13 January 2016

Hue Jackson is the new Cleveland Browns head coach

(Andrew Weber/USATSI)
Only a few days after the Miami Dolphins were the first team to hire a new head coach this offseason, the Cleveland Browns have now joined them. As broken by the great Michael Silver, Bengals offensive coordinator and former Raiders head coach Hue Jackson will become the next head coach of the Browns. Jackson was under consideration for a number of gigs, including as the top choice in San Francisco, and was considered by many to be one of the better coaches on the market.

As we all know, the Browns have become synonymous with dysfunction since returning to the league in 1999, running through eight head coaches and seven general managers with only two winning seasons and one playoff berth to speak for it. So can Jackson be the one to turn the tide?

It is easy to see why somebody would not want the Browns job. The roster is a mess, the culture of losing runs deep, there is no stability and you have an owner in Jimmy Haslam who, along with being a crook, simply has no idea how to run an NFL franchise. He's gutted the front office once again and decisions will be made by a lawyer as well as a former baseball executive in an attempt to bring advanced analytics made famous in the book Moneyball to the NFL. It's certainly an intriguing idea that could very well work, but who's to say that Haslam will have the patience needed to make this work when he has shown very little patience thus far?

But this is a coup for the Browns, especially considering that Jackson was seen as an attractive candidate by many. Jackson is well-respected by many around the league for having a sound offensive mind thanks to his many stops as an assistant in Washington, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Baltimmore, Oakland and in Cincinnati again. His offenses with the Raiders, both as a coordinator and as a head coach finished in the top ten in the league and as the playcaller in Cincinnati helped Andy Dalton put together the best season of his career this season. It is so clear that the Bengals were fond of him that they were willing to put in place a succession plan where he would replace Marvin Lewis at some point.

Now Jackson's sole head coaching opportunity did not end as he would have hoped as he was fired after a sole season as head coach of the Raiders. A 1-4 finish after a 7-4 start didn't really help matters either and the big trade he pulled off with the Bengals for Carson Palmer didn't work out (although it may have had the Raiders kept Palmer around considering his recent renaissance). However, the real reason why Jackson was fired was not because of substandard performance but rather because incoming GM Reggie McKenzie wanted to hire his own guy, ultimately Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen. It is important to note that the Raiders had their only two .500 seasons since losing Super Bowl XXXVII with Jackson calling the plays and that 2011 season came amid the midseason death of Al Davis.

There isn't a whole lot on the Browns roster but Jackson may have some pieces to work with. Josh Gordon, should he ever get his act together, is one of the better wideouts in the league, tight end Gary Barnidge came out of nowhere to have an excellent season and the Browns are widely expected to use the second overall selection on a quarterback. Of course, if both franchise mainstay Joe Thomas and center Alex Mack choose to leave in free agency, that offensive line will be a mess.

And for those wondering about the future of one Johnny Manziel, it certainly will not be in Cleveland with Jackson in town.

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