Yin and Yang
noun, (used with a singular or plural verb)
(in Chinese philosophy and religion) two principles, one negative, dark, and feminine (yin) and one positive, bright, and masculine (yang) whose interaction influences the destinies of creatures and things.
The ancient Chinese symbol of light and dark, good and evil. We have all seen the symbol some of you may have tattooed on your person, but it is more than the sum of its parts, and much more complicated than just positive and negative. It is 2 facets of the same entity. Each contains elements of its counterpart. We all have both within ourselves. Two brothers born of the same mother. Traveling the same path until they diverge, one to light and one to dark. I want to be clear that I am not making judgement calls on the paths that my subjects have taken. Each team has had its share of hard knocks and past success. My intention is to point out the decisions each has made and how they are now perceived by the public.
If you are a regular reader of my work then you know I have wrote about both teams this season. The New York Jets, Yin and the Cleveland Browns, Yang. Two sides of the coin that determines possession. Both teams glory days have long faded. The only thing that remains are Butt fumbles and Drug rehab for draft picks. Let us make no mistake both teams are still bad. If the Browns win 5 games this season it will be a moral victory for the team that went 1-15 last season. The Jets ownership has shown, this preseason that they are already looking toward next season. The thing I find extraordinary is how each of these bad teams are perceived by NFL pundits and fans alike. The Jets, the dark, are considered a dumpster fire. A team trying to lose in the hopes of landing a Franchise QB. The Browns, the light, a team on an upward trajectory. Their past poor decisions have been exercised and forgiven.
In my article, Grounded Jets, which was written prior to the release of Eric Decker. I detailed the salary dump of the Jets. It was clear that they had their eyes firmly set on the top picks next season. They have been criticized in the press for the perceived blatant attempt at tanking. Do I believe that the entire team is behind this effort? No I do not, however, will it matter if the right people are onboard. The 1919 Chicago White Sox did not need every member of the team to be a part of throwing games, just a few key members. The key members of the 2017 Jets are their owner, Woody Johnson and GM, Mike Maccagnan. They have decided to cut the roster to the bone, so that all that remains is a Green and White shell. What is to be gained by doing this? It is my belief that they have zero confidence in either of their QBs. It was announced this week that 38-year-old journeyman Josh McCown will be the starter when the Jets brake camp and start their march toward 2018. The Jets chose McCown over Christian Hackenberg, which came as a bit of a surprise since for the majority of the preseason Hackenberg got most of the reps with the first team this offseason while a healthy McCown watched for the most part. The motivation for this is unusual on the surface until you scratch away the top layer. Never in all my years have I seen a team so committed to next season. I am sure they wanted to use this preseason not to prep the team for success this year, but to evaluate the remaining players for the future. It seems clear that they have a good understanding of what McCown brings to the table, but what is unclear is the future in Gotham for the young guy, McCown and Petty. The driving force of a successful team is the QB. In the words of Tampa coach Dirk Kotter to his QB for this season Hard Knocks “You’re the only guy that can really lose a game for us because no one else touches the ball enough.” That applies not only to Jameis Winston but the other 31 starting QBs. With their decision to go with the 38 year old McCown, it is clear they have no intention of putting up a pretense. To this I warn, once you apply the brakes to this level it is hard to restart the forward momentum again. You run the risk of building a culture of losing, and that is something that is had to unload.
I have been open about my optimism of the Browns. I laid out in my article The Future of the Cleveland Browns which was published prior to the 2017 rookie draft, I made the case for a rosy future for the Browns. I made predictions on what I felt was the perfect strategy for the draft and what they should do moving forward. To their credit they have stayed extraordinarily disciplined. They shied away from taking the hyped rookie QB in favor of a difference maker on the defensive line, in Myles Garrett. All the reports out of Berea are glowing for the number one overall pick. He is explosive and showing the natural talent that made him the scouts consensus pick.
The Browns were not content to rely on just their draft picks. They shored up their offensive line with the addition of Free Agents Kevin Zeitler and J.C. Tretter and re-signing Joel Bitonio to match with Father Brown, Joe Thomas. These moves have given the Browns, according to Pro Football Focus, the second ranked offensive line.
They have continued to make the right moves this off-season, cutting ties with veteran corner Joe Haden. A move that raised some eyebrows until you look at the number of games he has missed over the last few seasons. This clears the way for young guys like Jabrill Pepers and Briean Boddy-Calhoun.
The Browns ended their QB competition this week when Coach Jackson announced that rookie QB Deshaun Kizer had won the starting job over Brock Osweiler. A move that indicates they are planning their future around the players they have drafted. It was clear at times this season that Kizer was not ready but he is very athletic and should provide a spark to this offense and specifically the run game. The Browns will take advantage of his young athletic legs which intern will help the run game. Crowell should benefit greatly behind that line and the very mobile Kizer. Coach Jackson has given indications that he intends to use Duke Johnson as a pass catching specialist, even playing running him out of the slot.
The Browns still have some questions at key positions, specifically at Wide Receiver. They signed Kenny Britt from the Rams to pair with 2nd year Wide Out Corey Coleman. Coleman, the Browns 2016 1st round pick out of Baylor didn’t live up to the hype suffering with a broken hand he received in practice late in September and struggled to produce the rest of the year with an anemic passing game. Where they finished 27th in receiving yards, with 3,649. They bring in Britt who managed to put up a 1000 on a Rams team who was even worse than the Browns, 3,313. They are hoping that adding a 2nd target will allow Coleman to step up to his first-round value.
Einstein said “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” The Browns and the Jets are both trying to find their balance. Both have made mistakes and both have suffered. They are at different locations this season but each organization hope to move toward a proper alignment and find their true Yin and Yang.
Duane (Pop) Gillespie