Frustrations are mounting within the Browns organization following this past Sunday’s overtime loss at Tampa Bay. After the game, coach Hue Jackson blasted the team’s performance, throwing blame on his offensive coordinator, Todd Haley.
WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says it appears the game at Tampa was a tipping point for a team that keeps losing close games.
Attacking the offense
The Browns have scored just four touchdowns in their last three games. Asked about that performace in his post-game press conference, Jackson said that he needed to infuse himself more into play-calling.
He said he would jump in "head-first, all hands, feet and everything" to help the team’s offense.
“It certainly sounded like he was going to take away quite a bit of power from Todd Haley,” Pluto said.
Then Jackson added, "I'm the head coach of the football team, period. There's nothing else that needs to be said. Nothing. That's the way it works. I'm the head coach of the football team. That's it.”
“I have never seen a head coach go after a coordinator that hard in a post-game press conference like that,” Pluto said.
The Jackson/Haley dynamic
Jackson handled all of the play-calling during his first two seasons as head coach, when the team went 1-31. He then brought in Haley, who had just been fired from Pittsburgh, to be his offensive coordinator.
On Monday, Jackson walked back his comments, saying, "I never said I'd take over the play calling (from Haley)."
Before those comments, Pluto said he agreed with Jackson about the offensive woes.
“The quarterback, Baker Mayfield is getting sacked too much. They played terrible first quarters. They’ve only scored six points, two field goals in the first quarter of games. Also, they’ve also not been able to develop a good identity of how we want to play. If he would have just said that and said it was stuff they all needed to work on, it would have been fine.”
Shifting the blame
Still, Pluto said Jackson appeared to be shifting the blame.
“It carries over into families and business, when we are feeling frustrated and emotional and somebody maybe isn’t doing the job the way we’d like them to do it or behaving the way we’d like them to, the last thing we want to do is rip that person apart in a public setting,” he said.
"They could take that press conference and show it in managerial seminars and family relations as a tape what you don’t do. It makes it looks like Hue is pointing the finger. And when you’re losing or struggling in a family or your business is not hitting the bottom line, the last thing you want to do is pull those fingers out and start pointing them in another direction when you’re the head coach.”
And, Pluto says it happened when Haley wasn’t there to defend himself. “The coordinators don’t speak until Thursday, so we won’t hear from him until then.”
Firing Jackson mid-season?
As for Jackson’s job, Pluto says he’s not in favor of firing a coach mid-season.
“Interim coaches rarely work, unless there is someone available right now who the Browns would want to be the full-time coach next season.”
Pluto said Jackson is most definitely feeling the pressure. His record is 3-35-1 in three seasons, and he has yet to win a road game. The road losing streak is at 19 heading into Sunday's game in Pittsburgh.
“I know that Jimmy Haslam, the owner, and John Dorsey the general manager, cannot be happy with how this is going down.”