PITTSBURGH (92.3 The Fan) – When the Browns fired Sashi Brown as executive vice president of football operations on Dec. 7, owner Jimmy Haslam announced Hue Jackson would return as head coach in 2018.
It was an attempt to prevent any late season drama and clear the air for the final 4 games.
Yet no one seemed to believe him.
The following day Haslam doubled down during the introduction of new general manager John Dorsey by saying that not only would Jackson return next season but the expectation was that he’d remain the head coach for “years to come,” to the astonishment of just about everyone in the room – but Haslam.
And yet skepticism remained.
As of Sunday morning, all signs point to Haslam remaining true to his word and Jackson coming back while 6-10 coaching changes are expected around the NFL.
The Giants already fired Ben McAdoo. John Fox is likely out in Chicago while Chuck Pagano in Indianapolis, Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati and Jim Caldwell in Detroit are also probably done. The Oakland/soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders are reportedly pursuing Jon Gruden which puts Jack Del Rio on the hot seat.
Bill O’Brien has 1 year left on his contract in Houston, Bruce Arians has been rumored for weeks to be ready to exit in Arizona and there are rumblings the Tennessee Titans might also be considering a change depending on how their season ends.
So that would be a lot of competition for Haslam if he wanted to replace Jackson anyway.
Over the last 72 hours leading up to the season finale against the Steelers in Pittsburgh there has been zero indication from multiple sources that Haslam will change his mind. The belief internally is that no coaching change will be made regardless of the outcome in Pittsburgh.
0-16 and 1-31 will not cost Jackson his job.
Haslam has blown out coaches for much less than what Jackson has produced in 2 seasons, but competition from 6-10 other teams that are expected to make changes combined with a self-awareness for the volatility that has consumed the franchise since he bought the team might have saved Jackson’s job.
Haslam fired Pat Shurmur in 2013 after he went 9-23 in 2 seasons because he wanted to hire his own people.
Rob Chudzinski lasted 1 season – a 4-12 campaign in 2013 – that was a sign of things to come with the Haslams at the helm. The building ate itself from within and eventually then-CEO Joe Banner and then-GM Mike Lombardi eventually followed Chudzinski out the door.
Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer followed as the next coach-GM tandem. They too were a mismatch and the building once again ate itself from within following a promising 7-4 start in 2014 – the second and final year of their tenure which was mired by infighting and a texting scandal that resulted in a suspension for Farmer and a stiff fine for Haslam from the league.
This year switching out the top football executive appears to be the extent of the major changes, outside of hiring an offensive coordinator in the offseason.
The last 5 Browns coaches have met their demise following Week 17 losses to the Steelers dating back to Romeo Crennel in 2008. Depending on how the schedule-makers sort out the 2018 schedule, Jackson could still become the sixth.
It just won’t be this year.