CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – If Hue Jackson was going to cede control of his offense this offseason, it had to be to the right person.
Todd Haley was the right man for the job.
The hiring of the former Steelers’ offensive coordinator was officially announced by the Browns Wednesday along with Amos Jones as special teams coordinator and Freddie Kitchens as running backs/associate head coach.
But the addition of Haley is the headliner because Jackson refused to hire a coordinator to help with the offense for his first two years on the job that saw the team go 1-31, including a winless 2017 season.
“If I was going to turn over the play calling duties to someone else, it had to be to someone that was experienced and had a long history of success in this league,” Jackson said in a statement. “We were going to be patient about it because there is always a lot of movement in the early part of the offseason. When Todd became available, I jumped at the opportunity to meet with him. Once we sat down and talked, it became quickly evident that Todd would be a great fit.”
Haley became available when his contract was not renewed by the Steelers following their 45-42 divisional round loss to Jacksonville.
“The Browns have a great history, great fans and deserve to have some fun and experience some winning. I want to help be part of that process,” Haley said. “There is obviously a lot of work to do in order to get there, but I’ve always been excited about facing a challenge. There is no better feeling than when you can be a part of turning an organization around.
“Hue and I have had some good battles in competing against each other as coordinators and even as a head coach. We know each other well and I have a great deal of respect for him. He’s so competitive and winning is the only thing that’s important to him. You want to work with a coach like that. Hue and I share a lot of similar beliefs on how to be successful on offense. We have to score points, protect the ball, protect the quarterback and develop players. It’s not too complicated, but at the same time, it is a great challenge.”
Pittsburgh’s offense ranked third in 2017, seventh in 2016, third in 2015 and second in 2014 after being ranked 20th and 21st in 2013 and 2012 respectively.
“I’ve known Todd for a very long time and have respected and admired the job he’s done as a play-caller in this league,” Jackson said. “He’s a coordinator that has been successful in every place he’s been. He has been a guy that has adjusted his offense to successfully complement and taken advantage of the skillset of his personnel. I’ve witnessed firsthand how prolific his offenses have been in the AFC North over the last six seasons.”
Haley replaced Bruce Arians in 2012 as offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh where the Steelers have averaged the third most yards per play since. In the last four seasons Pittsburgh ranked behind only the Patriots in scoring but Haley also had a pair of prolific weapons – receiver Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell along with a franchise quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger, whom he reportedly clashed with.
Kitchens, who spent the past 11 seasons with the Arizona Cardinals including 2017 as running backs coach, was added to aid Haley’s implementation of the offense.
“We’re going to be installing a lot of new concepts and elements to our offense,” Jackson said. “It’s important to have coaches on your staff that will know and understand the new system. Freddie has a history with Todd and that will make the process of installing the new elements of the offense much more efficient.”
Jones also comes to the Browns from Arizona.
“I miss coaching in the AFC North, so getting back to this division is going to be very exciting for me,” Jones said. “It’s obviously a highly competitive division where the margin for error is small, so you have to be extremely sound as a special teams unit. I think I have a pretty good feel for the Cleveland fans and look at this as a great opportunity to come in and help flip the organization.”
After spending 21 years in the college ranks Jones’ NFL coaching career began in 2007 with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2007 as an assistant special teams coach and was promoted to special teams coordinator in 2012 before joining Arians in Arizona in the same capacity a year later.
Under Jones, Cardinals special teamer Justin Bethel made three straight Pro Bowl appearances and in 2014 rookie kicker Chandler Catanzaro tied the NFL record for most consecutive made field goals to start a career with 17 straight makes.
“Obviously, we have a lot of work to do this offseason,” Jackson said. “I’m excited about the additions we’ve made to our coaching staff, and I’m especially excited to work with Todd to put together a productive Cleveland Browns offensive system that will get us winning quickly.”