Hue Jackson won three times in 40 games as head coach of the Browns, but claims he was fired prematurely Monday by the Cleveland organization.
At 3-36-1, Jackson had a winning percentage of .088. General manager John Dorsey and owner Jimmy Haslam announced that they were moving on from Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
“The fact that we played four overtime games (this year) 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. “So I do believe the move (to let him go) was premature. But I think a part of the problem again went back to the first two years.”
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, a signal he wasn’t on the same page with the coach or Haslam.
Jackson said Friday he went around ownership to try to save his offense, feeling during the 2018 season it was his only chance to resurrect a group that ranks in the bottom 10 in the league in points per game. Jackson said Friday on “First Take” he is culpable for the final results.
“You’re making sure you cross the Ts and dot the Is,” Jackson said. “At the end of the day, what’s most important is we just didn’t get it done on offense.”
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.”
“The problem was that the analytics and football (people) were not on the same page on who the premium players were and what their value to a football team would be,” Jackson said of the team’s approach to personnel under Brown. “This was more a people problem of collaboration than just an analytics problem. We were getting worse as a team - and the NFL is set up for bad teams to get better not worse.’’
Jackson said he believes the foundation is in place for the next coach — interim head coach Gregg Williams or a potential replacement — to win big. Jackson said doing so won’t be easy, as winning with the Browns would be the “Mount Everest of the NFL.”
“I believe the constant changes only compound the difficulties for the next person to have the time and patience to be successful. I strongly believe that I did a lot of work in a short time of laying the foundation for turning the place around,” Jackson said. “It’s unfortunate that they took the approach they did the first two years because those were two years that I couldn’t get back from a record and value standpoint.”
Jackson said he knows he is a good football coach and expects another job to present itself.
“I still think there’s another opportunity out there. I want to go back and be a coordinator,” he said.
—Field Level Media