PITTSBURGH (92.3 The Fan) – 0-16 and 1-31 is not enough reason to fire head coach Hue Jackson.
Owner Jimmy Haslam said for the third time since firing Sashi Brown as executive vice president of football operations back on Dec. 7 that Jackson would return Sunday afternoon while standing mere feet from the Browns locker room at Heinz Field following their 28-24 loss to the Steelers.
“I don’t think anybody predicted 0-16, so that was disappointing,” Haslam said. “The progress has been uneven. We’ve got the ability or opportunity to move substantially forward this offseason for next year and that’s what we’ve got to do.
“Talk is cheap. It’s one thing to say it, we gotta go do it.”
Haslam, who reminded reporters that Jackson was the “hottest coaching candidate” just 2 years ago, is not of the belief that Jackson “has lost his magic on how to call plays or how to run an offense and it’s our job including John [Dorsey] to get him the players to do so.”
The Browns became the second team in NFL history joining the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams to go 0-16 in a season. Cleveland also set an NFL-record for the worst 2 season – 1-31 – and 3 season – 4-44 – stretch in league history.
“Jimmy’s message to me hasn’t changed,” Jackson said. “I don’t want anyone to think just because we’re 0-16 I’m going to walk out the door.”
Many fans are beside themselves that Jackson, who understands the criticism, is coming back after just 1 win in 2 years.
“I don’t get to determine that, Jimmy [Haslam] does, but I don’t think anybody else could’ve did this job,” Jackson said. “I don’t think a lot of people could’ve done this job so I understand where our fans are & hope in time that will change. They don’t like it now. I don’t like it any more than they do. This is the hand that they’re dealt, we’re dealt and we’ve got to fix it and that’s what we’re gonna do.”
Haslam does not blame Jackson for the team’s inability to win.
“You can say a lot of things about us this year but down to the last minute or 2 minutes our guys played hard,” Haslam said. “I think the primary job an NFL coach has to do is provide leadership and and I think Hue has provided great leadership.”
Haslam also denied and was angered when asked about rumblings within the Cleveland business community that the team could be for up for sale.
“That really aggravates me,” Haslam said. “Nothing could be further from the truth. Our commitment to the community and the team…our execution might not be very good and I’ll take all of the grief for that, but commitment you can’t question. I unequivocally say that is false and we plan on owning the Browns for a very long time and turn this franchise around.”
The Browns are 20-76 since the start of the 2012 season when it was announced the Haslams purchased the club for a billion dollars.
“Our record is unacceptable and we accept full responsibility for that,” Haslam said.
As another season ended Haslam once again preached hope for a big turnaround – and soon – for the floundering franchise.
“I’m not going to say this is going to be easy but I am confident we’ll do this,” Haslam said. “Some of you don’t know us that well. We don’t give up easily. We’re not going to give up. Is it disappointing? Hell yeah it’s disappointing. Is it discouraging? To a certain point but we’re going to get this done.”