In what ranks as the best endorsement Hue Jackson ever will receive, Joe Thomas wrote his endorsement of the Browns’ move to retain their head coach. Jackson should print it out and frame it.
Thomas wrote a Sports Illustrated column stating his case.
“I’m glad that the Browns, a team I’ve proudly spent my entire pro career with, decided to retain Hue Jackson as head coach after two awful seasons in the standings,” Thomas wrote. “It wouldn’t be fair to judge Hue based on his record after just two seasons because few NFL teams have put themselves at such a disadvantage in order to save assets and focus on winning three or four years down the road.
“. . . As the head coach, Hue was expected to hold the team together, develop players and get them to play hard when everyone in the building knew the front office put us in the best position to lose. It’s hard to split hairs on that comment.”
Thomas, who has spent 11 seasons in Cleveland, praised management for not caving to media and public pressure to fire Jackson in light of the coach’s comment that no one “else could’ve done this job for the past two years.”
“He took a lot of heat for it because it was perceived he was talking about the record,” Thomas wrote. “But he was talking about the way this team fought to the end, the way the players prepared and went out and played with as much passion and toughness and intensity as they did. There was nothing on the line; there was no reason to do it. But they still gave their best effort to the last play.”
Thomas ended his column by giving the Browns a fighting chance of making the postseason in 2018 given new General Manager John Dorsey has salary-cap space and high draft picks to use.
“We have more than $100 million in cap space; we could sign three Kirk Cousins if we wanted to,” Thomas wrote. “We could legitimately add three Hall of Fame players in free agency if they’re out there. We have an upcoming No. 1 pick who could transform the roster by himself. You throw an experienced quarterback in the mix and there’s nothing that says the Browns can’t make the playoffs next year.”
Thomas is good at more than just football. When he retires, Thomas will have a media job — or jobs — waiting for him with outlets fighting for his services.