In the wake of one of the most puzzling and thoughtless decisions ever made by an owner of the Cleveland Browns, life nevertheless moves on.
Jimmy Haslam III professes he has retained what National Football League history proves is the worst head coach in its nearly century-long history for the fans.
Never mind that Hue Jackson has brought a culture to the Cleveland sports scene that embarrasses not only the team for which he is paid rather handsomely to coach, but the community as well.
He has so angered a segment of his diminishing fan base, he can expect a significant and angry blowback for his latest blunder, one with which he strangely seems comfortable.
He will begin to feel the pain when it comes to selling season tickets. He owns he most embarrassing product in the NFL. And now that Jackson has been brought back, he’ll feel it probably sooner than he thinks. His reasoning behind the non-move has not been received well in Browns Nation.
The owner has blundered enough where the “we trust in Jimmy” cries no longer carry much weight. He is out on a ledge right now without much help.
When trying to understand why Haslam has chosen to stay with this loser coach, only one plausible possibility comes to mind and even that does not pass the sniff test.
Haslam has hired and fired so many front-office people in his six years as the Browns’ owner, he has compiled so much so-called dead money, he is determined to slam the door on wasting any more of that money.
In other words, Haslam is punishing himself for unwise decisions made in that relatively brief period by retaining one of most grievous mistakes in that span, that being the hiring of Jackson.
Basically, he is saying no more. I hired this guy for four years and by god, he will get at least a third, his record be damned. I don’t care if he has won just one game in two years.
He is saying to the fans, couching his words carefully as not to offend Jackson, his coach will eventually be their hero. Just wait and see.
It sounds as though Haslam is trying to convince himself that making no move at this time is the correct move. It is reminiscent of when Mike Holmgren took over the front office in 2010 and retained the mediocre Eric Mangini as his head coach.
The Browns under Mangini won only one of the first 12 games in 2009, then finished out with four straight victories to wind up a respectable (relatively speaking compared to current history) 5-11.
Holmgren realized his mistake the following season when Mangini’s Browns flirted with mediocrity with a 5-7 record after a dozen games only to lose the final four for another 5-11 slate and he received an invite to leave.
Haslam, to a certain extent, is repeating history and it will cost him in ways that will affect the bottom line. Not that it bothers him that much with the nice income provided by the league via television revenue.
No, this latest non-move will cost him in the reputation department. Browns fans believed getting rid of Randy Lerner was the best thing that could happen to this franchise.
Haslam was a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers at the time and one would have thought he would import the Steeler Way when he arrived in Cleveland. If anything, it has been the opposite.
In the six years since he plunked down a billion dollars to purchase the Browns, the club’s record is 20-76, a winning percentage of .208. In the last four seasons, the Browns are 4-46. The antithesis of the Steeler Way.
Haslam seems to have adopted Lerner’s Way of conducting his NFL business by making one wrong move after another for the wrong reasons, his latest bungling the retention of Jackson.
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There’s a rumor making the rounds that new General Manager John Dorsey, not Jackson, has control of the coaching staff and that changes are lurking around the corner.
If any side of the football needs help, it is clearly the offense. And we know who was in charge of that offensive offense. Many of that crew are buddies of Jackson.
If one of the stipulations of Dorsey taking the GM job was control of the coaching staff, Jackson might not like who he has to work with next season. It’s pretty much a given he won’t be the offensive coordinator.
In clearly a presupposing way, it is possible Dorsey and Jackson will engage in a clash of philosophies that could lead to a confrontation Dorsey will win if it ever reaches Haslam’s office.
From the island of wishful thinking: That could be Dorsey’s way of getting what he wants and that’s Jackson’s departure so he could build the club in his own image with the head coach of his choice, not the owners’.
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Someone much wiser than I once said, “Some coaches are generals; some coaches are lieutenants.” In other words, not all assistant coaches are successful as head coaches.
Bill Belichick, Bill Cowher, Andy Reid, Chuck Noll, Bill and Don Shula, all former assistants, are/were generals. Hue Jackson is a lieutenant. There are many, many more lieutenants than generals.
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Many interesting numbers in the final stats this season as opposed to last season.
For example, the Browns were significantly improved in the trenches with regard to rushing and protecting quarterbacks. Last season, the offensive line gave up a club-record 66 sacks. The new unit surrendered 50 this season. Thirteen of those sacks were recorded by the Steelers.
As for making life miserable for opposing quarterbacks, the Browns had a modest improvement of just 26 last season to 34 this season. Rookie defensive end Myles Garrett led the way with seven playing a little more than half the season.
Miscellaneous stats: Joe Schobert, playing middle linebacker for the first time, led the team in total tackles (144), solo tackles (88) and assists (56). Fellow linebacker Christian Kirksey was a close second in all three categories. . . . Duke Johnson Jr. was easily the busiest receiver with 74 receptions, 693 yards and three touchdowns. Tight ends Seth DeValve and David Njoku combined for 65 catches, 767 yards and five scores. . . . Isaiah Crowell was the leading ground gainer with 853 yards, but only two touchdowns. Quarterback DeShone Kizer was next with 419 yards and five touchdowns, Johnson added 348 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Johnson had 156 total touches for 1,041 yards, an average of 6.67 yards per touch. . . . Kizer connected on only 53.6% of his passes for 2,894 yards, 11 touchdowns and a league-leading 22 interceptions, He was sacked 38 times.. . . . The club intercepted only seven passes all season, Jason McCourty leading the way with three. . . . In the important turnover ratio, the Browns were a league-low -28. Last season, they were only -12. . . . Punter Britton Colquitt was terrific with a 47.6-yard average, 24 of his 80 punts landing inside the 20, just two touchbacks and one block on the first series of the season against Pittsburgh. . . . The return game was disappointing, establishing very little good field position for the offense.
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Finally . . . Four members of the offensive line played every game. The lone exception was Joe Thomas, who would have if hadn’t torn his left triceps muscle halfway through the season. . . . It took him the better part of two seasons to show up, but it was nice to see wide receiver Rashard Higgins emerge in the season finale against the Steelers with three grabs for 68 yards and a pair of scores. . . . Jabrill Peppers’ interception against the Steelers was the Browns; first takeaway in six games. . . . The Browns owned the football for nearly 13 minutes of the third quarter against Pittsburgh. JuJu Smith-Schuster’s 96-yard kickoff return provided the only offense the Steelers needed. Smith-Schuster, by the way, was Cody Kessler’s and Sam Darnold’s favorite receiver at USC.