Browns

It’s time to fire Hue Jackson

When the Browns hired Hue Jackson in January of 2016, I was as optimistic as I have ever been as a Browns fan. For once I thought the Browns actually found their man. His track record with Cincinnati’s offense (impressive enough in his two years) and his brief stay with Oakland in 2011, resulting in an 8-8 finish, pointed to a man who was ready to lead a franchise willing to give him the chance he deserved. Jackson was a guy who chose Cleveland despite several other teams in pursuit. Along with Adam Gase, he was one of the hottest names of the market going into the 2016 season. The key factor for Jackson picking Cleveland? Freedom. Let’s take a look at where that freedom has gone wrong.

Personnel Decisions

Jackson was given a prominent voice in the acquisition of personnel – something that helped force him out of Oakland back in 2011. Sashi Brown and company declined the opportunity to hire an experienced football executive after the disastrous 1-15 season in 2016- a draft that included passing on not only Carson Wentz, but also Joey Bosa and Ezekiel Elliot. The Browns passed on adding experience in their personnel department in favor of a higher opinion of Jackson’s considerations. Sashi Brown made reference to it late in the season during post-season media meetings. Jeff Schudel wrote this in The News Herald regarding Brown’s trust in Jackson in regard to solving the Browns longest known problem, finding a franchise quarterback:

Since Brown has decided to not hire a football executive graying at the temples, Brown said he will rely “a ton” on Jackson to find the right one. “We haven’t established ‘the guy’ at the position so we’re going to look at all options, and we’ll continue to work to develop the guys that we have on our roster,” Brown said. “Hue, when we introduced him, we talked about that being one of the reasons we brought him here. We talk a lot. We watch tape on our guys so that we can learn and get on the same page and share ideas, but Hue knows how to identify them, he knows how to develop them and he knows what works for his system. There is no question he and I are going to have to be arm and arm in understanding who we are going to bring into this building to try to solve that position for us long term.”

The goal here is not to tie Jackson to the personnel entirely, the front office is even more responsible than Jackson for the failures in that department, but Jackson can’t avoid being partially responsible. He is tied to missing out on Wentz. Jackson said after the 2016 draft: ” “At the time, he wasn’t the right fit for us. I think Carson will have a bright future, and we decided to go in a different direction. We evaluated him as a really good player.” That is an amazing miss. Jackson told us to “trust him” on the Cody Kessler pick in that same year and now Hue has buried him. We are being led to believe that he texted DeShaun Watson on the morning of the draft, and then the franchise didn’t make the choice. Jackson admitted he supported the decision to pass on Watson. His support of Watson, then lack of support, is just odd.

Plenty can be said about the failures of this roster at many positions, most notably the wide receiver and quarterback unit, but Jackson’s insistence on passing on the above names has led to his demise. The Browns decision to enter this year with DeShone Kizer, Brock Osweiler, Cody Kessler, and Kevin Hogan as their best options is a cataclysmic organizational failure. It’s not all on Jackson, but he is an equal partner. Especially after this most recent Kevin Hogan performance not six weeks into a season after making this comment.

Play Calling

Jackson made his biggest mark in 2010 as the offensive coordinator of the Raiders, and his 2014 and 2015 seasons as the Bengals’ Offensive Coordinator. He showed a willingness to adapt and make his mark on the personnel around him. He made Andy Dalton effective, and implemented a power run scheme that gave Jeremy Hill his most effective season’s in the NFL. He took the Raiders from 17 touchdowns in 2009 to 37 in 2010. He brought an edge to both franchises, and he made them both much better on their side of the football.

The problem for Hue is that during his two stints as a Head Coach, he has been unable to delegate responsibility and failed to hire his own offensive coordinator to call plays. He entertained the idea of Pep Hamilton but decided to keep the duty himself. That leads us to where we are right now with the 2017 Cleveland Browns. A totally worthless group on offense that is lacking any ability to move the football consistently.

