BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Even as the Browns continue the dreadful, yet seemingly inevitable, march to 0-16 head coach Hue Jackson does not expect owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam to change their minds about keeping him and his staff for 2018.
“I unequivocally believe without question that what Jimmy Haslam said is what is going to happen here,” Jackson said Wednesday. “There is nothing that anybody has said to me to make me feel differently.”
Haslam wrote in a statement announcing Sashi Brown’s firing as executive vice president of football operations that Jackson would return and reiterated it during the introduction of new general manager John Dorsey the following day, but speculation about his future continues to make national headlines.
It also hasn’t helped that Dorsey has yet to fully endorse Jackson despite both speaking glowingly of their working relationship since Dorsey’s arrival on Dec. 8.
“I respect that,” Jackson said. “I think everybody can have their opinion. I can’t go by what everybody else thinks or what everybody else wants. I can only go by the people who employ me, who believe in what I’m trying to do here and what I believe they are trying to do here.
“You can’t sugarcoat it. There is no way around it. The record is what it is. This is where we are so we have to find a way to climb out of this hole as fast as we can and get to where I think we should be.”
The Browns are an NFL-record worst 1-30 under Jackson, which is why the prospect of him returning next season remains downright stupefying to fans who are planning to lampoon the team should the Browns finish 0-16 with a parade/protest around FirstEnergy Stadium on Jan. 6.
Mike Pettine went 10-22, Pat Shurmur 9-23 and Rob Chudzinski was 4-12. Those 3 coaches were all fired by Haslam, who has committed to keeping the coach that is about to go O-fer 2017 and 1-31.
“Jimmy has never wavered. Jimmy has never wavered with me not one time,” Jackson said. “Jimmy has always been supportive, him and Dee. I really thank them for that because I could not sit up here if I did not have their support. Instead of jumping in the river, I would be laying on the floor. That is what keeps me going is the support from management, the support from my team, the support from the staff and the people who truly believe.”
The one and only thing that Jackson has going for him is that his team clearly has not quit. Their execution has been on par with 0-15, but the effort is there week in and week out.
“He’s our coach. We want to have his back. We’re gonna fight for him,” left guard Joel Bitonio said. “The Haslams have had his back and said he’s going to be their guy. So as a team, we’re thinking that way and we’re still working to try to impress the new GM [John Dorsey].”
Contrary to a ProFootballTalk.com report over the weekend that Jackson has lost the locker room, nothing could be further from the truth despite recent comments blaming the team’s roster and lack of enough quality players for their record.
Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, who was benched on 4 occasions this season by Jackson, praised him Wednesday when asked how Jackson has made him a better football player.
“There have been so many things that I have learned from protections to mechanics to understanding how to be a leader to all of the different things that go into the quarterback position,” Kizer said. “He has been kind of my mentor throughout this year. With that, he has turned me from the immature college player I was last year to what I believe to be a professional.”
There isn’t a player that seems the least bit fazed by the reality that they are about to go 0-16 as a team. Their heads seem to be buried in the sand – or in this case, snow – but their support for Jackson is unwavering.
“Hue is a good coach. He is a players’ coach,” linebacker Christian Kirksey said. “I don’t like getting into who should be here and who shouldn’t. Whoever is here, they are going to be our leader, and right now, Hue is our leader.”
And Jackson continues to talk like there is absolutely no chance that is going to change regardless of opinions that it should.