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NFL Hard Count Episode 18-3: Hue Jackson, Chris Baker and the Loss in Jacksonville

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The third installment of this league-wide look at the 2018 football year.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

There’s one week left in the 2018 pre-season and this week I target my opinions at Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers ‘player’ Chris Baker, and the fallout of the Madden Tournament shooting.

OFFSIDES: Hue Jackson Quarterback Decisions

If you get Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith, Hue Jackson and I in a room I can guarantee one thing. Michael and I are going to dislike Jackson’s quarterback decisions.

Last year it was DeShone Kizer. Remember him? He was the quarterback drafted by Cleveland who was evaluated as needing at least two or three years to develop before possibly being NFL starter material.

At least two or three years.

Jackson however, saw a day one starter. And start, Kizer did.

Five starts, five losses, three touchdowns and nine interceptions into his first season, the quarterback who suffered with confidence issues at Notre Dame was benched. And then he was re-inserted one week later as the starter again. Oh, and don’t forget about his team trading for A.J. McCarron to presumably take over starting duties. But then again, that didn’t work either.

Now, fastforward to this past week. Starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor injured his hand failing out of bounds. He went into the locker room to have it evaluated and it turns out he dislocated his pinky. So, obviously he sat the rest of the game so he could heal up without risking further injury, right?

Nope. He was put back in the game. Well, I mean, I get that it’s only pre-season, but getting multiple possessions in with his first-team gives them a good amount of snaps to work on things critical to the season.

Taylor played one series upon returning. Coach Jackson has since tried to justify his decision as a team building tactic critical to the future of the franchise. Listen, if one series in a pre-season game with an injured hand is the difference between success and failure for your team, then...well, it’s just not.

I said it last year and I’ll say it now. As long as Hue Jackson makes decisions like this one and still has a job, no coach in the entire league should be fired.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

FALSE START: Chris Baker is what they said he was

The Washington Redskins are not known for hiding or retaining hidden talent in the league. In fact, they’re more known for overpaying talent echelons above the level the player actually deserves compared to his counterparts.

Enter, Chris Baker. In the 2017 off-season the Redskins made zero effort to retain Baker. Not even a nice ‘screw you’ type of offer to claim they at least extended the chance for him to stay in a city he claims to love so much.

Nothing.

If a team like that one wasn’t willing to keep Baker, maybe Jason Licht and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should have known it just wasn’t going to work out when they brought him in last year.

Now, some kudos to Licht here as he structured Baker’s contract in a way so the team could cut ties as quickly as possible without jeopardizing the rest of the team’s efforts. Still though, hindsight is clear.

Enter the Cincinnati Bengals. Guys. If the Redksins didn’t want him at all, and the Bucs then released him after having one of if not the worst defensive lines in the NFL what made the Bengals think he’d do better for them?

Too much Gold Star chili if you ask me.

Well, Baker’s time in Cincy was even shorter than his time in Tampa Bay. Perhaps the Washington Capitals could use a permanent cheerleader in the stands.

God may not be done with you, Chris. But after getting dismissed in Washington, Tampa Bay, and now Cincinnati, the NFL probably is.

News: Jacksonville Landing Shooting Florida Today-USA TODAY NETWORK

FREE PLAY: Sports Gaming Tragedy

It’s pretty likely you know what went down at a Madden Tournament in Jacksonville over the weekend. If not, Google it.

I don’t want to focus on the negative of this. Instead, I want to focus on the positive. Almost as quickly as the reports surfaced of the shooting happening, there were messages across all platforms sending love and prayers to those impacted.

Granted, those tweets and posts don’t prevent violence, but they do demonstrate something. Resiliency.

Just like people haven’t stopped flying, stopped going to movies, or stopped going to school, the gamer community won’t stop the skyrocketing trajectory their community is currently on.

Instead, they’re going to find a way to turn tragedy into inspiration. Those who have passed will not have died in vain, instead their memories will be attached to the future of an industry that is breaking through ceiling after ceiling on a yearly and monthly basis.

Listen, I don’t game enough to be one of these guys. But the last thing I see happening is the downfall of a generation who have turned what used to be a hobby into a money making profession.

There are a lot of angles we could discuss, just like we always do when these things happen. I’m not going to get into all of that on here. Instead, I’m going to help those looking to honor the memories of the players who were lost.

To those injured and recovering, I wish you a long line of health and a quick return to the world you dedicate so much time to.

To the families affected. I hope you find peace and are able to continue life as it deserves to be lived.

Elijah Clayton and Taylor Robertson. We never met, but I respect anyone who chases their dreams and does what they love. Rest In Peace to you both, judging from the outpouring of love in your name, your lives were not wasted.