Owner Jimmy Haslam, who’s been more patient with Jackson than other coaches under his regime, has finally decided to give the coach a pink slip.
Cleveland stuck with Jackson through a 1-15 first season, and a 0-16 campaign last year. The hope was that they would take a huge step forward in 2018 after adding more talent through the draft and free agency.
The Browns were more competitive to start the year than they had been in previous seasons. However, they blew a couple of winnable games and have now fallen out of playoff contention after a recent blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
At 2-5-1,Cleveland is looking at another losing season. That said, it felt like the right time for the organization to cut ties with him.
The front office reportedly told Jackson “that the team had quit on him and that he wasn’t doing a good job of leading.” He exits Cleveland with a .205 winning percentage in his head coaching career, which ranks second worst in NFL history (40 games minimum) only to Bert Bell, who had a .179 winning percentage from 1936-41.
Hue Jackson Once Seemed Like a Good Hire
It’s obvious at this point that Hugh Jackson wasn’t the right man for the Cleveland job. But after a very successful stint as the Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator, he seemed like a solid hire three years ago.
Multiple teams were interested in Jackson as a head coach at the time. The Browns, who’ve gone through a number of rocky times with coaches in the past, seemed lucky to land Jackson.
His first season was bad, with the team producing a 1-15 record. Things only got worse the following year as the Browns became just the second team to go winless in 16 contests.
Some thought that he could be fired in the offseason. This is especially the case when considering that they canned general manager Sashi Brown last offseason and brought in new GM John Dorsey.
Nevertheless, Cleveland gave Jackson one more shot to show that he could guide the team to improvement. The Browns started well enough, going 1-1-1 over the first three games and looking far more competitive. But they’ve since devolved to a 1-4 record in their last five contests.
Did Hard Knocks Lay the Seed for Jackson Being Fired?
Aside from Jackson’s terrible record as the Browns coach, he also indicated friction between he and offensive coordinator Tom Haley in a recent press conference.
This is strange when considering that Jackson actually pursued Haley to be his handpicked offensive coordinator. Furthermore, he promised to be hands-off and let Haley call all of the plays on offense.
The HBO show Hard Knocks created a narrative that Haley was more of an alpha coach, while Jackson was more passive. This may have played a role in Hugh’s recent press conference comments, where he discussed getting more involved in the offense after the Pittsburgh game.
“There’s nothing wrong with my relationship with Haley,” Jackson said.
“I said what I said last week [about wanting to be more involved in the offense] and obviously it had legs. But I’ve never said I wanted to take over play-calling. I said I wanted to help. That’s it.”
Here’s more on the Hard Knocks friction from Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio:
“Jackson apparently was irritated with some of the perceptions created by the editing of the “Hard Knocks” series. Chief among them was how his coaching style was portrayed against the demonstrative barking storylines of Haley and Williams, who were often framed as the salty counterparts to Jackson’s somewhat less-profane (on TV, anyway) brand of leadership.
“One moment in particular was recalled by multiple sources: a disagreement Jackson had in a meeting with Haley and running backs coach Freddie Kitchens (who has a close relationship with Haley), over the resting of players.
“During that incident, Jackson shut down Haley and Kitchens, who disagreed with resting players to avoid injuries in practice. Jackson then punctuated his authority in the decision, closing the debate by stating “[At] the end of the day, I get to drive this bus, and I’m going to get it the way I want it. That’s it. Period. That’s just how it works.”
For Haslam’s part, he was looking to avoid any knee-jerk reactions. After all, he’s gone through a number of head coaches while owning the Browns.
The owner spoke with Dorsey about the Haley situation and Jackson’s overall resume with Cleveland. It appears that the conversation steered towards getting rid of the head coach, rather than the OC.
Who Could Be the Browns Head Coach?
Cleveland has a few options for how they can go about replacing Jackson. Haley and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams both have head coaching experience.
They could also pull a former head coach off the street who’s interested in guiding a team. Another option includes hiring an up-and-coming coordinator who’d be willing to implement their system mid-season.
Whatever the case may be, things can’t turn out any worse with the next coach than they did with Jackson.