Earlier this season, the above headline was a little more specific. After watching Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson give a masterclass in how to ruin a rookie quarterback, I was convinced DeShone Kizer would never succeed under his watch.
Now, after seeing this team achieve a record of futility only accomplished by one other franchise in NFL history, I’m now convinced this goes even further than a single position. Simply put, the Browns will never become a winning franchise as long as Jackson is still around.
Unsurprisingly, this opinion is one many others believe as fact. The problem is one of the few who disagrees is the team’s owner.
Jimmy Haslam remains steadfast in his support for a coach with a 1-31 record in the past two years. After the Browns finished up their 0-16 season Sunday, he confidently proclaimed Jackson would return, as if it’d be stupid to consider any other scenario. Haslam scoffed at obvious evidence against this idiotic strategy, reaffirming his belief Jackson is the man who can get this team to the playoffs (remember those?).
I, like many others, find such a statement laughable. The reason is simple – what has Jackson done in the past two years to convince anyone he deserves a third year?
Whatever it is, it certainly hasn’t been seen on the field. Jackson has coached this team to one victory in two years, and it occurred on a shanked last-second field goal. After finishing with a 1-15 record in 2016, Jackson regressed the following season despite such a thing seeming statistically impossible.
If you’re still looking for solid reasoning for Jackson getting a third year, you won’t find it in the locker room.
There, you’ll instead come across players who aren’t thrilled about their coach constantly whining to the media about the lack of talent he has to work with. Cornerback Jason McCourty and running back Duke Johnson sounded off at season’s end, rightfully claiming they were tired of hearing about how it’s impossible to win with the roster as currently constructed. Apparently, such complaints aren’t well-received by players.
What a shock.
Clearly there must be some reason why Haslam would confidently proclaim his faith in Jackson. Maybe it’s the coach’s reputation as a “quarterback whisperer.”
Oh, wait. This would imply any QB Jackson has worked with in Cleveland has shown the slightest bit of progress. Anyone who’s watched his attempts to groom a quarterback knows this hasn’t even come close to happening.
Jackson insisted we trust him when the Browns’ front office over-drafted Cody Kessler in 2016. He then spent the next offseason hinting the former USC Trojan didn’t have the ideal size of a franchise quarterback.
This, however, was nothing compared to what Jackson did to Kizer this year.
After claiming he could get everything out of the Notre Dame standout, Jackson instead set him up to fail. Kizer was thrown to the wolves, and then under the bus. Jackson yanked him mid-game multiple times, benched him for a week, refused to set up game-plans to help him succeed and eventually questioned if the 21-year-old would ever “get it.” Believe it or not, this resulted in Kizer putting forth a miserable rookie campaign.
And yet, even though the aforementioned issues are glaringly obvious to anyone who even casually glanced at this train-wreck of a football team over the past two years, Jackson kept his job. A man who may have single-handedly ruined his latest rookie quarterback is now being trusted to develop whichever signal-caller the Browns select in the first round of the upcoming draft.
How can anyone witness what Jackson has done over the past two years and even remotely see him as someone who can turn this team around? How is it possible to see anything but more losing on the horizon for his third year as Cleveland’s coach?
Unfortunately, Haslam disagrees, and this highlights one of the biggest reasons why nothing good will come from Jackson being given another season.
What this refusal to send Jackson packing shows us is just how much influence this consistently losing coach has over the owner of the team. Haslam was asked why he would keep Jackson despite his only winning once in the past two years, despite his constantly (and publicly) members of the team and despite the fact the number of players who’ve developed under his watch can be counted on one hand. He said yes, and did so in a tone which implied he was surprised to be asked in the first place.
Haslam’s blind faith in his only celebrated hire will surely result in more losing. When he finally wakes up to this and sends Jackson packing, he’ll make the realization we all did well in advance.
This Browns team will never succeed with Jackson.