Man, Hue Jackson is something else. The former Browns coach, fired on Monday after compiling a 3-36-1 record over two and a half years, could not stop himself from making a media appearance and trying to spin things in a positive light.
Specifically, Jackson — who is also scheduled to appear on ESPN’s “First Take” Friday — sat down with Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com for a Q&A about what went down with the Browns and how things got so out of control and who is to blame for everything.
Predictably, Jackson pointed to other people, didn’t believe he got enough time and tried to change history when it came to his interest in various quarterbacks during the draft.
The whole interview is worth a read because it’s pretty unbelievable to hear Hue talk about the way things went down.
He said he was “surprised” he got fired but not “totally blindsided” because there was “so much noise” out there about the Browns, most of which he doesn’t believe is true. It’s hard to believe Hue is that tone deaf or optimistic, but that’s what he’s saying. Hue also did not believe there was “discord” within the Browns, but only in a semantical fashion.
“Discord to me is a strong word. It means there’s always infighting. That’s a pretty hot word,” Jackson said. “I know there was disagreements and rightfully so. Who doesn’t disagree? But I think the term internal discord was a little much.”
Hue acknowledged he did go to owner Jimmy Haslam and try to have a “candid” conversation, which was reportedly about trying to run the offense. Jackson believes the Browns had a chance to actually make a run, which is a bit of wishful thinking, although he is not incorrect in stating they had a tough schedule to start.
“We had a lot of football left, were 2-5-1 with a rookie QB, left tackle, already played Pittsburgh twice, beat Baltimore, and could have easily been 3-4-1 if the first down isn’t taken back [in Oakland],” Jackson said. “The fact that we played four overtime games says that we were a better football team. In my mind, if we fix the offense — it’s a totally different story. So I do believe the move was premature. But I think a part of the problem again went back to the first two years.”
I mean, yeah. Jackson went 1-31 in his first two seasons. That’s hard to overcome. It’s a miracle he got another shot this season. Jackson is trying to pin everything on the analytics guys that new GM John Dorsey pushed out, pointing out if he’d been in charge from the start and the Browns were doing off the bat what they’re doing now, they’d “already be a winning football team.”
“Had we been doing in year one what I was able to get us to do in year three, there’s no question we would already be a winning football team,” Jackson said. “You can’t go 1-15 or 0-16 and have people like you unless you come out and explain to everyone that you’re going to lose. And you can’t say that publicly.”
OK, sure. The Browns basically did say they were going to try and lose games to acquire draft picks. It stinks that Hue had to coach a team that was tanking, but if he didn’t know that was happening when he signed up for the job, that’s on him. Let’s not act like this team is good now or that they didn’t lose games because of Jackson. They did.
The best part of Hue’s interview? Him traveling back in time to remember when he wanted to draft all the quarterbacks who could have been good. Jackson pointed out that the Browns passed on Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes, basically absolving himself of blame for the whole situation.
“We passed on three franchise QBs the first two years in Wentz, Watson and Mahomes,” Jackson said. “We played with a QB room with zero wins in the league. We played with street free agents and practice squad players in WRs. Yet our offense was the same or better than what we were doing this year. There is no way that should happen.
“You can’t pass on quarterbacks. You never pass on a potential franchise quarterback because you don’t know who’s going to be there in the future. I think Baker Mayfield is going to be a sensational player if they surround him with the right people, but they’ve got to give him help and run a scheme suited to his skillset.”
As you’ll recall, the Browns dealt the No. 2 overall pick to the Eagles, who drafted Wentz, for a bunch of picks. The Browns moved back and took Corey Coleman. Hue now claims he really wanted to draft Wentz.
“Oh my gosh, yes. Did I like Carson Wentz? Hell yes,” Jackson said. “He did something that no other quarterback did. I give them three minutes to memorize the book and put on the (white) board. He put it all on the board in two minutes and 48 seconds. I’ve never had a guy do that ever in my coaching career.”
Fiction can be funny! I find the truth to be much more enlightening. And the truth is Jackson never stumped for Wentz.
If you think this is just me questioning Hue’s hindsight vision, well, I’m not alone.
Oh yeah, also there’s essentially proof of it, with Mike Silver of NFL Media noting back in 2016 that Jackson, who he is close with, thought No. 2 was too high for drafting Wentz.
None of this should be surprising. Jackson is really good at working the media. He has a decent reputation for coaching quarterbacks and running offenses. But he has one of the worst records in NFL history as a head coach. He won .088 of his games with the Browns. That’s ludicrous.
He has to try and change history, because otherwise he’s just not going to get a job. All coaches do this. It just feels particularly egregious of Jackson to go on this tour the week after he got fired, acting as if he wasn’t culpable in everything that happened with the Browns over the last three years.
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