Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam was impatient for years when it came to his head coaches. When he needed to be impatient with Hue Jackson, he gave him more time.
That time ran out Monday, as the Browns fired Jackson during his third season as coach. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the firing on Monday morning.
Offensive coordinator Todd Haley also out
The Browns also fired offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Initially, there were rumblings that Jackson might be the only one to go, but the Browns decided to fire both men.
Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will serve as the team’s interim head coach, and Freddie Kitchens will be the offensive coordinator.
The decision to stick with Jackson, first through a 1-15 season and then through a 0-16 season, might cost the Browns a chance to be in the playoff race this year. They blew many winnable games this season, including one two weeks ago in overtime to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They fell to 2-5-1 with a loss on Sunday to the Pittsburgh Steelers and while it sounds strange to say it about the Browns, they’re far better than their record. Coaching hasn’t helped, especially in those close games. The dysfunction within the staff and particularly between Jackson and Haley, as outlined by Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson, was an issue too.
The Browns finally gave up on Jackson, probably a year or so too late. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com said Jackson “was told by ownership that the team had quit on him and that he wasn’t doing a good job of leading.” Jackson had a ghastly 3-36-1 record as Browns coach. Jackson’s career .205 win percentage is second-worst in NFL history (minimum 40 games) to only Bert Bell, who had a .179 win percentage from 1936-41.
In a statement, the Browns said: “We understand how critical this time period is in the development of our football team, individually and collectively, and believed it was in the organization’s best interest to make the move at this time, in order to maximize our opportunities the rest of this season.”
— Kimberley A. Martin (@ByKimberleyA) October 29, 2018
Hue Jackson was intriguing hire, but did not work out
The Jackson hire looked good when the Browns made it. Jackson had some good seasons as the Cincinnati Bengals’ offensive coordinator. After years of instability, the Browns were going to have a tough time finding any qualified coach, and Jackson was a relatively hot name when the Browns landed him.
Nothing, however, went right. The first season produced only one win, in the second-to-last game. You might have been able to excuse that, due to Jackson inheriting a poor roster. It was harder to explain when the Browns were even worse in his second season, posting the second 0-16 record in NFL history.
What made Jackson coming back for a third season even stranger is that Cleveland cleaned house in the front office, firing general manager Sashi Brown but giving Jackson another year. When the Browns broke their famous losing streak earlier this season, it was in spite of Jackson’s stubbornness. Jackson wanted to start Tyrod Taylor over No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield and repeatedly shot down any notion that the more talented Mayfield should get a shot. Taylor suffered a Week 3 concussion, forcing Jackson to play Mayfield for the first time. Mayfield led a thrilling comeback win that night. If it were up to Jackson, his talented rookie quarterback would have never been on the field.
That sums up Jackson’s time with the Browns.
Browns’ vacancy is interesting
The Browns have talented players, after plenty of high draft picks and a lot of money spent in free agency. Cleveland was expected to be better in 2018, but the results still haven’t been pretty. Haslam also will have to pay the final year-and-a-half of Jackson’s contract, which runs through 2019 according to Schefter.
The Browns’ vacancy will be an interesting one to track. Cleveland’s recent horrendous history won’t help. Neither will an ownership situation that is considered among the worst in the NFL. But candidates will look at the talent on the roster, especially with top overall pick Mayfield at quarterback, and see positives. Cleveland should get interest from attractive candidates.
And the biggest positive might be this: It won’t be hard for the Browns’ next coach to be an improvement over Jackson and his miserable run.
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