They rank 25th in total offense, and that is only because they are frequently falling behind so defenses are allowing them to tack on some passing yards. Yet again, they rank in the bottom third in both passing and running, and they have no systematic base. They don’t have a style of play which gives them a baseline to go to when times get tough. They have an offensive line, that according to Pro Football Focus ranks is in the top third of football, yet they haven’t found a go-to running scheme. The running base is where all success comes from in offense. It builds deception and allows your offense to create systems of plays that use it to their advantage. The Browns are somehow throwing the ball 65% of the time when they spent so much money on a developing offensive line and returned two solid running backs. With two young quarterbacks, this makes so little sense. Under Jackson, the Browns have failed in all aspects on offense.

Ability to Adapt

When difficult situations arise on offense, the Browns are forced into making throws deep downfield far too often. They are putting young quarterbacks, Kizer and Hogan, in situations that require making deep throws at a rate that is alarming. The goal for your offense is to be built around the personnel you have. The Texans have adapted to the strengths of DeShaun Watson in their inside zone/play-action scheme. Using sequencing to make it work for the young quarterback. They are pairing run game deception to make it easy.

and then this…

The Eagles have built an offense that is based around Carson Wentz’s strength in the RPO (run-pass option) system.

Jared Goff was being brutally misused under Jeff Fisher, and now Scott McVay has saved his young career with his heavy west-coast offense schemes. They use their back Todd Gurley along with lateral misdirection thanks to the speedy Tavon Austin – who the Browns can liken to Duke Johnson.

The coach’s responsibility is to design the offense best fit to work with their young quarterback, and Hue hasn’t done that. He is running a system that lacks a base, and is putting his team in some terrible situations it can’t overcome.

Lack of Discipline 

One of the many reasons Mark Davis didn’t bring back Hue Jackson in 2012 was attributed to his his team’s lack of discipline. The 2011 Raiders set a record (at the time) for penalties in a season. They had 163 total, more than 10 a game, for 1,358 yards. The Browns are again in the Top 10 for total penalties, and this group has shown over and over again just how undisciplined it is. They are also coughing up costly turnovers, and when you combine a high number of turnovers with costly penalties, you have a bad outcome. Not all of this is on the coach, but in the end, the lion’s share of the responsibility falls on the head coach to have a disciplined group – especially when the Browns have to keep all advantages in their favor they can when the talent margin is as wide as it can be at times.

Conclusion

The last thing I wanted is for the Browns to turn it over after another two-year head coach tenure. It is a vicious cycle that is just ripping the franchise apart. I don’t want to write this kind of article, but the facts are hard to ignore. 1-21 makes you look at things closely. Rebuilds happen often in the NFL and some glimmers of hope emerge. It is one thing to rebuild, it is another to have zero clear vision or improvement from the personnel. Some winning has to happen, and unfortunately this feels like an all-time low. The Browns have went 1-21, passed on two potential franchise quarterbacks, failed to develop their current talent, failed to hire the necessary coordinators to see success. It is a cataclysmic failure from top to bottom and it is now easy to see that Hue Jackson isn’t helping the situation. He is only making matters worse. I always turn to this concept:

Hue’s arrogance and utter unwillingness to change have been obvious. He has an ego that has shown itself to be more detrimental than helpful. To an extent all head coaches in the NFL have to be confident, they have to get a team to believe in him. Yet, somehow Hue has failed to let some humility sneak in when it should. I think it will be his ultimate demise.

“We are not going 1-15 (again). No, or I’ll be swimming in the lake over there somewhere. That is not happening. I just know me too well. I know me and I know these guys too well. We are not going 1-15 next year, OK? You can write it if you like. Hue Jackson said it. We are not.”
— Browns head coach Hue Jackson, Jan 1, 2017

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi PAT … soooooooo , get your stud QB , workhorse stud RB & get a couple of capable receivers & we might be surprised how quickly things turn around.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi LUNCH … good post.

