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Hue Jackson on the Browns’ QB situation, who impressed on defense, and more

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Notes from Cleveland’s head coach during his Friday conference call.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, head coach Hue Jackson held a conference call with reporters after having had a chance to review some of the film from the Cleveland Browns’ 20-14 preseason win over the New Orleans Saints. Here is a recap of the key takeaways:

Hue Jackson’s Offensive Notes

  • No decision has been made on the team’s quarterback situation heading into the Giants game, which the team will have plenty of time to prepare for. Jackson wasn’t prepared yet to overreact in a good way toward DeShone Kizer or a bad way toward Brock Osweiler. A reporter asked if wide receivers played a part in Osweiler now faring so well:

“I think it is a couple [of things]. Like you said, I think it goes both ways. I think there are throws he could have made. I think he will be the first to tell you that. I think there are some where our receivers could have gotten open a little bit better. It is a combination of them both. It is not just one area, but it is a unit issue as an offensive football team. We had some chances. We didn’t take advantage of them, and we have to continue to do those better.

  • One of the guys who did not help Osweiler was OT Cameron Erving, and Jackson tried his best to not bury the third-year lineman’s confidence any further than it already is. And I get what Jackson is trying to say here -- if you looked at Erving’s plays all in isolation, you could place some of the blame on other players or the unit as a whole. But the fact remains that Erving was a common denominator in way too many of the negative plays, as has often been the case in his NFL career.

“I think there were a couple plays that Cam wishes he had back, but when I watched the tape, I didn’t see… I was expecting the same thing that you guys saw, but when I watched the tape, it wasn’t as bad as I think we all thought. Things are never as bad as you think they are, and they are never as good as you think they are. I thought he did some really good things. There were a couple times where he has to replace his hand and put his hand in a better spot, but he battled. Early in the game, there were some plays that he missed, but he did some good things last night, as well.”

  • Let’s get back to QB DeShone Kizer, though, who Jackson says took a step forward:

“DeShone did some really good things, and there are some things we have to get cleaned up with him real quickly. Did he take a step? Yes, he did. Obviously, he did. Anytime you can win the game, make some of the plays he did, which was exciting for our team, there were some positives from that. We will continue to take those positives and work through those, but also work through the negative things that we have to get squared away, as well.”

  • The things that Jackson liked most about Kizer were that he “threw the ball down the field, made plays with his arm, made plays with his legs, and stood in the pocket with poise.” Among the things that Kizer needs to improve are “calling plays in the huddle” and “executing the play at the line of scrimmage.” Without getting into specifics, Jackson said there were small things that happened during the game that Kizer does better in practice, so they need to work at that.
  • Ultimately, Jackson still needs more time to think about the starting quarterback job and making the best decision for the team, while not over-reacting because of an exciting downfield pass.

“I just think that it is too soon. I don’t feel very comfortable, and that is why I haven’t made that decision. I think there is a process to all of this. I think we are just in the beginning phases of it for him. You want to do what is best for your team and for your players. It is not just because people see a bomb that is thrown down the field for 45 yards. There is more to playing quarterback than just that. We are not there yet. We are going to keep working at this thing, and we are going to continue to coach all of these guys to get better. When it is the right time to make the decision that we feel is right to say, ‘This is the quarterback of the Cleveland Browns for 2017,’ then we will make that decision.”

  • Hue would not rule out a smaller-scale change for the Giants game, like Kizer moving up to second-string. One other thing about Kizer I wanted to highlight was what Jackson said after Thursday’s game about the touchdown pass to WR Jordan Payton:

“I gave him two plays. I gave him two plays, and I thought in that moment, he handled that extremely well. He had an opportunity to do a couple of things and he did the right thing based on our conversation. Payton converted the route, which he should have, and DeShone found him for the win.”

  • Besides getting the win, Jackson was also very pleased with the fact that they got to work on a bunch of situational things in a live game. I apologize to Cody Kessler for initially thinking he made a sorry Hail Mary attempt to end the first half. When I re-watched the tape, I saw that no eligible receivers went out -- it was a designed throwaway to eat up clock and end the half, in lieu of a punt.

“Towards the end of the half we got to practice ‘foul ball,’ which you don’t get to practice that. We decided not to punt the ball to the other team to give them a chance to return it. There were some two-minute situations in this game. We went for it on fourth down. We went for a two-point play. There are a lot of good things for these young guys to grow from. A lot of these things don’t happen in preseason games so I am glad they did because these things will make a difference as we move forward.”

Hue Jackson’s Defensive Notes

  • DE Myles Garrett might not have registered a sack while he was in the game, but he still had a good game, including playing the run “extremely well,” per Jackson.

“He did some really good things. He rushed – the initial quickness of Myles off the ball was outstanding. He played the run extremely well. He came very close to having a sack one time where he got inside of an offensive tackle, hit the quarterback and brought him down. I loved the hustle plays that he made. I thought he had a good game last night, and he has to continue to build on that as we move forward.”

  • Browns fans who paid close attention to the entire game Thursday night know that DE Nate Orchard had a great stretch during the game, and that LB Joe Schobert played quite well too. Orchard’s extra snaps were likely due to DE Cam Johnson having to sit out with an injury, but he made the most of his opportunity and Jackson praised both Orchard and Schobert on Friday:

“I thought Nate Orchard showed up last night. Obviously, he made two plays in a row – he had a sack and then another tackle for a loss. That was outstanding to watch him go in there and compete like he did. There were several other players – (LB) Joe Schobert played extremely well last night. He handled the middle of our defense extremely well. There are so many guys over there that I can talk about from (LB) Jamie Collins (Sr.) to (DL) Danny Shelton. That is what we expect from those guys, but Nate Orchard and Joe Schobert to me really stood out last night because they are guys who have been fighting for opportunities, and they got them last night.”

  • Lastly, Jackson confirmed that the only injury they are dealing with from the game is SS Ibraheim Campbell going through the concussion protocol.