The Cleveland Browns wiped out their entire offensive brain trust on Monday.
In addition to firing coach Hue Jackson, the Browns also canned offensive coordinator Todd Haley, the team announced Monday. Freddie Kitchens will serve as the offensive coordinator.
Heading into Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh, it appeared if a firing took place, either Jackson or Haley would remain with the organization while the other was let go.
Now both are out.
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Haley was hired this offseason by Jackson to help reconstruct a woebegone offense and shepherd No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield. Under the rookie, the Browns offense improved for spurts, but inconsistency remained. Cleveland went from scoring 14.6 points per game (worst in the league) in 2017 to 21.1 (24th in the NFL) in 2018.
Under Haley’s guidance, the Browns were predictable on offense. Following first-down incompletions or sacks, it was almost a given that Cleveland would call a running play. If spectators knew those plays were coming, you can bet defenses did as well. The Browns owned a 6 percent success rate on such runs, per Warren Sharp. The banality of Haley’s offense began to hinder Mayfield’s growth.
So too did the Browns’ usage of their few playmakers. On a team needing all the offensive firepower it could garner, the lack of touches for Duke Johnson was borderline criminal.
The relationship between Jackson and Haley appeared frayed from the start. During the first episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks, it was apparent that the offensive coordinator didn’t completely buy into Jackson’s plan. In the past week, that relationship came to a head publicly.
When it was reported that the team fired Jackson, it was assumed that Haley won the battle and would stay on. Wrong.
Clearing out the top two men on offense thrusts Mayfield into a precarious situation for the final eight games of his rookie season. The hope is, given the mental fortitude Mayfield displayed in college and early in his career, the cluster won’t fray his development.
The Browns have been a bungled organization for decades, but firing both the head coach and offensive coordinator on the same day halfway into a season is a new level of chaos.
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