Browns head coach Hue Jackson's hints at potentially taking over play-calling duties following last week's loss – which he later sought to walk-back or clarify – were met with sweeping internal derision from players, staff and management, according to sources with knowledge of the situation, further undermining his tenuous relationships in Cleveland.
Jackson's remarks flabbergasted and confounded those he works with and confused many in the locker room after rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield had just rallied the team from a 16-2 halftime deficit to send the game into overtime. It was Jackson's own inability to develop a quarterback or kickstart the offense that led to the hiring of former Chiefs head coach Todd Haley as offensive coordinator in the offseason, and the Browns are averaging a touchdown more per game than they did a year ago.
Jackson has defied the odds by remaining with the Browns despite a 1-31 record in his first two seasons and has enjoyed unprecedented support and loyalty from Jimmy and Dee Haslam as owners. However, there is open discussion within that organization below the ownership level about whether or not Jackson is fit for the job, and whether or not the future of Mayfield should be entrusted to him. Jackson's remarks on Sunday further alienated him from his staff, according to numerous sources with knowledge of the situation, and he has rankled others by repeatedly allowing players to show up late or not adhere to the team's dress code when traveling with little repercussions. A lack of discipline is considered part of the losing culture there.
Jackson has displayed a propensity to obsess over the comments of other coaches and staff to the media, sources said, parsing out words to determine whether or not he is being given sufficient credit for the team's progress. Sunday's outburst won't be quickly forgotten and deepens his fight for respect with those he works with, the sources said.
General manager John Dorsey accepted that job last year with the stipulation that Jackson remain the head coach for the 2018 season, but with Dorsey in place and Mayfield flashing big-time potential, the Browns would be able to compete for the best and brightest head coaching candidates in 2019, something that has not been the case there under the Haslams to this point. Many of Dorsey's peers advised him about their reservations about Jackson prior to him taking the job, league sources said, and Jackson's remarks on Sunday left rival coaches and executives scratching their heads yet again.