At this point, the Cleveland Browns might be more entertaining off the field than they are when on it.
Sundays in Cleveland have become relatively mundane and predictable. The Browns play, may put up a fight at times, but will eventually lose. Rinse, repeat.
It’s the other days of the week where we’re seeing far more drama with the team. Failed trades, reporters publishing cranky emails from coaches, quarterback changes. We’ve seen it all from Cleveland over the past few weeks, and as frustrating as it’s been for fans, you can’t deny it’s kept our attention far better than the on-field product.
Lately, many of the mid-week highlights are coming from coach Hue Jackson‘s press conferences. This is mainly due to the fact we’ve been seeing two very clear developments from these sessions.
First, Jackson is showing no fear in taking subtle shots at the front office. As a result, we’re getting more and more evidence he simply can’t coexist with Cleveland’s higher ups.
Jackson’s has voiced his displeasure with the hand the front office has dealt him before. Dating back to the October 29 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland’s coach began hammering home his belief his team needs to play perfect football in order to ever win a game. This is certainly an unsubtle jab at the higher ups for handing him a roster full of holes and inexperience. He once again made this comment yesterday, refusing to back down from his belief even the slightest mistake could potentially derail this young team.
If Jackson’s comments were limited solely to these critiques of the roster, one would assume there’s just a little friction between he and executive VP Sashi Brown. However, it’s what Jackson refuses to say about his relationship with the front office which keeps implying they may never see eye to eye.
Just as he did two weeks ago, Jackson spent a good chunk of yesterday’s presser deflecting any chance to endorse the process the front office has put together. Whenever the subject was brought up, he continuously claimed it wasn’t his job to talk about the plan. In total, Jackson was given five chances to simply answer whether or not he felt Brown’s strategy was working. He denied every single one, getting more and more frustrated with each non-answer.
In refusing to comment on the plan of the higher ups, Jackson is implying he didn’t have much say in it to begin with. On top of this, it’s also an implication he hasn’t bought in on it, either.
What’s odd, though, is the fact Jackson is still always quick to commend owner Jimmy Haslam. He did so again yesterday when discussing the closed-door meeting Haslam and his wife Dee had with himself and a few players viewed as team leaders. When discussing this, Jackson had no issue talking about how badly Haslam wants to win and how much he believes in him.
When asked about Brown and his rebuild, Jackson would prefer you change the subject.
It just continues to highlight the power struggle currently going on within the team facility. We’re a couple weeks removed from Jackson refusing to pretend the relationship between himself and Brown is in a good spot, and now we’re seeing him vehemently deflect the chance to endorse the strategy of the front office.
It’s tough to see this act from Jackson and not think his relationship with the front office is broken beyond repair. His quickness to praise Haslam makes it seem as though he’s trying to protect himself by speaking highly of the owner. Likewise, in refusing to say anything positive regarding his relationship with Brown, Jackson is distancing himself while at the same time deflecting any blame for the team’s 0-10 start.
We’ve seen previous Cleveland regimes go through nasty power struggles. However, this is the first time in which one side is making their displeasure of the other so public. To me, it seems as though Jackson believes he’s in Haslam’s good graces, enough so that he can comfortably separate himself from Brown under the assumption he won’t have to deal with him much longer.
It’s still too early to tell if anyone is safe from another Haslam housecleaning. All we do know is rumors of a rift in Cleveland sure appear to be true. If you didn’t believe it before, Jackson has since gone out of his way to erase the doubt.