Ex-Browns head coach Hue Jackson says ‘internal discord’ unfair characterization

In ESPN interview Friday, Jackson says he and Todd Haley have not spoken since firings

Daryl Ruiter
November 02, 2018 - 11:42 am
Hue Jackson, Todd Haley, Baker Mayfield Cleveland Browns

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – When owner Jimmy Haslam and general manager John Dorsey announced they had fired Hue Jackson as head coach Monday, they did not point to his 3-36-1 record.

Haslam specifically said, “we will not tolerate internal discord.”

In a lengthy interview on ESPN’s ‘First Take’ Friday morning featuring Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman, Jackson disputed the notion that problems with offensive coordinator Todd Haley was the root cause of both of their dismissals.

“I don’t really think it was truly just about internal discord,” Jackson said. “I think that’s a strong word. I think you have disagreements with coaches – with Todd, with Gregg Williams, with Amos Jones, who is also the special teams coordinator. I don’t think that’s internal discord.”

Haley came to Cleveland in January after the Steelers declined to renew his contract and he came to town with a reputation for having a strong, combustible personality.

Jackson was asked specifically if he hired Haley, to which he said, “Yes I did.” He also disputed the notion that the hire was forced upon him by the Haslams or Dorsey.

“Those were my hires, and those hires were very strategic for me,” Jackson said. “I knew that Todd Haley was a proven offensive play caller, veteran play caller in our division. Why would you not? I mean, let’s be honest, I knew I was on the clock. You can’t be 1-15, 0-16 and think, you know you can go through the season and not win football games.

“I wanted to surround myself with guys that have done it, and done it at a high level, and Todd Haley was definitely one of those guys.”

So why hire Haley?

“When I think of our division, I think the fastest way to make an impact with a team that hadn’t won a lot of games is in your division,” Jackson said. “Here’s a guy, as I mentioned earlier, had done a great job within the division of playing these teams and been very successful. Why not Todd Haley? You know, again, everybody has a different personality but at the end of the day if it’s truly about winning, you do what you think is best to put the team in a situation to have success.”

Jackson regrets turning the offense over to Haley and following the 33-18 loss to the Steelers, Jackson planned to take it back. But he and Haley were fired first.

The two have not spoken since they were fired.

“I hired Todd. I brought Todd into the organization. I understood the personality I was getting when I brought him in,” Jackson said. “Gregg Williams is no different. Again, because I thought we needed guys that could change the narrative in Cleveland. I think we needed strong personalities to lead both sides of the ball because we need to come out and play extremely well so again, my relationship with Todd is still my relationship with him and what I mean by that – I mean, we haven’t talked since we both departed but I think you know, again, we respect each other’s football [knowledge].”

Jackson revealed that he didn’t think the Browns were playing to Baker Mayfield’s strengths offensively.

“I think we played a traditional style of football, and that's OK,” Jackson said. “There's nothing wrong with that. But again the question that was asked of me is what would you do with Baker. I think that's where I think the rubber meets the road. You have to do everything you can to make him successful, and if you're going to do that, then you go back and do the things that made you draft him as the first pick of the draft.”

Jackson also tried to dispute the narrative that he is unwilling to take accountability saying, “I take it all.”

“We didn't win enough. At the end of the day when you look at it, we didn't win enough games,” Jackson said. “No matter how you cut it, regardless of what they said or how they said it, you gotta win enough games. You know, these jobs, there’s 32 of them and I was fortunate and blessed by Dee and Jimmy to have an opportunity to be one of 32, but at the end of the day when you look at it you gotta win enough games and we didn’t.”

Jackson said he is “surprised and shocked when people say that” he throws people under the bus.

“I do get surprised by so many things that says I throw people under the bus,” Jackson said. “I think if people really go and watch, for majority of the time, I've taken it all. I've taken it all for the organization, the football team and anybody else.”

As for what is next for Jackson, he hopes to repair his image as a coach by taking a step back when he does return to coaching.

“I hope the next opportunity for me is to go back and be a coordinator, first and foremost,” Jackson said. “Go back and put my name back to where it should be among the best play callers in this league, and then move forward from there.”