Hue Jackson is gone, but he’s not going quietly. He’s become the butt of jokes league-wide and despite my best efforts to hope for some more nuance, Jackson is taking an unmerciful beating to what I feel is an unreasonable degree. This is my version of the obituary for Hue Jackson’s tenure. I’m going to try and achieve the proper amount of defense and blame. Like most things in life it’s not up or down, black or white, or 100-percent positive or negative.
I would never say that Hue Jackson should have kept his job. I would never say that Hue Jackson did a good job as a coach. All I’ve ever looked for was some fairness to the conversation. I probably go too far in blaming Sashi Brown, which frequently looks like a defense of Hue Jackson. That blaming of Sashi Brown probably does serve to let Hue Jackson too much off the hook. It probably also provides unreasonable cover to Jimmy Haslam, who is ultimately responsible for everything that happens. The point is that when I’m arguing about Hue Jackson, it’s not so much to defend Hue, but to make sure that just because he’s the second domino to fall that we look at him as part of a wider story-line.
Hue Jackson was hired prior to the free agency period that saw the Browns lose every free agent other than Tank Carder. Mitchell Schwartz, Alex Mack, Tashaun Gipson, Travis Benjamin, and others all left. Schwartz ended up signing an under-market deal. I am sure that Hue Jackson was on board for a rebuild, but I’m confident in saying that’s a far cry from co-signing to each and every transaction that saw all the free agents leave.
There are many soundbites of Hue Jackson talking up the likes of RG3, Cody Kessler and DeShone Kizer and other failed signings and draft picks. I’ve seen many in the media and on Twitter use these sound clips as definitive proof that Hue Jackson was on board with the personnel decisions that the team made. I think that’s totally unfair. The only facts we know for sure is that Hue Jackson didn’t have roster control and that he’s contractually mandated to speak in front of the media and answer questions all the time as a head coach. Given those two indisputable facts, what’s he supposed to say about Kessler, for example?
It’s not the things that Hue Jackson had to say that got him into trouble. It’s the things he didn’t have to say that did him in. Where Hue loses all credibility is when he throws Isaiah Crowell under the bus, devaluing a big run in a game. Hue gets himself into trouble because he foolishly and laughably abandoned the run each and every week with a rookie second-round quarterback in DeShone Kizer under center. Hue loses all credibility when he says he doesn’t remember carrying more timeouts into halftime than any coach I can ever remember.
Hue Jackson wasn’t a good coach here. He probably was never going to be a great coach no matter what. I thought for sure he could at least be Jeff Fisher-ish for the Cleveland Browns. I have no doubt that Hue Jackson could have been better in a different situation with a better owner and personnel department. He never would have been good enough, however, so it’s fine that he is out now. The point is that I’ll always have a little bit of sympathy for Hue Jackson. Yes, he’s going to go down as having one of the worst records in the history of the game, but even if he’d done the best job he could possibly have done, it would have been awful.
Hue Jackson was always charged with digging his own grave, but he decided to throw away the shovel use his bare hands. Ladies and gentlemen, The Hue Jackson Era.