As head coach of the Cleveland Browns, Hue Jackson has struggled to win both games, and approval of fans. Looking at why Jackson is still in place.
As Hue Jackson eases into his seat gearing up for the Cleveland Browns‘ 2018 season, hoping the smoldering coals underneath don’t begin to sear anything of vital importance, fans indeed wonder just how hot Hue Jackson’s seat is. My intentions here are not necessarily to change any opinions, rather to add perspective to the reasoning behind retaining him.
Following the disaster called the 2017 season, owner Jimmy Haslam had a sit-down with a group of players to clear the air and get an understanding of what was wrong, and if anything at all was right.
Sashi Brown was soon after relieved of his duties as general manager and it was made known that Jackson would continue as head coach. It may simply be an assumption, but I would argue that Jackson’s job security was a direct result of that meeting and the specific feedback of those players involved in that meeting.
Joe Thomas offered his thoughts on how the Browns made the right decision to not fire Hue Jackson, via SI. In the article, Thomas offers a detailed insider’s view that fans should certainly consider before making the determination that Jackson should currently be unemployed.
Personally, there were several decisions made that I found simply unacceptable. You don’t publicly say you will stick with a guy no matter what, then bench him. You don’t then un-bench him, bench him again and so forth. If I could detail the reasoning, I would, but honestly those moves left me scratching my noggin and extending my vocabulary.
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Furthermore, I truly don’t understand the decision to abandon the running game, whether trailing in a game or not. I also agree that some of the other play calling was nothing short of mind-boggling.
In Jackson’s defense, he had a smorgasboard piled atop his single plate. A coach must certainly find pride in educating young players and helping them grow, but what do you do with an entire roster of young pups in need of an education and a gameplan to prepare each week?
Top that with a lack of an offensive coordinator, few veterans to offer leadership and guidance, and a quarterback thrown into the deep end of a pool before learning how to swim, and it sounds to me like a bellyful of struggles any way you slice it.
Yet, somehow, the players stood behind him. Joe Thomas stands behind him. Even, Jimmy Haslam, known for his fast-draw firing thus far as an owner, stands behind him.
If John Dorsey stands behind him it’s anyone’s guess. The decision to keep Jackson in place was made before Dorsey was hired. If we have learned anything about Dorsey, I don’t expect we will hold our breath waiting for him to say much about it. Dorsey and Jackson appear to have a good working relationship and until it plays out we should not expect any clarity or change.
The addition of several veteran players accompanied by new offensive coordinator, Todd Haley, should pave the way for Hue to show why he was hired in the first place. A team needs a leader, a role-model, a father-figure, and Jackson can now focus on providing that exclusively.
Whether it was all too much for one man to handle, or Hue was simply inadequate remains to be seen. The Cleveland Browns will show improvement in 2018. How much improvement is needed for Jackson to regain the faith of the fans remains a mystery, but for some that faith will only come with a Super Bowl title or something very close. For others, the ship has set sail.
For me, I am onboard with Jackson, for now. I get the impression that men would gear up and follow him through hell without a second thought. As the game of football goes, many already have. It is not an easy thing to find a charismatic leader, willing to jump onto an 0-16 grenade for his men, yet Hue has – twice. He has not run, he has not abandoned those under him. Instead, he stands strong, ready and willing to take whatever comes, good or bad.
Jackson has caught ridicule for supposedly pointing fingers and placing blame. But frankly, I don’t see it, at least not to the degree accepted by the masses. Take, for instance, the recent comments from former Browns running back Isaiah Crowell.
Crowell acknowledged that his role was undefined and that he was unsure what would be asked, or allowed, of him from week to week. From the outside this is indeed concerning, but if Jackson is so eager to deflect blame, why have we not heard his side of the story?
Is it at all possible that Jackson and Crowell simply butted heads? Perhaps Crowell played a part in his own disgruntlement, perhaps not. I could certainly understand a coach refusing to cater to a single unhappy player.
I wonder if that struggling relationship may have even played a part in the abandonment of the running game mentioned earlier. Aside from Duke Johnson, who else did they have to fill the role? Johnson’s role is that of a playmaking receiver out of the backfield more so than an every-down workhorse and the depth simply wasn’t there.
While some of the ridicule — or boo-Hueing — was certainly earned, some was a simple matter of circumstance, and some was a result of happenings behind closed doors. The 2018 season may offer some clarity, but I expect the healing process to extend well beyond, if indeed any healing is to be found.