One of the biggest storylines heading into Thursday’s NFL Draft is how little we know about the Cleveland Browns‘ plans. This is mostly because GM John Dorsey is notorious for being very secretive about his draft plans, going so far as claiming he “goes dark” around this time of year.
However, media members aren’t the only ones being shielded from Dorsey’s draft board. Some are reporting coach Hue Jackson won’t even be told who the first pick will be until tomorrow night.
While you may see this as humorous, it should also be considered concerning. It appears to be a blatant sign of how much Cleveland’s GM distrusts the coach he was forced to retain for this season.
How Dorsey accepted this job despite being forced to work with the Browns’ historically awful coach remains an incredible mystery. Jackson boasts a 1-31 record in Cleveland, and is fresh off a season in which he spent more time whining about the then-front office than he did actually winning football games. It’s tough to believe Dorsey, a highly respected NFL exec, didn’t try and convince owner Jimmy Haslam to let him hire his own coach.
That said, during the first few months of Cleveland’s latest forced marriage, we were told Dorsey and Jackson were working well together. What we’ve seen since implies anything but.
The cracks made their first appearance when the team hired Todd Haley as the new offensive coordinator. Jackson had been (poorly) running Cleveland’s offense over the past two years, and Dorsey was rumored to be leading the push to change that. Many believe Jackson was resistant to this, despite claiming otherwise with the media after the Haley hire was announced.
The next sign of troubled waters came in early March. Everyone assumed Cleveland would end up signing quarterback AJ McCarron in free agency, a player the team hilariously failed to trade for last November. Jackson was a staunch supporter of the former Cincinnati Bengal backup, so the assumption was Dorsey would get his coach the QB he wanted.
He did the opposite, trading for a far-more reliable Tyrod Taylor and completely disregarding McCarron despite Jackson reportedly spending the offseason lobbying for him.
These two events, plus the latest news regarding Dorsey shielding the pick from Jackson until the last minute, don’t exactly paint the picture of a strong working relationship between GM and coach.
Also of note is the stories about Dorsey trying to find out who within the organization is leaking to the media. Last year, the coaching staff seemed to have a direct link to NFL reporters, which it utilized to routinely bash the front office.
It seems Dorsey is concerned about this, and is putting an emphasis on bringing it to an end. It’s also not a leap to wonder if the constant misdirection we’re getting regarding the Browns’ draft plans is something he’s using to try and find out who’s leaking what.
This certainly hasn’t been confirmed. That said, it sure doesn’t seem like Dorsey trusts his head coach too much right now.
Nobody needs to know why. Again, Jackson has given a masterclass in failure over the past two years.
The real question is, if this distrust is so obvious to everyone watching, why the hell was Jackson retained in the first place?
Dorsey has shown no hesitation when it comes to undercutting his coach and diminishing his power. He doesn’t seem to be taking Jackson’s input too seriously, ignoring his campaigning for McCarron and reportedly keeping him in the dark with the top draft pick. Simply put, the way this relationship has started hardly implies it’s going to be in a good spot anytime soon.
If it seems frigid now, what do you think will happen if this team gets off to a bad start come regular season? You’re crazy if you don’t believe the coaches would once again start leaking info to the media with unflattering tidbits on Dorsey. We’re already witnessing a noticeable divide heading into the draft, a situation which won’t improve when you add regular season losses to the mix.
Many assume Jackson is already on borrowed time in Cleveland. While nobody knows for sure, what we’ve seen over the past few months implies the relationship between Dorsey and his embattled coach was doomed from the start.