Hue Jackson won three times in 40 games as head coach of the Cleveland Browns, but he claims he was fired prematurely Monday when general manager John Dorsey and owner Jimmy Haslam announced that they were moving on from him and offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
“The fact that we played four overtime games (this season) says that we were a better football team. In my mind, if we fix the offense — it’s a totally different story,” Jackson said in an interview with Cleveland.com on Friday. “So I do believe the move (to fire Jackson) was premature. But I think a part of the problem again went back to the first two years (when the Browns went a combined 1-31).”
Jackson reported to ownership during his tenure, but faulted former general manager Sashi Brown — who was promoted from an analytics role to be a first-time personnel boss — for digging the Browns a massive roster hole to dig out of the past two years. Dorsey was hired in December 2017 to replace Brown and gave only a tepid endorsement of Jackson.
Haslam said Monday that internal discord, in addition to the poor results on the field, led to the decision to fire Jackson midseason. Jackson on Friday denied he was throwing anyone “under the bus” by saying Haley had total control of the offense. Jackson also pointed directly to Brown and the personnel department passing on multiple quarterbacks — Carson Wentz and Patrick Mahomes in particular — as a setback for the franchise. But he also said 2018 No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield is on his way to being a “sensational player.”
—On the heels of a 34-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers and little-known third-string quarterback Nick Mullens, Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden reiterated his mission with the on-the-move franchise.
“The Oakland Raiders is a great organization. I know it’s not looking pretty right now,” Gruden said. “I’ve heard a lot of negativity over the last six or seven months, and rightfully so. But we’re going to build a championship football team here. I know a lot of people as players, as fans, just in general, want to be a part of this.”
Since the end of training camp, the Raiders have parted with a pair of top-five draft picks — outside linebacker Khalil Mack and wide receiver Amari Cooper — which could be perceived by players in the locker room as a white flag on the 2018 season. Many media types and some former players took to social media on Thursday night to make the claim that Gruden’s roster returned serve, quitting on the coach at midseason.
—San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan plans to take the weekend to decide which way he wants to go at quarterback next week.
In the aftermath of a surprisingly strong performance from Mullens in his first career start Thursday, the 2017 undrafted free agent appears to have a leg up on second-year quarterback C.J. Beathard. Mullens completed 16 of 22 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns with Beathard scratched due to a wrist injury.
Beathard was filling in for Jimmy Garoppolo, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. Beathard’s status will be a factor in next week’s decision at quarterback. According to reports, he was unable to grip the football and couldn’t get ready on a short week for the Thursday night game. Mullens’ 151.9 passer rating was a record for a player making his NFL debut.
—Former Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt will see his name placed in the team’s Ring of Honor, owner Jerry Jones announced on Friday. Brandt will become the 22nd member of the esteemed group in a halftime ceremony on Nov. 29 when the Cowboys meet the New Orleans Saints at AT&T Stadium. Part of the staff of the expansion Cowboys in 1960, Brandt will join founding team president Tex Schramm and the first head coach, Tom Landry, as the non-players in the Ring of Honor.
“When Jerry called me with the news, it was on par with walking off the field after winning the Super Bowl,” said Brandt, who worked in the Cowboys’ front office for 29 seasons. In fact, 15 of the 19 players in the Ring of Honor were acquired by Brandt either through a trade or the draft. All 15 are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, starting with his 1964 draft class of Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes and Mel Renfro.
“I hope my heart and legs will be strong enough to survive that moment,” Brandt, 85, said about the moment he will be inducted into the Ring of Honor. “To see my name up there with guys like Roger Staubach, Bob Lilly, Drew Pearson, Lee Roy Jordan — these all-time greats not only with the Cowboys franchise but in the history of our great game — it overwhelms me.”
—Field Level Media