Browns’ Jackson denies job in jeopardy
CLEVELAND (AP) — Once Hue Jackson stopped laughing, he got serious.
A day after dropping to 0-13 for the second straight season and 1-28 in his two years coaching the Browns, Jackson said he doesn’t believe a report that new Cleveland general manager John Dorsey wants to hire his own coach.
“That is not the feeling that I get at all,” Jackson told reporters on a conference call Monday. “I’m focused on the task at hand, which is doing everything I can to work to win games here. I can’t really concern myself with those things, but I can honestly tell all of you, I don’t think that is the case at all.”
Dorsey, who had a successful four-year run as Kansas City’s GM, was hired last week by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam to turn around his moribund franchise. While he fired vice president of football operations Sashi Brown, Haslam announced Jackson would return in 2018 despite the team’s struggles.
However, Haslam’s backing of Jackson has been questioned in some NFL circles, leading to speculation that a change could be coming at the end of the season.
Jackson won’t doubt his boss.
“You have to trust in what he said,” Jackson said. “I know I do. I don’t see it any other way, personally, myself. I think what he said is what he meant. That is what I believe and that is what I know.”
With their 27-21 overtime loss to Green Bay on Sunday, the Browns, who blew a 14-point lead in the second half, became the first team in league history to go 0-13 in consecutive seasons.
The loss stung in so many ways, mostly because the Browns were seconds away from their first win before giving up a 65-yard punt return that led to Green Bay’s tying touchdown with 17 seconds left in regulation.
It was Dorsey’s first opportunity to see what kind of team he’s inherited, and the long-time executive and former linebacker spent time in the locker room after the game talking to players. Dorsey sat down with rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, who threw an interception in OT to set up Green Bay’s winning TD.
Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey said Dorsey has quickly made an impression on the team.
“He’s ready to get out there and put this team in the best position to win,” Kirksey said. “He knows a lot about football. He’s a football guy. He has seen a lot. He knows a lot. He’s just telling us that now is the time to start winning, put it all together, getting the right guys out there and just playing ball.”
On Monday, Dorsey met with Jackson, who said their dissection of the loss was unlike his session with Brown.
“It was much different,” Jackson said. “We got together early and really talked through the game and just continued to dialogue on what we need to continue to do better to get the team better and how we see the football team. It was a real back-and-forth conversation, which was really good.”
Dorsey’s work has just begun, but before he can start considering what he may do with two first-round draft picks next season and upward of $100 million in salary cap space, the Browns have to complete a season headed for unwanted history.
Cleveland is three losses from matching the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams to go 0-16.
The Browns host Baltimore this week before concluding the season with road games at Chicago and Pittsburgh.
For some players, the thought of a winless season is unimaginable.
“You definitely don’t walk into the season thinking you are going to go 0-13,” said guard Joel Bitonio.
“Unfortunately for us this year, the losses have piled up. It is tough. It really sucks. We are doing everything on our part to try to be better and try to get those wins. It is really unfortunate.”
Jackson wasn’t pleased that WR Josh Gordon got into a Twitter exchange with Packers CB Damarious Randall a day after the game. The players took turns exchanging insulting messages, with Randall taking things to an extreme when he referenced Gordon’s battle with drug and alcohol addiction. “I want us to do our talking on the field with our play,” Jackson said. “That’s where the focus needs to be because that’s what it’s going to take to get us to winning. Talking isn’t going to do anything.” … Jackson didn’t have a problem with Gordon and WR Corey Coleman wearing sunglasses on the sideline after scoring touchdowns. The showboating for a winless team drew some criticism. “Look, Jackson said. “If that means those guys are going to keep scoring touchdowns, I will buy them some Ray-Ban glasses.”