The Browns have fired coach Hue Jackson a day after the team lost to the Steelers, 33-18, and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has been named interim coach, Offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who was hired in January after six seasons in Pittsburgh, has also been fired.
Jackson's tenure was marred by constant losing. In 2.5 seasons, Jackson was 3-36-1, including a winless 2017 campaign. Things improved slightly this season; the Browns tied the Steelers in Week 1, beat the Jets and Ravens, and should have had wins over the Saints and Buccaneers.
The Browns were steamrolled in the second half of Sunday's loss to the Steelers, which dropped them to 2-5-1 and apparently sealed Jackson's fate in Cleveland.
It's been eight days since Jackson told reporters that he wouldthat has been one of the league's worst through the first half of the season.
"I feel like I have to (get more involved)," Jackson told reporters after the overtime loss to the Buccaneers. "That's what I know, so I'm not going to continue to watch something that I know how to do keep being that way. That's just the truth. I mean, that's nothing against anybody in our building. I just think that's what I do, and I think I need to be a little bit more involved."
Hours before Sunday's game in Pittsburgh, Rapoport reported that Haley could be fired if the offense didn't improve. After the loss, Jackson addressed his relationship with Haley.
"I said what I said last week and obviously it had legs, but I've never said I wanted to take over play-calling," Jackson said. "I said I wanted to help. That's it. So today, now all of a sudden it's a big old thing. Sure, everybody's going to look and say, 'Well what's going on?' The only thing that's going on is we need to get better. We need to coach better. We need to get better."
For the Browns, that meant moving on from both men.
Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot reports that ownership told Jackson that the team had quit on him, he was no longer an effective leader and that the team had regressed on both sides of the ball.
Rapoport has a different account, reporting that owner Jimmy Haslam was partial to keeping Jackson while general manager John Dorsey, who was hired in the offseason, was ready to move on, perhaps in part because there were concerns that rookie quarterback and first-overall pick Baker Mayfield could find himself in the middle of a Jackson-Haley power struggle.
More on #Browns: Significant worry in org from front office was Baker Mayfield getting thrust into the middle of Hue vs. Haley. GM John Dorsey didn’t want Mayfield being pressed for an endorsement of one of the guys or being constantly asked by the media about it the rest of 2018— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) October 29, 2018
"I try not to pay attention to that stuff," Mayfield said Sunday when asked about the Jackson-Haley dynamic. "I'm invested in the game plan, invested in trying to learn, and grow with these receivers. I'm trying to get the trust."
And now Mayfield will do it with a new coach and offensive coordinator.
Browns staff yet to be notified who will take over as interim head coach with Hue Jackson on the way out. I would vote for Bob Wylie (must see press conferences). I obviously do not have a vote. They have several former HCs on staff.— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) October 29, 2018
Social media wasted little time promoting Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley as Jackson's eventual successor.
Jackson was the Browns' ninth coach since the team returned to Cleveland in 1999, and the fourth coach since Haslam bought the team in 2012. Jackson also has the worst winning percentage (0.088) of any Browns coach who was on the sidelines for more than one game.
In related news, facing the Steelers isn't great for job security.
We can now add Jackson's name to the list of coaches that include Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmur, Rod Chudzinski and Mike Pettine.