Throughout the past day, we’ve seen plenty of free agent quarterbacks get new deals. One of them – AJ McCarron – remains unsigned. Word is Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson tried to convince the front office to acquire the former Cincinnati Bengal backup, but was ultimately denied last Friday when new GM John Dorsey instead traded for Tyrod Taylor.
In passing on McCarron – a decidedly average QB the Browns almost traded two draft picks for last fall – Dorsey very clearly laid out how things are going to work for this team moving forward. He refused to buckle to Jackson’s wishes, but also made moves to remove excuses Cleveland’s coach has been throwing out since last season.
If anything, the trades Dorsey has been making since arriving with the Browns should be seen as a warning sign to Jackson. Simply put, Cleveland’s embattled coach isn’t running the show anymore, and also no longer has any defenses for not winning games. As a result, he needs to get his act together in a big way this season.
Remember, as free agency approached, everyone just assumed McCarron would end up in Cleveland. Jackson has hardly been subtle about his appreciation for him, and was reportedly the driving force behind the botched trade from last year. However, instead of following through with this move, Dorsey traded for Taylor.
In Taylor, Dorsey got Jackson a proven veteran quarterback to hold down the fort this season. He also brought in a three-time Pro Bowl receiver in Jarvis Landry to pair with Josh Gordon and vastly improve the wideout corps. The Browns still left the weekend with an absorbent amount of cap space and five picks in the first two rounds of the upcoming draft.
Essentially, the days of piling up assets for the future have officially ended. Draft picks are no longer being prioritized over talent, and the front office appears to be far less interested in trying to set an NFL record for most unused cap space.
This, of course, was the focus of the former Browns regime, headed by Sashi Brown. The flaws in his approach made him an easy target for Jackson, who spent much of last season complaining about not having enough talent to win games or even make valiant attempts to do so.
Brown is gone now, meaning Jackson no longer has someone to immediately blame should things go awry this season. Thanks to the moves Dorsey is making to quickly improve the team, Cleveland’s coach also can no longer blame losses on a lack of available talent.
It’s all topped off with the fact Dorsey targeting Taylor as opposed to throwing a pricey contract at McCarron proves his focus is on improving the team, not bowing to the wishes of a coach with a 1-31 record.
All in all, Cleveland’s new front office is ramping up the pressure on Jackson. Dorsey and company aren’t meeting his demands, but they also aren’t ignoring talent either. In the span of one weekend, Jackson learned he no longer has a pushover in the front office, yet can’t deflect criticism if he keeps losing because the team is no longer bereft of quality players.
Jackson doesn’t have to work with the glorified practice squad wideout group the team trotted out last season. He doesn’t have to rely on a quarterback without a single NFL win to his name. With plenty of cap space and draft picks, the level of talent is expected to increase. That these assets will be used by a front office now loaded with experience only makes this more likely.
Bottom line – if this team keeps losing, the only person to blame will be Jackson. Whatever power he’s had over the past two years, inexplicable as it was, is gone.
He’ll likely suffer the same fate if this team still struggles to win come this fall.