After a week of interviews, the search team for a new Head Coach for the Cleveland Browns has made their pick. The committee (made up of Cleveland Browns Owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam, Sports Analyst Expert Paul DePodesta,
Vice President in Charge of Football Operations Sashi Brown and Jed Hughes from the international search firm of Korn Ferry) spent the week interviewing a variety of candidates.
The list included Detroit Defensive Coordinator Teryl Austin, Chicago Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase and former Buffalo Head Coach now Offensive Assistant Coach in Jacksonville Doug Marrone. There were also meetings with New England Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia, Carolina Defensive Coordinator Sean McDermott, Cincinnati Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson and Bengals Defensive Coach Paul Guenther.
After meeting with the Bengal’s Offensive Coordinator, Hue Jackson on Sunday following Cincinnati’s shocking loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday evening, the Browns search committee flew down to Cincinnati early Tuesday for another three hours of interviews. It was then after a brief discussion among them that Mr. Jackson was offered the position as Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns.
During a Tuesday evening interview at the Cleveland Browns Training Complex in Berea, Ohio, Owner Jimmy Haslam remarked, “We got the right guy for the Cleveland Browns. He is smart. He is tough. He is confident. He is competitive. He has been a head coach before. He has a great offensive mind. He has a tremendous track record developing quarterbacks. He understands the AFC North. He has been a part of the AFC North. I think he is going to be a great head coach for the Cleveland Browns.”
Coach Jackson comes to the Cleveland Browns with eight years of college football experience and fifteen years of NFL coaching experience primarily working with Offensive Units, Running Backs, Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers and Special Teams. He has also earned high praise from such notables as Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis (who wished him the best for all but two of the games in the upcoming season), Viking’s Head Coach Mike Zimmer, Arizona Cardinals Quarterback Carson Palmer, various current and past NFL players as well as former Oakland Raider CEO Amy Trask.
Coach Jackson’s strength seems to be in his ability to get the best from his players. When asked what he felt was the primary principles needed to win in the NFL, Hue listed leadership on and off the field, integrity, accountability, passion (coupled with desire and determination), a strong work ethic and a desire to win.
When asked about using analytics with John DePodesta Jackson remarked, “I think there are all kinds of ways to make things happen. There is more than one way to do things. My conversations with Sashi and with Paul, we are on point. We understand exactly what it is going to take to put this roster together to give us the best opportunity to be successful. Analytics is just a part of it. It is not the whole part of it; it is a piece of it. If we can find another way of doing things good to give us an opportunity to have success, we will do that. There is not a person in this room that wouldn’t do that. I like being cutting edge. I try to be innovative and cutting edge on offense. We want to be innovative and cutting edge on everything that we do in this building because eventually, everyone is going to be doing what we are doing.”
When asked about the future of the current coaching staff, Quarterback Johnny Manziel, Offensive Linebacker Joe Thomas and Wide Receiver Josh Gordon (who may be reinstated next month by the NFL following numerous controlled substance violations) Coach Jackson said that he would be spending his time looking and evaluating films as well as sitting down one on one with the various coaches and players in order to tell them of his plans for the team and to see if they fit in those plans. Jackson also revealed that he had over 142 texts messages on his phone from coaches around the country who are interested in working with him.
The next task for the Cleveland Browns is the search for a General Manager who will be in charge of signing potential players to the team. When asked if he had any input on who that will be and if he will have any input on choosing talent Coach Jackson remarked that he would be involved in the decision process but the final decision would not be his to make.
Coach Jackson was also asked about what excited him about being here in Cleveland to which he remarked that Cleveland has one of the most loyal fan bases in the country as well as a dedicated front office staff willing to work long and hard to bring a winning team together for the city.
Across the board the reaction to Coach Jackson being hired has been positive around the region by all those who cover the team. It looks as if the Cleveland Browns have entered a new era of cooperation. During the Tuesday evening press conference three words came up…Alignment…Collaborative…Comfortable which show a desire of the front office to work together to put together a winning franchise.
Coach Jackson has proven successful in every position that he has held in football in the past 23 years. With the caliper of assistant coaching and players that he can attract it looks like Cleveland could be on the right track to success. While it is way too early to judge or predict, the team seems bent on success. Fans need only look at the fact that after this past season there is not much further of a drop needed to bottom out. Fans around the world hope that the new changes will indeed be for the better and we see a return to the former glory days of the Cleveland Browns. Go Browns!