Hue Jackson is trying to make Todd Haley into a scapegoat, but the Browns should know which one has to go.
Somehow, coming off a winless season and with 1-31 record over two seasons, Hue Jackson survived as Cleveland Browns head coach. The results have been better this year, with a 2-4-1 record entering Sunday’s game, but something is not working. Jackson wants to insert his input into a struggling offense, with a finger pointed at coordinator Todd Haley.
From the start, or at least the first episode of Hard Knocks, Jackson and Haley’s relationship was strained. They disagreed on resting players during training camp, which led Jackson to asserting his spot as the head coach while suggesting others (Haley) should fall in line with his wishes without any question.
Haley has dismissed the idea of tension with Jackson. But on Sunday morning Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the dysfunction between Haley and Jackson could lead to a change.
Jackson would be first in line to be removed, with a 3-35-1 record as Cleveland’s head coach going into Sunday. The other just as obvious option would be letting Haley go. Haley has a reputation for being hard to work with, but the offenses he has run have generally been pretty good.
In the background of the tension between Jackson and Haley is rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield. The No. 1 overall pick in April’s draft was sure to have some ups and down this year, but it’s surely no accident he’s struggling in a more pronounced way over the last couple games (12 of 23 for 99 yards with a touchdown and an interception through three quarters of Sunday’s game against the Steelers, as of this writing).
Browns general manager John Dorsey was not with the Kansas City Chiefs when Haley was head coach there (2009-2011). But it’s safe to say forcing Jackson to hire an offensive coordinator, after he went without one for two seasons, came from above the head coach when Dorsey stepped in as general manager.
A current two-game losing streak could reach three for the Browns on Sunday, with the Chiefs, Falcons and Bengals next on the schedule up to and out of a Week 11 bye. If things are already percolating between Jackson and Haley, they will boil over sometime soon and something will have to give.
Jackson is on a short leash, and unless the Browns somehow earn a playoff spot he probably won’t be back as head coach in 2019. But the Browns can’t be expected to make the right decision, even with the credibility Dorsey comes with, so Haley will probably be the one gone soon, as Jackson somehow survives another power struggle.