BEREA, Ohio – Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said the dismissal of coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley does not mean the team is giving up this season.
"This is not throwing in the towel," Haslam said Monday afternoon. "It's a restart, so to speak, an opportunity to give them a new start in these last eight games."
Haslam and general manager John Dorsey said the Browns' focus is on the last eight games, and that he's trying to help interim coach Gregg Williams win as many as he can.
"I think we put the organization in a better place today than it was yesterday," said Haslam. "And we're comfortable with the decision."
The Browns have fired coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley and interim coach Gregg Williams.
The work of the Browns checks many boxes: Young talent, a proven central office along with space on the cover. And they have their QB of the future at Baker Mayfield.
Shortly after the Browns fired their head coach and offensive coordinator, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said he has no interest in training in the NFL at this time.
Haslam refused to go into detail about the movements, apart from a revealing statement.
"I think today's message is that we will not tolerate internal discord," Haslam said. "We want people to collaborate and work together."
That discord centered on the direction of the offensive under Haley, with Jackson saying he would "help" while behind the scenes he wondered whether to fire Haley. The Browns got rid of both.
"I do not know if it's really good to go back and look at the past," said Haslam. "I think the actions and decisions we make today speak for themselves."
Jackson is the fourth coach Haslam has fired since 2012 (including Pat Shurmur, the coach when he took over). Williams will be the fifth coach of the team, the next will hire the sixth.
Since it was announced that Haslam would buy the team before the 2012 season, the Browns have gone 22-81-1.
Haslam has dealt with people who did not work well in the past: Jackson and Sashi Brown, Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer, and Rob Chudzinski and Mike Lombardi.
"I will accept the blame because, ultimately, it is the person at the head of the ship," said Haslam. "I'll take guilt as property, I can not explain it more than that, we've had different situations with different people, I know it's something that we're not going to tolerate going forward."
Haslam would not go into detail about the process to hire the next Browns coach. He has conducted searches that led to the hiring of Chudzinski, Pettine and Haslam. It will be interesting to see if he puts that work in Dorsey's hands. Haslam said that the structure of the team will not change organizationally, Dorsey and Williams will inform the owner.
"Hue, John and I worked together well, and I would expect the same with Gregg," said Haslam.
The Browns have made the development of Field Marshal Baker Mayfield a priority. Mayfield, the first overall pick in the 2018 draft, was caught in the middle with Jackson and Haley.
"He's a young man," Dorsey said of his field marshal. "He's seen a lot of complex defenses, he wants to win in the worst way, is there confidence there, yes, he's still there, that's the winning mentality he brings to the table that you really admire in him." .
"It will grow and develop even more as we move in. Our job is to create that environment to help the player."
Williams coached the Bills from 2001 to 2003, when he was 17-31. He has 20 years of coaching experience in the NFL, but was suspended for the entire 2012 season for his role in the New Orleans Saints rewards. Williams said that when he was hired he and commissioner Roger Goodell are close and have had good discussions about the suspension. Williams will remain the defensive coordinator of the Browns.
Freddie Kitchens goes from assistant head coach and running coach to offensive coordinator. He will call plays in a regular season game for the first time in his 13 seasons in the NFL, although Dorsey said Kitchens called the plays in the team's preseason final against Detroit.
The Browns started this season 2-2-1, but lost three straight and had a big fight in the 33-18 loss at Pittsburgh on Sunday. Jackson's tenure with the Browns includes a winless 2017 season and an overall record of 3-36-1.
On Sunday, the Browns will host the 7-1 Chiefs, the team with the highest NFL points.
"I think that at this moment the best situation in what we are trying to do here now is to create the best environment to move forward not only for the players, but also for the coaching staff," said Dorsey. "In that we focus on this moment is in the second half of the 2018 season onwards."