Hue Jackson’s plan to save the Browns: Possibly taking over play-calling duties from Todd Haley
Hue Jackson has seen enough. Yes, the Browns have won two games in seven weeks — double what Jackson managed in his first two seasons — but this team could have three, maybe four wins. And the latest defeat, an overtime loss in Tampa Bay that featured another uninspiring effort from the offense (3 for 14 on third down, 0 for 2 on fourth down, five sacks allowed) has prompted Jackson to nominate himself to get more involved.
Just to be clear: In addition to his head-coaching responsibilities, Jackson was the the play caller during his first two seasons in Cleveland, when the team went 1-15 and 0-16 and the unit ranked 29th and 32nd, according to Football Outsiders. Heading into Sunday’s game, the Browns’ offense ranked … 30th.
“It’s not going to be about butting heads,” Jackson told reporters after the Bucs game, via Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot. “I’m the head coach of the football team. I will do what I feel I need to do to get this team where it needs to be.”
And what does Jackson feel he needs to do ahead of next Sunday’s game against the Steelers?
“I don’t know. I haven’t thought through that part of that yet. I’ll figure that out as I move forward.”
Back in January, shortly after the Browns hired Haley, Jackson sounded like someone who even then wasn’t crazy about the idea of someone else dialing up the play calls.
“If I was going to turn over the play-calling duties to someone else, it had to be to someone that was experienced and had a long history of success in this league,” Jackson said as part of his statement in the team release. “We were going to be patient about it because there is always a lot of movement in the early part of the offseason. When Todd became available, I jumped at the opportunity to meet with him. Once we sat down and talked, it became quickly evident that Todd would be a great fit.”
Haley arrived in Cleveland after a successful six-year stint in Pittsburgh, where he helped elevate Ben Roethlisberger’s game. And before that, he was behind the Cardinals offense that featured Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald and was a play away from beating the Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII.
But Jackson hasn’t seen enough from Haley or the Browns’ offense to continue down this path. Changes are afoot.
“I feel like I have to (get more involved). And I want to,” Jackson said. “That’s what I know, so I’m not going to continue to watch something that I know how to do keep being that way. That’s just the truth. I mean, that’s nothing against anybody in our building. I just think that’s what I do, and I think I need to be a little bit more involved. …
“Trust me when I say I’m not trying to create any issue here, but I think if the offense is not playing well, and we haven’t over a period of time; being a head coach and an offensive guy who’s done this, I think I have every right as a head coach to jump in and see if I can help and assist and get this thing to where I think it needs to be, because we need to be better on offense. And if that’s my specialty, then I need to be involved more and I will be.”
Jackson certainly has every right to make this decision — he’s the coach. But, well, he’s also the coach; if he’s not able to fix this offense himself then what’s he bringing to the organization? As it stands, Jackson is 3-35-1 in Cleveland. Put another way: That’s one fewer win than what the Rams and second-year coach Sean McVay managed in September.
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