Browns' Jackson not pointing fingers, will "help" offense
By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Hue Jackson only wants to help. Honestly.
A day after Cleveland’s embattled coach strongly suggested he might take control of his team’s sputtering offense following an overtime loss at Tampa Bay, Jackson said he was merely offering assistance to coordinator Todd Haley and that he has no intention of calling plays.
Jackson said he spoke with Haley and that he plans to “infuse” himself into Cleveland’s offense.
“I still think that two heads are better than one in certain situations,” said Jackson, who served as Cleveland’s OC while going 1-31 during his first two seasons. “Obviously, somebody has to lead it and that is Todd’s job. But at the same time, if I see something where I can help and help us be a little bit better, I think that is my job, as well.”
As for his principal job, Jackson believes he still has the support of owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam despite his 3-35-1 record and the Browns’ inability to win tight games.
“No doubt. No doubt. None,” Jackson said of the Haslams’ backing. “No question.”
Why so confident, coach?
“Conversations,” he said without offering specifics.
But Jackson’s days could be dwindling if the Browns (2-4-1) don’t start stringing together some victories. On Sunday, they dropped their 24th straight road loss — two shy of tying the NFL record — when Tampa Bay’s Chandler Catanzaro kicked a 59-yard field goal. It was Cleveland’s fourth OT game already this season, and yet another example of a game the Browns could have won but found a way to lose.
Afterward, Jackson, who is now 3-14-1 in games decided by six points or less, grew irritated and defensive when pressed about his relationship with Haley, who came to Cleveland following six seasons with Pittsburgh. Jackson said his intention was not to butt heads with Haley and three times said, “I’m the head coach of the football team.”
Jackson explained he wasn’t criticizing Haley or any of his assistants and that his remarks were rooted in his passion to win.
“I think sometimes the way maybe it came off — and I take responsibility for that — was not in harshness of staff,” he said. “It was in harshness of ‘God, I want to win.’ I want to do whatever I think it is going to take to help our football team win. That is where my motivation was coming from.”
His comments rang hollow to some Browns fans irritated with the losing who want Jackson fired immediately. Twitter timelines filled with scathing comments about him and sports talk radio airwaves buzzed with anti-Jackson rants.
Jackson understands fans are angry. He is, too. But he’s more committed to building the Browns into a winner, and accepts full blame for their problems.
“When you’re a 1-31 coach from a year ago, everybody is going to take it as I am passing the buck,” he said. “People are going to feel the way that they feel. I am human just like anybody else, and I want to win. I want to assist. If there is an issue that I can help as a head coach, I would think that is something that you do. I did not feel like I said anything wrong.
“I know what I meant and I know what I said, and I still feel the same way today. I am not changing off of that. At the same time, people say, ‘He is not winning. He has to move it someplace else.’ That is not what I am trying to do. All of this falls squarely on me.”
While the Browns have been competitive and shown growth, they continue to be plagued by slow starts, mental mistakes and penalties. They were whistled 14 times for 114 yards against the Bucs, who picked up several key first downs on Cleveland infractions.
That’s not all on Jackson, who still seems to have his players’ attention.
Center JC Tretter, who played Sunday despite a sprained left ankle, said the Browns aren’t letting the losses divide them.
“We’re not frustrated to a point of fracture,” he said. “We’re frustrated because we’re not winning and we expect to win and the amount of preparation, the amount of work we put in, we feel that and we want to win. It’s frustrating. But it’s not to a point where we’re turning on each other or turning on the coaches.”
NOTES: RB Nick Chubb said he learned about Carlos Hyde’s trade to Jacksonville on Friday from one of his college coaches. “I didn’t believe it,” said Chubb, who gained 80 yards and scored a TD against the Bucs. “I got a call from Duke Johnson. We were surprised. We just talked it out. We didn’t understand why or what happened. It was a shock to everyone.” … Jackson has asked the NFL why Tampa Bay wasn’t flagged when QB Baker Mayfield was hit in the helmet. “That was disappointing,” Jackson said. “That is all that I can say.”
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