  • tigersbrowns2

    the Browns are 2-31 in their last 33 games … worst 33 game stretch in NFL history.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi ROB … our most accurate passer & Hue’s “trust me” guy isn’t even on the active roster. I too was hoping he’d be the starter this year.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi SCOTT … this is Cleveland we’re talking about … there is no such thing as patience.

  • tigersbrowns2

    Hue is working with the youngest team in the NFL … they started a rookie QB & they have no WR’s … it’s hard to get good results with that set-up … yes, i predicted 6-10.

  • jpftribe

    I believe it’s a case of who they are holed up with. The offensive staff on this team is full of position coaches. This is directly Hue’s responsibility, but Hue is also not King and Emperor. There are people he reports to in the org that have a responsibility to say no to the HC scouting players, coaching QB’s, installing an offense, managing the team and managing game plans / games. If they refuse to do this to avoid conflict, then they are creating a passive aggressive culture, and passive aggressive will fail to prove their point.

    This is management 101 stuff and they have to get this right.

  • jpftribe

    Peter principal. Don’t know if they need an HC because the guy doing it is the OC, and they definitely need one of those.

  • tigersbrowns2

    i mentioned yesterday that i watched the Giants / Broncos game Sunday night where the Giants were 0-5 , without their top 4 WR’s , totally reshuffled the O-line & Ben McAdoo had to give up his OC duties … they promptly whipped Denver’s ass .

    Both the Giants & Bears won on the road against superior opponents , by running , running & running some more … i don’t think either team threw more than 16 times. We have a pretty good O-line … at first i wanted to see more aggressive , less predictable play-calling … but now , i think we would almost be better running the ball two-thirds of the time & punt if you have to … less mistakes & we’ll probably stay in games longer.

  • Pat Leonard

    Man, I don’t even need that. Get me another WR and a healthy Corey Coleman. Get me a QB who can get the football out of his hands. Get me more touches for Duke Johnson and David Njoku.

  • tigersbrowns2

    get me Saquon Barkley !

  • Pat Leonard

    I really like Barkley, but when I think about it, it’s just hard for me to imagine him making a big difference on our current team when we’re throwing picks in the red zone, missing field goals, taking sacks… kid would have his work cut out for him.

  • tsm

    I too have finally come around to the idea that Hue has to go at the end of the season. More importantly, we absolutely must not trade down in the 2018 draft. All the experts mentioned that the 2018 class of QB’s were better than 2017, especially at the top. Thus, no excuse not to pick Darnold or Rosen since we will have a pick at the top. Our HBT need to understand that asuperior talent is worth more than 3 average guys -see Garrett. Bypassing Wentz and Watson is inexcusable, especially Wentz, who I think is Big Ben 2.0. The evaluation and development of talent is the key to winning.

  • tigersbrowns2

    think Kareem Hunt , Leonard Fournette , Dalvin Cook , McCaffrey , Mixon , Kamara etc. … explosive rookie RB’s that can make an immediate impact.

  • tigersbrowns2

    … CBS sports already has us taking Rosen at #1 overall.

  • Pat Leonard

    Most of them have stable QBs… Alex Smith, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Drew Brees. They might not be making a big impact without that stability. The other piece is that they have coaches who are willing to run the football. Cleveland RBs all had average yards/carry over 4.8 last week and it didn’t matter because Kevin Hogan threw picks which led to points for the Texans which led to Hue thinking that he needed to throw to stay in the game, which led to more picks… need to have a coach who isn’t afraid to run the ball when down two TDs in the first half.

  • MartyDaVille

    On the other hand, they’re both wide open.

  • MartyDaVille

    tb, there’s no such thing as patience in Cleveland? Really?

    The past three generations of fans for you on line 3.

  • tigersbrowns2

    ‘thank for holding … Mr. TB2 will take your call as soon as possible … you are # 32,176 in line … have a nice day.” https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/87a8273001b57aafd00ee8ba7b907390d75eb6e5bc4c8ae864cf95b37a3d6b07.gif

  • NOPER

    You can’t hold his public statements on players up as his actual opinions. Watson’s text story (I think anyway) shows a distinct difference of opinion on players. Nobody in the league ever wants to put any disharmony on full display so of course he’s going to deny any and outwardly say he and Sashi are on the level.

