Never leave your fate in another man’s hands.
That’s the philosophy Browns head coach Hue Jackson is trying to instill in his football team a day after 3 second half turnovers – including 2 controversial fumbles – contributed to their demise in a 31-20 loss at Washington Sunday afternoon.
Duke Johnson’s fourth quarter fumble is the one dominating the conversation among fans because the officials appeared to assume that Washington recovered while Johnson came out with the ball sending fans into a tizzy.
“At the end of the day, it is our responsibility to hold onto the ball,” Jackson said Monday. “We can’t give and put people in a situation to hold judgement for our future. We get to control that. Don’t turn it over. Don’t turn it over and then there is never anybody second guessing or asking this or asking that.”
The Browns’ first year head coach has had plenty of obstacles in his first 4 games to deal with and a few questionable calls have been the icing on the cake – including Duke’s fumble – but Jackson, who plans to send the play into the league office for review, refused to challenge the call Monday when pressed about it.
“Well, it doesn’t matter what I think,” Jackson said. “I can’t challenge it anyway. I know people want me to jump on the officials right there and run on the field and go bananas and all that, but what is that going to do? I’m not going to let my team ever see me lose it like that. I don’t think that was what was important.”
After Johnson fumbled, the officials combed through the pile while Johnson stood holding the football. In addition to Johnson having the ball, there was not a lengthy review and Washington was quickly awarded the ball. Sarah Thomas, who served as the line judge and made the call, explained to Jackson that the play was reviewed upstairs and would not be overturned according to the Browns’ head coach.
“It looked awfully close to us, and obviously, Duke had the ball when he got up,” Jackson said. “It seemed like a bang, bang play. It was a fumble and then, boom, we had the ball, but that is not the way they judged it so we have to go with their decision.”
Late in the third quarter Jackson provided everyone with prime second-guessing material when he opted to give fullback Malcolm Johnson the football with the Browns driving and in position to make it a 2-score game. Malcolm fumbled and Washington recovered at the 9. Jackson explained that he was forced to go to Malcolm because Isaiah Crowell, who ran for 112 yards and a score on 15 carries, needed a breather and Duke Johnson was being checked for a concussion.
Jackson offered a simple solution to the questions that arose: don’t fumble.
“Malcolm doesn’t fumble the ball, you guys are not asking me this question,” Jackson said. “Duke doesn’t fumble the ball, we are not talking about the officiating. Let’s do our part. Our part is to hold onto the ball. We have to do that better.”
Lesson Learned – Terrelle Pryor hadn’t caught a touchdown pass prior to Sunday’s first quarter score so he had no idea his LeBron James chalk toss celebration would draw a flag following his 9-yard TD grab.
“I didn’t know,” Pryor said. “I don’t want to hurt my team. I was just, you know, got a battle going on with a great corner. We were down, 14-0, and we came back. I was juiced up.”
Pryor got off to a hot start against Washington cornerback Josh Norman catching all 4 targets for 42 yards and the score in the first half. He also was able to draw a pass interference flag against Norman but in the second half he caught just 1 of 4 targets for 4 yards and Norman intercepted Cody Kessler on a pass intended for him. Pryor indicated it had to do more with the game plan rather than personal production.
“Second half? Just went ghost, that’s right,” Pryor said jokingly. “No, we were running the ball great. That is what we wanted to set the foundation as. We were going to run on them and run the clock out, and it is unfortunate we had two fumbles and that is what happened.”
Another To IR – Center Austin Reiter is the 10th player to be placed on injured reserve by the Browns this season. Reiter sustained a torn ACL in the fourth quarter Sunday, ending his season after just 1 game.
Reiter joins quarterback Robert Griffin III, receivers Rannell Hall and Dennis Parks, defensive linemen Nile Lawrence-Stample and Dylan Wynn, kicker Patrick Murray, running backs Rajion Neal and Glenn Winston and linebacker Nate Orchard. Defensive end Desmond Bryant is on the reserve non-football injury list.
“No one is going to feel sorry for our circumstances,” Jackson said. “Yeah, it is tough, but we have to find a way. We have been doing it every week since we started. Whether it has been the quarterback or shuffling the line, receiver, here or there, we still continue to go out and fight. That is a good thing. I think we will grow and learn from all of these experiences that we are having right now to be better in the future.”
Replacing Reiter – Jackson and the Browns will scour the waiver wire to see if they can add another center but it looks like John Greco will return to center and Alvin Bailey to right guard this week against New England.
“We will do everything we can to see if we can improve in that area,” Jackson said.
Bailey was benched Sunday for his arrest that resulted in an OVI, speeding as well as 2 drug related charges last Monday.
“I don’t hold grudges,” Jackson said. “Once we make a decision and talk, we move on from things, but we are going to do things right. My point is there are consequences to anything and everything you do within our building. I think Alvin understands that, but we had a good talk and we will move forward from there.”