Browns Hire Hue Jackson

While a team-wide meltdown of historic proportions was certainly a bad thing for the Cincinnati Bengals last weekend, it actually ended up working out pretty well for offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. Wednesday the Cleveland Browns reached an agreement with Jackson to become their next head coach.

Jackson is the second new head coach to be named this season. Over the weekend Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase became the head coach of the Miami Dolphins.

If we’re still keeping track of this kind of thing, Jackson is the fourth active black head coach in the NFL, joining the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin, the Detroit Lions’ Jim Caldwell and Jackson’s old boss, the Bengals’ Marvin Lewis. Jackson gets the number back to four after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers surprised everyone, including Lovie Smith, by firing him last week.

This won’t be Jackson’s first stint as a head coach. Jackson coached the Oakland Raiders for a single season in 2011, going 8-8 with the team before new General Manager Reggie McKenzie fired him. It was move that obviously worked out well for the Raiders as its taken them four seasons to almost put up a similar record as they went 7-9 this season under new head coach Jack Del Rio. Fun fact, Jackson was the second straight 8-8 coach the Raiders fired in that stretch, cutting ties with Tom Cable in 2010 after he took the team to .500. Those seasons are the only non-losing seasons the Raiders have enjoyed since 2002.

Jackson has been the Bengals’ offensive coordinator for the last two seasons, helping the team make consecutive playoff appearances and fielding one of the top offensive attacks in the NFL. The 50-year-old coach was a hot name in this year’s head coaching searches, pretty much showing up on every team’s interview list.

Jackson’s hiring is the nail in the coffin for Johnny Manziel’s career in Cleveland. After a few months of seemingly getting his life together, Manziel went off the deep end late in the season and even got busted in a disguise partying in Las Vegas. This was all after skipping a concussion assessment at the end of the season. Manziel is done in Cleveland and really should be done in the NFL until he gets his head out of his ass.

The Browns have the No. 2 pick in April’s draft and unless someone jumps them in a trade with the Tennessee Titans, they should be able to land Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch and team he and Jackson up for a long time to come. They also still have Josh McCown and Austin Davis both under contract, so adding Lynch should give them a solid QB situation in 2016-17.

Jackson will also have to be part of the decision-making process in deciding the final fate of wide receiver Josh Gordon. Gordon was suspended for at least a year for his latest violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. When Gordon is playing, he’s one of the best wide receivers in the NFL and Jackson is used to having an A..J. Green-type receiver out there so cutting ties with Gordon may not be as tempting as it seems.

Gordon isn’t the only wide receiver the Browns will have to make a decision on. Travis Benjamin is an unrestricted free agent. The team can’t afford to lose Benjamin at all because other than tight end Gary Barnidge, he’s one of the few legit offensive weapons they have.

Luckily for the Browns this should be a deep group at running back, something they desperately need and with a high pick in Round two, they could end up with Alex Collins from Arkansas pretty easily. Collins averaged 5.8 yards per carry for the Razorbacks, against mostly SEC competition, gaining 1,577 yards and scoring 20 touchdowns.

The Browns do bring back a solid, if not spectacular defense led by linebacker Karlos Dansby and safety Donte Whitner.  Don’t be surprised to see Jackson raid the Bengals’ staff for his offensive and defensive coordinators. Jay Hayes, the Bengals defensive line coach, is probably on the phone with Jackson right now and seems more than ready to make the transition to calling his own defenses.

About Adam Greene

Adam Greene is a writer and photographer based out of East Tennessee. His work has appeared in USA Today, the Associated Press, the Chicago Cubs Vineline Magazine, and many other publications.

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