    The discipline problem can be traced to this being a super young team.

    Play calling and his oppositional-defiant like stubbornness I can’t argue with. This is a smashmouth group that’s trying to throw all day. Good god what a wreck.

  • paulbip

    So, other than that, what don’t you like about Hue? Trust me

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi NOPER … good post .

  • tigersbrowns2

    just put Kizer back at QB , run the ball more , play defense , beat the Titans , shock the world & all will be well for at least 1 week … GO BROWNS !!!!

  • mgbode

    right up until they run into each other…

  • mgbode

    Hey Tiger, you’ve been hacked.

  • Saggy

    Two words:
    Kaeper Nick

  • Casual_Kenny_Reigns

    In Oakland, he had Pryor at QB and he was a huge upgrade over what we have now. Plus, on half the plays Pryor was running for his life.

  • Casual_Kenny_Reigns

    By default, sure. The O-line is mediocre and a step down from last year. But it doesn’t matter because the blocking schemes are awful and both the TE and FB are letting people through.

    The D-line is hot garbage.

  • Skulb

    Too soon for me. Can’t evaluate this before the three year mark.

    1: Three seasons. Progress in year two, significant progress in year three. All Hue needs this season is two wins and some competitive games to close out the season. Not a very high bar, but if he fails to clear it you can think about moving on.

    2: Never fire anybody unless you already know who the replacement is. Gregg Williams is not an inspiring option.

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  • mgbode

    OL a step DOWN from last year? I’ll have to disagree with you there. Just the absence of Cam Erving alone has this year as an upgrade and Pasztor isn’t there either.

    If you haven’t seen positive signs from Myles Garrett (holy smokes, we actually hit on a draft pick), Larry Ogunjobi, Danny Shelton, and Emmanual Ogbah, then I don’t know what to tell you. They are stout against the run. We weren’t getting pressure w/o Myles, but he is helping there now. It’s not great, but so far from hot garbage. We’ve seen hot garbage, we know hot garbage. This DL is not hot garbage.

  • Chris

    Bite your tongue!!! Joe Thomas would make a HELL of a running back!!!

  • Chris

    …which is exactly when he’s at his best!

  • jpftribe

    This team is just not anywhere good enough to overcome Qb’s that miss wide open long balls, turn it over inside the 10 and throw random pick six’s. Instead of masking some of these developmental problems it is magnifying it.

  • gotbuckets_com

    I guess if they go 0-16 he is still technically correct.

    But here’s the thing about analyzing “missed” picks. Why do we have confidence Bosa or Elliot or Wentz would be productive on the Browns?

  • tigersbrowns2

    good post SKULB.

  • mgbode

    Myles Garrett shows that Joey Bosa would have been productive anyway. DE’s sort of can write their own script.

    A good point on Zeke & Wentz. Also, Zeke’s current lawsuit could be more disastrous to a locker room that doesn’t have stability. Wentz & Watson talk is more subjective. They certainly would not be doing as well here. They certainly could be doing better than what we have seen. Really hard to tell.

  • Dave

    If I had to pick the first person to be fired from the Browns, I’d fire Jimmy Haslem.

    I get the distinct impression Haslem doesn’t care, at all, if he wins. After all, having a lousy football team is cheaper than having a fantastic football team, he still gets to rake in the revenue share, and the Browns’ loyal fanbase for some reason continues to put up with his abysmal failures.

    Unfortunately, of course, he can’t be fired.

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  • master12345

    They can peaches, they can corn, they can tomatoes, they can tuna, the can can Jackson, too

  • master12345

    No one in the history of the NFL has been able to keep his job with such an egregiously losing record.

  • Thom D Smith

    Jackson is an ass and he threw his players under the bus in Oakland when they choked and didn’t make the playoffs.