We’re a couple weeks removed from Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam proclaiming coach Hue Jackson will be back next season regardless of how the current one ends. At this point, I assume Jackson is trying to convince Haslam to change his mind.
How else can you explain his behavior since being given his unearned job security? Since that day, he’s continued piling on former executive VP Sashi Brown, shrugged off any responsibility for his 0-14 record and questioned whether his 21-year-old rookie quarterback will ever “get it.”
If this wasn’t enough proof Haslam should revoke his pledge to keep his coach around next year, we just received even more. During today’s press conference, Jackson took a blatant shot at running back Isaiah Crowell. With it, he not only proved he won’t hesitate to publicly throw others under the bus, but provided more evidence he shouldn’t be anywhere near this team beyond the end of the year.
To set the stage, Jackson came under fire after last week’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens, specifically for his refusal to run the ball. Despite Cleveland’s only touchdown coming off a drive with zero pass plays, which was kicked off by a monster 59-yard run by Crowell, the ground game was abandoned as soon as Baltimore took back the lead.
Jackson’s (weak) defense of this was he simply wasn’t inspired enough to keep running the ball. Today, he was asked an obvious question – how could a 59-yard run not be enough inspiration to keep pounding the ball on the ground? The answer, per Jackson, was said play really wasn’t that impressive.
You see, Crowell only gained a huge chunk of yardage because the hole was so big. This isn’t inspiring. Inspiring, per Jackson, is seeing a running back break tackles. Since the Browns dialed up the same play later in the game, resulting in a two-yard loss, this was enough proof running the ball didn’t make sense any more.
Beyond the fact this explanation is idiotic to say the least, consider how this is received by Crowell.
After spending a season wondering why he’s not getting the ball more despite the running game being the only remotely reliable aspect of Cleveland’s offense, and despite being the main reason the team scored its only touchdown last week, his coach just isn’t inspired. Sure, Crowell finished Sunday’s game with an average yards per carry of 14.4, but he wasn’t breaking any tackles, so why give him the ball?
Crowell literally contributed the longest play from scrimmage the Browns offense has pulled off this entire season. And here’s Hue Jackson to tell you why it really wasn’t that big of a deal.
How is this man allowed to coach this team? More importantly, how have we not yet seen the Browns stage a walkout?
Jackson would much rather trash his own players – to the media, no less – than accept blame for bad decisions. What he should’ve done was simply admit his game-plan was flawed, that he should’ve called more running plays. Lesson learned, moving on.
Instead, Jackson took the time to publicly discredit Crowell. He put a concerted effort into explaining why we shouldn’t assume a 59-yard run merits more carries. He then called Crowell out for not breaking enough tackles, claiming this was why he stopped giving him the ball. This belief was solidified when he didn’t rip off another huge gain once the play was dialed up again.
Taking this time to remind you, once again, that Haslam wants Jackson in Cleveland for next year and beyond.
How this continues to happen without consequence is as mystifying as it is appalling. Jackson is more than content with dumping on anyone – players or members of the front office – in attempt to make himself look better. This routine has gotten less and less subtle throughout the year, with today’s example being one of the bluntest instances.
Jackson took pot shots at the front office, and somehow this helped him win the power struggle there. What he hopes to gain by calling out his own players, though, remains a mystery. What he’s doing is incredibly damaging to whatever goodwill he may have had within the locker room. In today’s comments, Jackson put his team on notice, letting everyone know he won’t hesitate to undermine their achievements if it means saving his own skin.
I refuse to believe this is lost on Haslam. He may have given Jackson job security a few weeks ago, but everything his coach has done since is proof it should be revoked.
Oh, and if you’re wondering whether or not these comments were lost on Crowell…
Casey Drottar is an independent sports writer. Subscribe to his podcast, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook