Yesterday, after fielding a few questions at his weekly press conference, Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson treated us to quite the gem of a quote. Asked if he’s feeling any pressure from team owner Jimmy Haslam after starting another year 0-2, he said the following.
“I think Jimmy is a very patient person, understands where his team is, wants to win worse than anybody in this building and expects to win, but knowing that, ‘hey, this is where we are and we are going to get there.’”
Per Jackson, Jimmy Haslam is in fact ‘very patient.’
Yeah, about that…
Cleveland’s owner is known as many things, but few would use such a word to describe him. As a result, I would advise Jackson not assume Haslam will sit back and tolerate another year of going 1-15. Said move could result in an unpleasant meeting come season’s end.
I get this rebuild needs time, and that it’s impossible to expect the current iteration of the Browns to compete for anything more than third place in the AFC North. Jackson is working with a team made mostly of rookies and second-year players, pinning his hopes on a 21-year-old quarterback. It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s one which will at least take a couple seasons before we can actually see if it’s working.
At the same time, this in no way means Jackson should expect a long leash should the Browns put forth another year where winning more than one game is seen as some sort of an accomplishment.
Frankly, the concept of a “long leash” is extremely foreign to Haslam. This is an owner who made his first coaching hire in January of 2013, then proceed to fire said coach eleven months later. Since ousting Rob Chudzinski after his first season, Haslam has developed a reputation for having an itchy trigger finger. His claiming he wouldn’t blow up the front office before the 2015 campaign, then still doing so at the end of said season didn’t help matters.
Admittedly, keeping the status quo after last year’s miserable 1-15 offering really was against character for Cleveland’s owner. It was a slight admittance that he realized he needs to actually give the vision of his latest front office time to develop before hitting the reset button again.
Despite all of this, I would still encourage that Jackson avoid feeling too comfortable, especially if the losses keep piling up.
It’s been stated numerous times the goal of this season is to show progress. Considering how barren last year’s roster was, the final record wasn’t terribly surprising. This season, however, is where we’re finally supposed to be seeing things trend in an upward direction. We need to have tangible proof this new regime’s game plan can work. While nobody in their right mind would expect a playoff season in Cleveland this year, we at least need to know this team is only a few more players away from being consistently competitive.
Things appeared to look promising after a hard-fought Week 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, only to take a mammoth step back in a turnover-laden, deflating defeat to the Baltimore Ravens. After both games, Jackson insisted the wins were coming. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. Either way, Jackson can’t assume his job is safe if there continues to be a zero in the win column.
If you’re to believe Haslam (part of me does), he really does want to turn the Browns into a winning team. He also appears to realize the error in his ways when it comes to not giving his front offices enough time to develop an effective strategy.
At the same time, he, like the rest of us, will grow tired of being promised wins if they aren’t actually happening. If the Browns are 0-8 or 0-9, and Jackson continues his “victories are right around the corner” routine, it will begin to fall on deaf ears. This will be the case in the locker room, in the stands and especially in the front office.
Which is why I would hope Jackson realizes he can’t just claim wins are in the near future, he has to make sure this actually becomes a reality.
He certainly seems to have a great opportunity to do so in the coming weeks. Cleveland has three straight games against teams which have yet to win a game this season. Two or three wins in this span would go a long way towards proving the Browns are indeed nearing the light at the end of the tunnel.
However, should Cleveland come limping out of this portion of the schedule with one or – God forbid – zero wins, Jackson is going to quickly learn just how patient Haslam really is.
I highly doubt Cleveland’s owner wants to hit the reset button yet again. That said, resisting this urge will be difficult if he keeps being told victories are on the way despite results begging to differ.