit as a whole. Got to play better. Whether that is newness or whatever it is, I do not want to get caught up in all of that.”
Taylor had moments of indecisiveness Sunday, but that may have had as much to do with Pittsburgh’s pass rush and an offense with several new faces, including rookie left tackle Desmond Harrison.
But while supporting his QB, Jackson acknowledged that Taylor underthrew receiver Josh Gordon on a potential big play and he needs to be more accurate.
“Improve, complete the ball,” Jackson said when asked what Taylor needs to do for the Browns to win on Sunday at New Orleans.
“Complete the ball. Complete the ball. I mean we have got to play better offensively, it is not just him. We have got to play better around him. He has to play better. We have to play better as an offensive unit.
“We did not play very well yesterday, let’s just be honest. We need to play better.”
It’s almost inconceivable the Browns didn’t win.
Coming off a 0-16 season, they became the first team not to win with a plus-5 turnover differential or better since Arizona was beaten at Atlanta in 2012. And, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, teams with a plus-5 turnover differential or better are 132-4-1 since 1999.
The beleaguered Browns have two of those losses and now the tie.
For now, Taylor has the team’s unwavering support. But it will be interesting to see if that commitment can withstand another subpar performance or two.
One of the knocks on Taylor in Buffalo was that he often missed throws he should have completed, and that he was afraid to attempt passes over the middle.