Column: With season circling the drain, time for Haslams to consider another divorce

Hue Jackson, Todd Haley friction chronicled before and after loss to Steelers

Daryl Ruiter
October 28, 2018 - 10:36 pm

© Charles LeClaire/Jeffrey Becker/Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

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Pittsburgh, PA (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Browns have decided to do ‘December in Berea’ a little earlier this year.  

They couldn’t even get to Halloween.

To no one’s surprise – we predicted it following Hue Jackson’s ill-conceived comments in Tampa about wanting to stick his nose in the offense – the dirty laundry has been hung out to dry.

The grievances of Jackson, Todd Haley and those within the building have now all been aired thanks to stories from CBS Sports’ Jason LaCanfora, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson.

Nobody does dysfunction and messy divorces quite like the Browns do and at 2-5-1 having lost 3 straight with a fourth in a row awaiting them next week when the 7-1 Chiefs blow through town, things don’t appear to be getting better any time soon.

Now it’s time for the adults in the room to put the children in their place or throw them out altogether.

Jimmy and Dee Haslam are used to firing people. They do it often.

They’re not good at hiring coaches and they certainly are not good at keeping the peace and getting people to actually work together in harmony.

That is a culture that is as foreign to this franchise as actually winning games.

The root of this year’s issues are as follows: Haley is supposed to have autonomy over the offense including game plans, play calls etc. while Jackson’s job is on the line and the team needs to win games, and with that, Jackson is having problems allowing Haley’s work to play a significant role in the evaluation of him and his long-term status without him having the ability to control it.

The moment Haley was hired in January this problem could be seen coming from a mile away, and not just because these are the Browns and this stuff is as predictable as losses to the Steelers are.

It only took 3 minutes of film aired on ‘Hard Knocks’ in August to reinforce the idea that Haley and Jackson were on a collision course this season.

It only took 6 weeks for confirmation to become public.

There was no reason – regardless of frustration from a difficult 26-23 overtime loss to the Buccaneers – for Jackson to volunteer that he needed or wanted to “help” Haley and the offense. He could’ve easily gone about that behind the scenes with no one outside of the organization knowing it.

But Jackson had to let everyone know that it was time for him to step in, just like he mentioned that he did on special teams and was also disappointed nobody in the media gave him a big ole pat on the back for doing so.

Jackson had to spend the better part of the week cleaning up the mess he created by walking back his Haley-offense comments.

General manager John Dorsey believes he built a team capable of competing this season and the team is starting to not look nearly as competitive as they should.

Jackson’s reputation for overselling – see RG3, Cody Kessler, DeShone Kizer – and throwing people under the bus – see Ray Horton, Sashi Brown and now apparently Haley – also does not bode well in his favor and it speaks to a lack of real leadership.

Sure, the players love Jackson.

They sing his praises when asked. But this is an undisciplined team that lacks focus, commits a ton of penalties and doesn’t execute when it matters most, so maybe liking the head coach shouldn’t be much of a priority right now.

The Haslams are supposed to be the grown ups here and if they need to make more changes to try and salvage a season that is starting to circle the drain, so be it.

Jackson’s days of “driving the bus” and reminding everyone that he “is the head coach of this football team” are numbered regardless if he’s fired Monday, next Monday, the bye week or before they get on the plane Dec. 30 to return from Baltimore after wrapping up another wretched miserable season.

Moving on is the easy part.

What to do in the meantime as well as the long-term is the difficult discussion that needs to be had because the Browns aren’t winning with Jackson, it doesn’t appear they will with him any time soon and they certainly can still lose without him.