I won’t lie, I was a bit worried the Cleveland Browns would have trouble carrying the momentum from Sunday’s win through the bye week. The extra time off led me to think the high from beating the Atlanta Falcons would wear off by the time they took the field again.
I’m not worried about this anymore. That’s all thanks to the “savvy” hire Cleveland’s next opponent made this morning.
As I’m sure you’ve heard, the Cincinnati Bengals decided to bring Hue Jackson back onto their coaching staff two weeks after he was fired by the Browns. He’ll be there just in time for the Bengals’ game against Cleveland on November 25.
As a result, the Browns should have all the motivation they need to keep the wins coming.
There’s no denying the fact Cleveland has played better since it rid itself of one of the worst coaches in NFL history. Though the team was out-gunned by the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 9, the offense still looked vastly improved. Players have been very open about the fact practices have been far more focused and energized. It’s also no coincidence two of rookie QB Baker Mayfield’s best performances of the year came in the wake of the coaching change.
During this time, Jackson has been on an unabashed press tour, talking to any outlet which will listen to him avoid any accountability for his 3-36-1 record with in Cleveland. He’s blamed plenty of people for his struggles, including players currently in the Browns’ locker room, men he deemed “not talented enough” to allow him to run the offense the way he wanted.
Jackson then iced this cake by returning to the Bengals just in time to get them ready for their bout with the Browns in two weeks, joining the staff as a “Special Assistant” to head coach Marvin Lewis.
If the Browns hadn’t circled this game on their calendar yet, you better believe they have it marked down now.
Make no mistake, everyone with the organization knows why Jackson went back to Cincinnati. Sure, the move was made in part because of Jackson’s connection with Lewis. Still, there’s a reason it happened now. There’s a reason he didn’t wait until the offseason to make this move.
Jackson rushed to join the Bengals so he could try and beat the team which fired him, and do so twice. It’s an attempt to give Cincinnati an edge over his former employer, some sort of revenge plot as he tries to prove Cleveland was wrong to fire him.
Jackson’s comments from the past few weeks certainly indicate he still feels this way. That he rushed to join a team which plays Cleveland twice in the next six weeks – taking an incredibly vague position which sounds like a reference to The Office – just hammers this home further.
This is clear to everyone, including Browns players.
As you can see, not only are Jackson’s motives blatantly apparent, they’re also sure to rile up his former team.
The Browns have watched his media tour. They’ve been asked to comment on their former coach absolving himself of any blame for their losses. They’ve heard his excuses, heard him take every opportunity he could find to make himself look like a victim of a bad roster.
On top of all of this, they’re now watching him join Cincinnati’s staff, doing so to give the team a competitive advantage over the one which fired him.
If you’re a player in the Browns locker room, how do you not see Jackson’s latest career move as extra motivation?
You’re coming off your most impressive win of the season, a game in which Cleveland excelled both offensively and defensively. And now your next game is against a coach who sure didn’t seem to be well-liked in the locker room.
Who never hesitated to throw anyone under the bus if it meant shielding himself from blame.
Who now thinks he’s being clever by joining the staff of your next opponent, and likely views said move as a way to stick it to his former employer.
At first, I was worried about the Browns losing focus and momentum during the bye week. Now I’m forced to wonder if they’ll be so motivated to play the Bengals, they might not actually get to enjoy any of their time off.