Browns head coach Hue Jackson created plenty of waves earlier this week when he suggested that he may take over play-calling duties from OC Todd Haley. And while Jackson quickly walked back those comments, he may have done serious damage to his chances of remaining in Cleveland.
Albert Breer of TheMMQB, who appeared on 92.3 The Fan on Wednesday, said, “I don’t think that [Jackson’s] comments went over all that well in certain corners of the building” (audio link). Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports agrees, going so far as to say that Jackson’s comments “flabbergasted and confounded” his coaching staff and players. Breer noted that team owner Jimmy Haslam and GM John Dorsey are prioritizing the development of No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield, and they are not very receptive to anything that may stunt his growth as a player. Although Cleveland’s offense has not been particularly good overall, Mayfield has shown enough flashes of brilliance to suggest that he can ultimately live up to his draft status.
Breer tweets that nothing has changed in the team’s offensive meetings rooms over the last week, so Haley is still running the show for now. However, Breer concedes that what happens after the team’s divisional contest against Pittsburgh this afternoon is uncertain, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com writes that change could be coming soon. Rapoport says that several people within the organization have “battled” to improve the working relationship between Jackson and Haley, but to no avail. He adds that if the two men cannot reconcile their differences, the team will likely make a move.
In fact, Rapoport suggests that Haley could be the one getting the ax, because while Jackson has compiled a horrible record while at the helm, he is still in charge, and Haley’s interactions with his boss may amount to insubordination. It would be surprising to see Haley fired before Jackson, but Rapoport indicates that option certainly remains on the table.
Even if both men survive the year, the Browns could go in a different direction at the end of the season. After all, Dorsey did not hire Jackson, and with Mayfield under center and a legitimate GM calling the shots, Cleveland may very well be a desirable destination for some of the top head coaching candidates next offseason, which is a rarity for the franchise.
One way or another, things could be coming to a head. It is just a shame that, even in a year that has seen real signs of improvement, the Browns still cannot seem to get out of their own way.
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