Dorsey quietly taking aim at Jackson?
Jimmy Haslam III has assured Hue Jackson that he will be back as the Browns’ head coach next season.
John Dorsey was offered and accepted the job as the Browns’ general manager knowing that was going to be the case.
As a general rule around the National Football League, team owners grant general managers the right to name the head coach. Dorsey, whose only GM job in the NFL before Cleveland was in Kansas City, has never picked his own head coach.
The Chiefs promoted him to GM just a few weeks after hiring Andy Reid as the boss on the field. And now Haslam has all but granted Jackson a vote of confidence to rob Dorsey again of naming his man as coach.
Two teams as general manager and Dorsey is still looking to hire his first head coach. Something is wrong with this picture.
A rather odious aroma has attached itself to this story, one that makes it highly suspicious that Jackson, who has miraculously survived as 1-28 start in Cleveland, might be employed elsewhere next season.
The Cleveland coach Monday said he does not believe a Pro Football Report story that suggests Dorsey wants to name his own coach. “I don’t think that’s the case at all,” he said.
It is entirely possible Dorsey will spend a lot of time lobbying Haslam from now until the merciful end of this season in an effort to convince him the best way to change the culture with this franchise is to wish Jackson well as he departs.
Even though he took the job with the stipulation Jackson was going to get a year three in Cleveland, the new general manager cannot honestly believe the culture will change that much if Haslam remains firm.
As much as some of the players love Jackson and don’t want to see him go, the stigma of being the losingest coach ever in the NFL over a two-year span hovers like a perpetual dark cloud.
This team cannot even accidentally stumble into a victory. No matter how much he tries, the players perform just well enough to lose and Jackson still lugs around one victory in nearly two full seasons. That figure will never go away.
Maybe the players feel bad about their predicament. In some cases, a few might even feel embarrassed to be associated with the NFL’s ultimate losing franchise, one that has won just four times in the last 50 games.
This locker room needs new blood. A new approach. A new voice. A new outlook. A new energy.
Haslam owes Dorsey the opportunity to rebuild this franchise in his own image, an opportunity honed by more than 20 years of NFL experience. To do so with a coach not of his choosing is patently unfair.
Jackson is the first coach in the long history of the NFL to lose the first 13 games of the season two years in a row. It is a record that most likely will never be eclipsed.
By extension, that also means Haslam is the first owner in NFL history whose team lost the first 13 games of the season two straight years. How many more embarrassing moments must he experience with this coach before he acts responsibly?
Based on nothing more than a hunch, the guess here is Dorsey will lobby Haslam often and hard as he seeks to convince his new boss the best way to turn around this franchise is to jettison those who are a constant reminder of the bad old days.
A scenario that could possibly eventuate connects Jackson with the Cincinnati Bengals, for whom he coordinated the offense before accepting the ill-fated (as it has turned out) head-coaching job in Cleveland.
The Bengals are struggling at 5-8 this season and were just humiliated at home, 33-7, by the weak Chicago Bears last Sunday. To give you some idea how rough it has been in southern Ohio, two of the Bengals’ five victories this season were at the expense of, yep, the Browns.
Marvin Lewis, who has helmed the Bengals for 15 seasons, is getting plenty of heat and some have even forecast him moving either upstairs in the organization or completely out of the picture.
All of which would make Jackson an attractive candidate to succeed his good friend despite his miserable showing in Cleveland. Unless, of course, Haslam insists he stick around town for one more season, which might not play well with the fan base.
Too many ifs cloud the picture right now. But as soon as the season concludes on the last day of the year, some of those ifs will come more clearly into focus. If I’m Jackson, I’m going to be on tenterhooks until then wondering if his new boss somehow manages to talk Haslam out of extending my stay with this franchise.
On the other hand, it is entirely possible he feels somewhat emboldened by his ability to win the power struggle with Sashi Brown and seems to be on the same philosophical page as the new GM. Both are old-school football men in the ever-growing age of analytics.
But somehow, I can’t help but think Dorsey is quietly laying the groundwork to be in a position to finally choose his first head coach for a franchise that needs new blood in the locker room.
In order to do that, though, he must convince Haslam on a daily basis the only path to that goal is cashiering Jackson. The immediate future of this franchise rests on his success.