The Browns are the subject of Seth Wickersham of ESPN’s latest dive behind the scenes of an NFL franchise and one of the topics covered was the decision to hire Hue Jackson as the team’s head coach in 2016.
The move came shortly after Browns owner put Sashi Brown in charge of football operations along with an executive team that wanted to completely overhaul the franchise with a multi-year rebuild that borrowed from similar projects in other sports. That would mean a lot of losing and Wickersham reports that the group stressed that everyone in the organization “had to stick together” in order for it to work.
Per the report, the first big decision failed to meet that standard. The Browns met to discuss head coaching candidates and four of the five people in the room said their choice was Sean McDermott, who was then the Panthers defensive coordinator and is now the Bills head coach.
The lone holdout was Haslam, who reportedly preferred Jackson because he thought he “could relate better to players” and held firm despite pleas from Brown and chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta to reconsider. Haslam hired Jackson, who reported directly to the owners and butted heads with Brown’s department before Brown was let go late in 2017.
Jackson is now gone as well, but DePodesta remains in place with General Manager John Dorsey now running the football operations in Cleveland. Things are looking brighter than they have in some time on that front after a 7-8-1 2018 with Baker Mayfield starring in the second half, but Wickersham’s article is full of stories about why things were so dark for so long.