Internal Criticism is Exactly What Browns Coach Hue Jackson Needs

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There are two moments everyone seems to be talking about when it comes to the Cleveland Browns‘ debut on HBO’s Hard Knocks. One is Jarvis Landry cursing out his fellow wideouts and making me want to run through a damn wall. The other was the awkward conversation between head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

The two butted heads when it came to Jackson’s insistence on giving days off to various players, with Haley arguing it only hurts the team. Many saw it as the first signs of a power struggle between a struggling coach and his newest staff member.

I certainly agree this dynamic is something to keep an eye on. That said, I’m holding off on sounding the alarms for now. Frankly, I think this is exactly what Jackson needs this year.

For those who didn’t see it, here’s Haley’s infamous feedback when hearing the latest list of mandated off days.

Honestly, it’s tough to disagree with him. While I get Jackson’s fear of losing players early to injury, we’ve also heard Browns training camp referred to as “Camp Cupcake” many times over the years. The team has been losing for what feels like forever, and developing a new sense of toughness is a necessity when it comes to ending this trend.

It’s also understandably awkward to hear Jackson explain what it’s like to be a head coach despite Haley having held said position before and logging more wins than him.

Considering all of this, yes, I can see why some would be concerned, fearing an entire season of Jackson and Haley going at each other’s throats.

However, I’m still choosing to take the positive route here (it’s a rare occurrence, I’m aware). Mainly because I think it’s about time Jackson gets pushed like this.

Despite the fact he’s won one game in two years, he still carries an attitude that screams “I know exactly what I’m doing.” It was on display last night when he made sure his entire staff knew this was his team. Jackson has been notoriously defensive even when his methods have yielded zero success.

Knowing this, how can you not be on board with someone pushing back when they feel there’s reason to be concerned with how Jackson is running things?

Sure, it makes for awkward situations. Still, the last thing Jackson needs is to have unanimous approval from his staff on every decision he makes

He needs to be pushed. He needs to be questioned. He needs to no longer carry an overwhelming sense of confidence despite boasting a 1-31 record with the Browns.

Simply put, Jackson can’t have an entire staff of yes men.

What he’s been doing hasn’t been working. This helps explain why Haley is even here to begin with. Jackson clearly had too much on his plate acting as both head coach and offensive coordinator, and many reports indicate he wasn’t initially on board with the idea of adding Haley.

Not only was the front office hiring him despite this a message, so was Haley airing his grievances about Jackson’s practice habits.

It’s all serving as a reminder that he has no reason to feel comfortable in his current position.

You could argue Jackson responding to this latest critique by lecturing former head coaches about what it means to be a head coach implies nothing registered. Still, Haley’s facial expressions sure made it seem like this won’t be the last time he voices his opinion.

I hope he continues to do so. I hope anyone on the staff with concerns continues to do so. If Jackson keeps feeling as though he’s constantly right despite results begging to differ, nothing is going to change with this team.

Of course, there’s also a chance something like this festers. There’s a difference between being challenged and being undermined. We saw the former last night, but it wouldn’t take much for this situation to teeter towards the latter. Should Cleveland get off to another bad start, Jackson’s coordinators may begin taking less subtle approaches with their complaints.

For now, though, I found Haley’s criticism refreshing. Just as Landry told his fellow wideouts, the way things have been going has to change. If it doesn’t, the losses will keep coming. It’s good to know both players and the coaching staff are well aware, and have no problem letting the right people know.

Now Jackson just needs to start listening.

Casey Drottar is an independent sports writer. Subscribe to his podcast, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook


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