Yesterday’s press conference with Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson – his first since the team opened another season with yet another lame-duck loss – had it all.
There was Jackson saying he felt horrible after the defeat. There was symbolism in the form of him apparently having his players crumple up paper and throw it behind them to imply Week 1 is in the past. There was even some good ol’ fashioned podium-pounding.
It’s what Jackson said while hammering his fist down in front of him which seems to have caught everyone’s attention. Just one week into his first season as Cleveland’s coach, he went out and guaranteed something Browns fans haven’t seen since 1964.
“I am going to do the best job that I can with our staff and these players, and we are going to keep working at it,” Jackson said. “My point is eventually they will love me because we are going to win, and we are going to win a championship here for the Cleveland Browns.”
Well, OK then.
To his credit, Jackson was wise enough not to give any sort of timeline on just when exactly he and his team will collectively raise the Vince Lombardi trophy. Still, his first year with Cleveland is barely a week old, and he’s already setting the bar as high as it can possibly go. For obvious reasons, the odds are stacked quite highly against him.
Say what you want about Jackson, but you certainly can’t cite him for any lack of confidence. After getting blown out in his first game as Cleveland’s coach, then placing Robert Griffin III – the QB he hand-picked to lead the Browns this year – on IR, you certainly wouldn’t fault him for being a little shaken off his game. But, no, clearly the events of this week had zero effect on his positive beliefs. Despite a consensus national belief that Cleveland is once again heading in the wrong direction, Jackson feels as though a Super Bowl is on the horizon.
Whether or not you think he’s right is up to you. I’m sure more than a few people – both within the city and outside it – got a good laugh at such a claim.
However, with this statement made, Jackson has now laid down the gauntlet. There he was, days after a loss which had the entire NFL world mocking his team, and he goes out and says the Browns are eventually going to win a championship.
Nobody would honestly expect it this year, so there’s no point in going crazy there. At the same time, when you set expectations that high, there’s going to have to be at least some indication the team is heading in the right direction come season’s end.
As a friendly reminder, Jackson works for an owner who doesn’t like waiting around for success. He’s promised to be a little more patient, but the longer the Browns go without showing progress, the less chance Jackson gives himself of sticking around. This is especially so when he claims Cleveland will eventually be a championship-caliber club.
I don’t want to imply Jackson voluntarily placed himself on the hot seat by following a dud of a season-opener with a Super Bowl promise. This roster still has a ton of developing to do, something everyone in the front office seems to be aligned with.
That said, Jackson has now told both fans and media what to expect during his time as Cleveland’s coach. It’s quite a goal, one we know every coach sets for himself. It’s also one that, when stated this emphatically, could be thrown back in Jackson’s face should this new regime see the same results as all the other failures before it.
After all, it’s not like anyone still mocks Mike Holmgren for saying “don’t come to me for extra tickets for a playoff game,” right?