The Hue Jackson media tour after he was fired by the Browns has been utterly preposterous. Either Jackson has no intention of working in the NFL again, or he has no idea how to actually rehab his image using the media. As the kids say these days: this ain’t it, chief.
The more Jackson opens his mouth to defend himself, the more it’s easy to see how a coach in today’s NFL could end up with a historically bad 3-36-1 record.
He’s going around saying things that are easily verifiable and in some cases, just plain false. So we need to debunk some of the things that Jackson has spouted off this week, to Cleveland reporters and on ESPN’s First Take.
Hue Jackson said he wanted to take Carson Wentz in 2016
The Browns could’ve selected Carson Wentz with the second overall pick in the 2016 draft, but instead they traded down twice for extra picks. Cleveland ended up picking at No. 15, where they took Corey Coleman — a receiver who is currently on his fourth team since August of this year.
Here’s what Jackson told Mary Kay Cabot in an interview.
“Oh my gosh, yes. Did I like Carson Wentz? Hell yes. He did something that no other quarterback did. I give them three minutes to memorize the book and put on the (white) board. He put it all on the board in two minutes and 48 seconds. I’ve never had a guy do that ever in my coaching career.”
The truth: We know that this one isn’t true. According to NFL Network’s Mike Silver, who is a proud friend of Jackson, Jackson preferred Jared Goff to Wentz in the 2016 NFL Draft and he believed that the second overall pick was too high for Wentz.
He wasn't getting cute. He loved Goff and did not love Wentz.— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) September 6, 2016
Jackson doesn’t really gain anything from saying that he wanted Wentz when there are clear reports stating the opposite.
Hue Jackson thinks the firing was a bit premature
Hue Jackson’s career head coaching record sits at 11-44-1. That’s a winning percentage of .205. The only coach that has a worse winning percentage than Jackson is Bert Bell, who coached the Eagles from 1936-41. Bell went 10-46-2 in that span, but he wasn’t fired because he was also the owner of the team at the time!
Here’s what Hue said on First Take.
Ex-#Browns head coach Hue Jackson on ESPN on how fair this all was to Baker Mayfield: "They made a choice that they think was best for the organization and football team. I've already come out and said I think it was a little premature. I have to respect their wishes. "— Keith Britton (@KeithBritton86) November 2, 2018
The truth: Uh, what?! The Browns went 3-36-1 under Hue Jackson and quite frankly he’s lucky that he was able to get a third year after going 1-15 and 0-16. This quote is even more confusing when you realize that Hue knew that he was on a tight leash after going 1-31 in his first two years.
This is from Jackson’s interview with Cabot:
“I also knew that if we didn’t start winning, with John Dorsey on board, that changes were going to have to be made.”
Still, there’s a good chance that Jackson would be the coach if John Dorsey hadn’t convinced owner Jimmy Haslam to do otherwise.
Detail on #Browns: Owner Jimmy Haslam was conflicted over blowing up another coach mid-season. Late last night he was leaning toward staying course. But Haslam spoke to GM John Dorsey, who said the Hue/Haley dynamic couldn’t continue. Some decision had to be made for the team.— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) October 29, 2018
Hue Jackson said the players were fighting as hard as they could
Before Cleveland, Hue Jackson had a reputation as a players’ coach; someone who could get the most out of his players and maximize their effort levels on a day-to-day basis.
Hue still believes that. Here’s a quote from him on First Take where he speaks on his players battling for him.
Ex-#Browns head coach Hue Jackson on ESPN: "We were in a lot of games, again, it comes back to us as coaches first. We needed to coach better. At the same time, our players will tell you they fought as hard as they could. We just did not get it done."— Keith Britton (@KeithBritton86) November 2, 2018
The truth: There was a notable difference in the energy and attention to detail in the Browns’ first practice without Jackson, according to Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi.
If the players are noticeably sharper and more productive the second a head coach leaves, it’s safe to say that they weren’t fully invested in the program that the coach had installed. Even Ian Rapoport reported that Baker Mayfield wouldn’t miss Hue Jackson now that he’s gone.
Hue Jackson thinks people believe he forgot how to coach
What’s funny about the Jackson era in Cleveland is that a lot of people thought the Browns finally had their guy at head coach. He was the offensive coordinator for an extremely successful Cincinnati Bengals offense in 2015 that was seventh in the league in points per game and featured the best season of Andy Dalton’s career.
Looking back at that offense in conjunction with what has transpired in Cleveland and you almost have to wonder if that offense was successful because of the players more than the coaches.
That Bengals team had A.J. Green, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, healthy Tyler Eifert, Giovani Bernard, Rex Burkhead, and Jeremy Hill in his prime. They also had a stalwart offensive line featuring Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler. It’d be pretty hard to mess up an offense with a supporting cast that good.
Here’s what Hue said on First Take when questioned about his ability to coach:
"when you go 1-15, 0-16....people forget you know how to coach" - hue jackson on first take— charles mcdonald (lakers 3-5) (@FourVerts) November 2, 2018
The truth: Hue Jackson might not have forgotten how to coach, but it’s hard to blame people who think he did. Admittedly, Jackson did a solid job guiding the Raiders after the midseason death of owner Al Davis in 2011 — the Raiders went 8-8 that season.
Since then, it’s been a complete disaster for him as a head coach. It’s hard to point at 3-36-1 and expect people to believe that you’re still good at this.
Jackson is trying to repair a broken reputation right now, but this media tour in the immediate days after his firing doesn’t make him look good. If anything, it somehow makes him look worse than the 3-36-1 record he’s leaving Cleveland with.