Opinion: The conversation about Hue Jackson needs to start

Jack Kopanski

On Oct. 16, it will be 11 years since the famous rant from late Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green, during which he declared, “The (Chicago) Bears are who we thought they were!” 

The tirade came after the Cardinals blew a 20-point lead in heartbreaking and embarrassing fashion, putting the Cardinals at 1-5 early in the season.

Here, in 2017, the Cleveland Browns sit at 0-4 with two of the losses coming in horrendous fashion. While numerous areas of the team are faltering to create this on-the-field product, to paraphrase the great coach Green, Hue Jackson is not who we thought he was.

When Jackson was brought on before last season, all of Cleveland rejoiced. This football town finally got their first choice at head coach, and the rebuilding could begin.

Expectations were basement-low in his first year, and those expectations were met. Coming into year two, however, hope abounded that this team, full of youth and raw talent, would become the team Cleveland has talked about since 1999. 

After an impressive (by the Browns’ standards) performance in the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, there was reasonable excitement surrounding this team. DeShone Kizer looked like he was learning the system well, the defense looked serviceable and, while it wasn’t a perfect game, it was a great way to start the season.

Through the span of the last three games — consisting of giving the Ravens and Bengals two of their three combined wins, and a loss against a Colts team that might as well have been a junior varsity high school team — a couple things have become painstakingly clear, mostly about coach Jackson.

First, his play-calling has become a severe hindrance to this team. The team has no identity offensively and fails to utilize the talent they do have when needed or as a way to set up one facet of the game as a backbone of the offense.

I have not seen a Browns team more in need of an offensive coordinator than this one.

Second, it’s time to admit Hue is not the quarterback wizard he somehow developed the reputation for being. Last season, with Cody Kessler, the quarterback that Jackson wanted to draft, Cleveland was able to stay in games, but he was never the kind of quarterback anybody could trust to be a field general.

Now, after Kizer won the job out of the preseason and looked impressive in his four appearances, he leads the league in interceptions and at times looks like a lost puppy in the pocket. Kizer is young and still learning the system. I understand that. 

But good God, you’d think a coach that is as “good with quarterbacks” as Hue supposedly is would be able to work a rookie through early technical flaws.

What needs to happen, though, is that Cleveland’s executive vice president Sashi Brown and chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta need to sit down and talk Jackson through whatever is going on with him and do what they have to do to make his job easier.

Let me be clear: I am not calling for Jackson’s job, not yet.

Now, should they lose to the New York Jets next weekend in front of a home crowd, all bets are off.

Jack Kopanski is a columnist, contact him at [email protected]