Ex-Browns coach: OC Todd Haley wanted Hue Jackson's job, but got fired instead

It’s been a nice change of pace that the latest drama with the Cleveland Browns is about their coaching, and not about the quarterback or how bad the team is. It’s refreshing!

This time, it’s about the Browns’ recently fired offensive coordinator Todd Haley. And the news comes from former Browns coach Sam Rutigliano, who helmed the team from 1978-84. He and Haley are close, and so Rutigliano was able to share some inside information about Haley when he spoke with Andy Baskin and Jeff Phelps of Cleveland sports talk-radio station 92.3 The Fan. Via ProFootballTalk:

“Why did they fire Todd Haley?” Rutigliano said. “I talked to him on the phone. When he was going to the office he thought he was going to take over. And he got fired. . . . He said to me, ‘I had no idea. When I was going back into the office I thought possibly if they were going to let Hue Jackson go, that I would have the opportunity now to be the interim coach and then get the job eventually, and that’s why I came here.’ And then it went the opposite direction.”

That’s a pretty rude surprise. According to Rutigliano, Haley thought he was about to be promoted to interim head coach when he went into the office that fateful day. Instead he was fired, and he had absolutely no idea it was coming.

Todd Haley coaches against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on October 21, 2018, in Tampa, Florida. (Getty Images)
Todd Haley coaches against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on October 21, 2018, in Tampa, Florida. (Getty Images)

But Rutigliano may have revealed a bit more than he intended to, or perhaps more than Haley wanted him to. According to Rutigliano, Haley’s purpose in taking the job with the Browns in January was to eventually become the head coach. He coached the Kansas City Chiefs from 2009 until he was fired in 2011, so he obviously wants another bite of the apple.

If it’s true that Haley always wanted the head-coaching job in Cleveland, then he was assuming that Jackson was going to be fired at some point. And while it may seem tacky for Haley to join the staff of a man he thought was going to be fired with the hope of taking his job, let’s be serious — even newborn infants and a pile of playground mulch knew Jackson was going to be fired eventually. Winning the franchise’s first game in nearly two years didn’t save his job, it threw his deficiencies as coach into sharper focus and maybe even rushed the process along.

Haley shouldn’t be faulted for wanting another shot at coaching and actively trying to get it. But attaching himself to the dying star of Jackson may not have been the best way to go about it, especially considering Rutigliano’s additional comments.

“I don’t think they had a relationship,” Rutigliano said. “You’re working with a guy who had one win and 31 losses and he’s going to tell you what to do? And he proved all three years that he was incompetent. He wasn’t qualified for the job.”

Jackson’s incompetence couldn’t be contained forever, and when it exploded, it inevitably got all over everything around him. Even though he and Haley may not have had a relationship, Haley couldn’t avoid being stained. Hopefully once he washes off that Jackson stink, he can find a position with another team. Has he tried baking soda and vinegar? I’ve heard it works wonders on bad head-coaching stains.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on Twitter at @lizroscher.

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