The Cleveland Browns have spent years in perpetual restart mode. And now, even in a season when the emergence of rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield provided glimmers of hope, they have pressed that reset button again, deciding Monday. Fire chief Hue Jackson.
The team also toppled Todd Haley as its offensive coordinator and promoted defensive coordinator Gregg Williams as interim coach.
Jackson was in his third season as coach of the Browns and had a record of 3-36-1. The Browns have a 2-5-1 record this season and are on a three-game losing streak.
"We understand how critical this period of time is in the development of our football team, individually and collectively," owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam said in a written statement, "and we believe that the best thing for the organization is to do the change at this time. " , in order to maximize our opportunities for the rest of this season. "
The Haslam opted not to fire Jackson after last season, even after the Browns went 1-31 in a span of two seasons, including 0-16 last season. They entrusted the rebuilding of the team to a new general manager, John Dorsey, who chose to use the most important general pick in the NFL draft in Mayfield, the winner of the Heisman Trophy in Oklahoma.
That has been a wise choice, since Mayfield looks like a star in his making during his rookie season. He took over veteran Tyrod Taylor during a game against the New York Jets in which Taylor suffered a head injury, and led the Browns to their first victory since the 2016 season. He also led a victory over the Baltimore Ravens that matched the Browns record at 2-2-1 and put thoughts of playoff contention in the minds of some particularly optimistic observers.
But the Browns have been back, well, the Browns in the weeks since then. They have suffered defeats against the Los Angeles Chargers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Pittsburgh Steelers. Jackson spoke of being more involved with the offense, essentially putting him at odds with Haley and establishing a potential option between the two men.
Instead of choosing, the Browns simply got rid of both.
According to the person close to the situation, the Haslams weighed the decision in consultation with Dorsey and decided that while a change of coach in the season was far from ideal, they did not want things to stay as they are between Jackson and Haley, what could put Mayfield's development at risk. So the Browns were put back on the coach change carousel.
Running coach Freddie Kitchens was promoted to offensive coordinator. So, in effect, he will become the temporary administrator of Mayfield's progression. It would not be surprising to see the Browns hire an offensive head coach in the next offseason, hoping that their next coach can do for Mayfield what Sean McVay did in Los Angeles for quarterback Jared Goff. The Chicago Bears took a similar approach in the offseason when they hired Matt Nagy as coach to pair with young quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
For now, Williams is in charge. He is the former head coach of the Buffalo Bills, and continues his return to coaching fame after missing the 2012 season while suspended by the NFL for his role in the Bountygate scandal with the New Orleans Saints.
For Cleveland in the future, it will be about what is best for Mayfield. It is the centerpiece of the Browns' last reconstruction effort, and Jackson's dismissal makes it clear that all decisions will be made based on his best interests.
Jackson's expulsion comes a day after the Cleveland basketball team fired coach Tyronn Lue with the Cavaliers sitting at 0-6 this season.
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