Hue Jackson’s day-after-another-loss news conference earlier this week produced a surprising comment from the Browns’ head coach.
Asked bluntly whether this team can win with the current roster, the head coach replied with his usual candor with a nugget thrown in.
“I think this team can (win),” he said. “I think we’ve got to do some things better and work a little bit harder in making sure we do some of the detailed things right.”
Then came the head turner.
“That question you just asked,” he said. “That is something you’ve got to talk to Sashi (Brown) about and the executive team.”
Hmmmm. Might there be a rift brewing between the two most important branches of the family tree?
“My job is to coach the guys who are here with our football staff and that’s what we’re trying to do,” said Jackson. “I’m sure our executive team is scouring everywhere, looking at who could potentially help our team.”
Was this a thinly veiled swipe at Brown, the man with the final say of what the roster looks like? Placing someone as inexperienced as Brown in charge of such an important role is gambling at best.
The Browns need a veteran football man at the helm.. Someone who knows how to put together a competitive roster, a talented roster, a roster with the kind of talent that begets winning. There are a few of them out there on the NFL landscape with the kind of résumé this club needs.
The current regime came in and blew up the team in 2015 and began reconstructing it in its own image the last two seasons with even more reconstruction based on yet another bountiful draft class next spring.
The Browns have made 24 selections in the lottery the last two seasons with 12 more scheduled for next spring. That’s 36 possible new faces – not to mention free-agent signings – on this roster in a three-year period.
There were those among the hierarchy who obviously believed this team had reached rock bottom in 2015 and a roster purge was in order. That was to be the initial phase of a recovery. I’m fairly certain the front office knew 2016 would be difficult, but I’m sure it did not envision winning only one game
After the 10-man class this year, those in the Ivory Tower believed there was enough talent on a roster that was the youngest and least experienced in the National Football League that improvement was certain to follow.
Maybe it was blind optimism based on the notion it couldn’t be any worse this season than last season’s 1-15 disaster. But three games into the 2017 season, seeds of doubt are beginning to sprout following a trio of losses.
Expectations are not being met and it would appear fingers of guilt, a few more overt than others, are being pointed. Read into it what you want, but it sure seems as though Jackson is saying, “Hey, this isn’t my doing, not my fault. Look what I’ve been given to work with.”
Jackson at the same time is trying to hold his head above the fray and convey to his team he has not given up on them, nor should they give up on him. Forget what the record says. Focus on the next game.
“None of us likes losing,” he told the Cleveland media. “There is a human element we all deal with. Let’s be honest, that’s there. But this team is very resilient and I think they will keep working. I know they will. “
Of course they will. It’s their job. That’s what they get paid to do.
“At the end of the day,” Jackson said, “these guys are trying the best they can. What we have to do is continue to put them in situations so they can have success and get better.”
Somewhere up in the Ivory Palace, Jimmy Haslam III and his wife, Dee, are watching all this unfold. It will be interesting to see what develops from what seems to be a disagreement between those on the field and those in the front office.
Could a power play be shaping up? Maybe so. Then again, it is entirely possible this is being blown way out of proportion.
However this shakes out, one thing is certain: The drama never ends at 76 Lou Groza Blvd.