I’m not quite sure you could write a more obvious headline.
Hue Jackson, currently boasting a 1-27 record as coach of the Cleveland Browns, has hardly earned any sort of endorsement from ownership. His behavior over the past few weeks has only hammered home this statement.
Yet, here we are. Fresh off firing executive VP Sashi Brown and hiring new GM John Dorsey, owner Jimmy Haslam confirmed Cleveland will keep its coach heading into 2018 no matter what. Despite Jackson’s insisting otherwise, it’s clear he won the ongoing power struggle with the front office.
Telling a coach who could still potentially go winless this season his position is secure next year is certainly a powerful statement from ownership. If you ask me, though, Haslam still has no excuse to be this protective of Jackson.
The most obvious reason has already been stated.
Jackson only has one win during his time in Cleveland. Throughout this year and last, he’s made alarmingly bad in-game decisions. He’s claimed his team isn’t talented enough numerous times, taking clear shots at the players he’s expected to lead. Top it off with the fact Jackson may have destroyed any chance of rookie QB DeShone Kizer ever succeeding thanks to some of the worst grooming we’ve ever seen, and you have more than enough reason to question why Jackson has any sort of job security whatsoever.
Not only is Jackson being endorsed despite the aforementioned issues, he’s also being endorsed despite refusing to accept blame for any of them.
If you asked him, he’d tell you the putrid record and constant regressing was all Brown’s fault. Jackson has shown no hesitation to blame his higher-ups for the fact the team he coaches can’t win. He waxed poetically about this even after Brown was fired yesterday.
You wouldn’t be wrong to question why someone who shows no hesitation to throw others – including his own players – under the bus to save his own skin would be given such strong backing from Haslam. Not only does keeping Jackson around through next year reward the disastrous on-field results, it also rewards his pathetic behavior. He now knows if there’s any sort of power struggle with Dorsey, he can just go around his back and air his grievances with Haslam.
The questions don’t just end with the endorsement alone, though. Jackson may feel secure today, but this certainly doesn’t eliminate some major “what ifs.”
For instance, what if he goes 0-16 this season? You’re telling me Jackson can go through the 2016 season netting only one victory, then get worse and still have a guaranteed job?
What if he clashes with Dorsey? The two of them have never worked together before, and though the new GM seems to be Jackson’s coveted “football guy,” this certainly doesn’t mean the two of them will get along.
Is Jackson going to blame Dorsey for losses just as he did Brown? Is he going to keep up his trend of whispering in Haslam’s ear any time he doesn’t get his way, especially now that such behavior has been endorsed?
Additionally, what happens if the on-field struggles continue into next season. Will Jackson still have a full leash should he start the season 0-2? 0-4? 0-6?
If this were to take place, not only would Brown no longer be there to blame for the losses, Jackson’s new GM wouldn’t have any allegiance to him. Therefore, Dorsey would have no issue telling Haslam he’d like to pick his own coach to work with.
If such an outcome happens, all it’ll be is yet another setback for a franchise which has long since passed the time when it could afford them.
As you can see, there are way too many reasons to question why Jackson is still getting so much backing from Haslam. For the coach’s sake, he better start showing progress sooner rather than later. Haslam has made promises to keep the status quo before, and it’s never ended well.
Casey Drottar is an independent sports writer. Subscribe to his podcast, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook