CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – After a 1-22 start in Cleveland, the hope that Hue Jackson will ever turn the Browns from the laughingstock loser they are today into a respected perennial power appear to be as slim as a sheet a paper.
To almost everyone except Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer.
“Hue is a heck of a football coach. He is tough. He is smart. He is a great competitor,” Zimmer said Wednesday in a conference call with Cleveland reporters before the Vikings flew to London for Sunday’s game. “I know that it is taking him a little bit longer than what he has anticipated, but he is going to get that thing turned around. That is the kind of guy he is. He will never stop or relax until he gets it all right.
“Really, they are not that far away. They are really good on defense, and they just turn the ball over offensively.”
Zimmer does have a point.
The Browns’ defense, although allowing an average of 24.1 points per game, which ranks 24th league-wide, is vastly improved under first-year defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and is ranked in the top-10 in yards allowed per game (9) and run defense (6).
“It means I paid him,” Jackson said when asked about Zimmer’s comments. “No, just kidding. Mike is – and he said it – he is one of my really close friends and I have a lot of respect for him. He is one of the best football coaches in pro football in my opinion because he can get guys to play and they played hard. He has a vision for his football team and the way they play on defense is Mike Zimmer style. They are really talented, really good football team.
“I appreciate the things that he says, but I think he knows me extremely well. I don’t like being in the situation I am in and I want to do something about it as fast as I can and we will. We are just not there yet, but we will get there.”
Zimmer admitted that he might be a little biased because he and Jackson are close friends. Jackson attended his daughter’s wedding, they’ve worked together and they always make it a point to spend time together when they’re in the same city.
Offensively the Browns remain one of the worst in the league and Jackson continues to treat rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer like a yo-yo. Kizer has thrown a league-high 11 interceptions this season and just 3 touchdowns while completing only 52.0 percent of his passes while the Browns are dead last scoring an average of just 14.7 points per game.
The Browns and Vikings play Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. eastern, 1:30 p.m. local time at Twickenham Stadium in London.