2:34pm: The Browns have officially announced the hiring of Jackson in a press release. The team’s new head coach will arrive in town today and meet with reporters tonight at 5:30pm CT.
“[Jackson] is highly experienced, deeply passionate about winning, and relentless in trying to find ways to put his players in the best position to succeed,” owner Jimmy Haslam said in a statement. “He possesses that unique ability to reach the entire locker room in a way that demands accountability while getting the buy-in and team-first mentality that leads to positive results. I think our players will love playing for him.”
11:59am: Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is heading to a division rival, and will become the next head coach of the Browns, reports Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). Jackson confirms the move to Michael Silver of NFL Media, telling Silver that Cleveland “made me feel comfortable” (Twitter link).
[RELATED: Browns add Paul DePodesta to front office]
Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter links) was the first to report that Jackson and the Browns were working on finalizing a deal. According to Schefter, the Browns will lock up the former Raiders head coach before he gets on a flight to New York — Jackson had been scheduled to interview with the Giants today or tomorrow.
Since 2003, Jackson has held four separate offensive coordinator jobs, in Washington, Atlanta, Oakland, and Cincinnati. He also served as a position coach for several of those clubs, as well as the Ravens, where he coached the quarterbacks in 2008 and 2009.
Jackson’s only previous shot at a head coaching job came in 2011, when he led the Raiders to an 8-8 record. Despite the respectable result, Jackson was let go after one season when Oakland hired GM Reggie McKenzie, who preferred to bring in his own head coach.
Although he also drew interest from the 49ers and the Giants, Jackson was pursued most aggressively by the Browns, who made a “big push” this week to land him. Although the organization has a reputation as a dysfunctional one, and there’s some skepticism about how the new analytics-oriented front office will perform, the Cleveland job was somewhat appealing to candidates, since it came with more personnel say than some of the other head coaching positions around the NFL.
Jackson is expected to report directly to owner Jimmy Haslam, and will work with a front office that features Sashi Brown and former MLB executive Paul DePodesta. Neither Brown nor DePodesta have any real experience making NFL personnel decisions, and while Brown is expected to make the final call on those decisions, Jackson should have some level of influence over the team’s roster. For instance, Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (Twitter link) hears that Jackson “made it clear he’d want to move on” from Johnny Manziel.
With Jackson off the market, the Giants may turn to candidates like Mike Smith, Doug Marrone, or Ben McAdoo for their head coaching vacancy, while the 49ers – who reportedly backed off on their pursuit of Jackson yesterday – figure to consider Chip Kelly, Dirk Koetter, and Tom Coughlin, among others. Earlier today, I checked in with those head coaching searches to see where they stood.
The Browns are the second team this month to hire a new head coach, joining the Dolphins, who brought Adam Gase aboard.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.