After a rough start to the season, Cleveland has finally made the coaching change it needed a lot sooner.
Hue Jackson, a head coach who won three games in two seasons as the Cleveland Browns head coach, is out of a job. It’s a long time coming, especially for anyone who was actually paying attention to what was happening in Cleveland. Hard Knocks was a glimpse inside of the madness and the chaos was alarming.
Yet, despite hiring a new general manager and drafting a franchise quarterback with the first pick in last year’s draft, the Browns didn’t make a change at head coach until after Week 8. We also learned that Todd Haley, offensive coordinator and resident instigator, was also fired. Rather than choose between what was apparently the lesser of two evils, John Dorsey decided to ring in Halloween by banishing both ghouls to football hell together.
The Browns finally have some direction
There were reports on Monday that Jimmy Haslam didn’t actually want to fire Hue, but not because he wanted him to stick around long term. Charles Robinson from Yahoo! Sports reported that Haslam was hesitant to blow up the coaching staff in the middle of the season but general manager John Dorsey insisted that the fractured relationship between Haley and Jackson wasn’t contributory to success.
Hence, (surprisingly) firing both problems and dynamite blasting a sense of direction through the stone wall.
Killing off two main characters of the clown show in Cleveland seems to imply a lack of direction, but John Dorsey has earned more credit that. He helped put a system in place in Kansas City that has produced a potential Super Bowl winning team and has established himself as a premier talent evaluator in the league. He’s the guy you want building the Frankenstein monster, especially because he’s already shown a willingness to get dirty doing it.
Who will be the head coach next year?
Lincoln Riley is going to be a common thread name throughout whatever future head coach lists you stumble upon. He has a connection with Baker Mayfield from their time together at Oklahoma and he fits the mold of a young college football head coach who is both popular and running a system that people think will work in the NFL. He’s not the first guy to be mentioned like this and won’t be the first to either succeed or fail. Riley is going to be mentioned as a head coaching candidate for anyone who fires their head coach this year, but his closest link is in Cleveland.
Josh McDaniels will be mentioned but he’s spurned the Browns once and then did the Colts even dirtier last offseason. John DeFilippo is going to be a popular name who only gets more attractive the better he does with the Minnesota Vikings offense. Stringing together back-to-back seasons where he does wonders for a quarterback (Carson Wentz/Nick Foles last year and Kirk Cousins this year) will make the idea of him coaching up Baker an easy one to sell.
Don’t sleep on Jim Bob Cooter as a potential dark horse. He’s quietly become one of the best offensive coordinators in the league buy coaching Matthew Stafford in Detroit and was an offensive quality control coach under Andy Reid in Kansas City for a year. Plus, we deserve to live in a world where The Adventure of Jim Bob and Baker is a regular thing on Sunday afternoons.
Make Baker Mayfield a Player/Coach
Just kidding, don’t do that. Or do it so that we can at least be as fully entertained by the Browns this season as humanly possible.
But seriously, the future is Baker
He’s the guy that this team is going to build around, and rightfully so. It all ties back into the idea that the direction for this team is going to be seen through the lens of John Dorsey. He’s the guy who bet his future on Baker by taking him with the No. 1 overall pick and now all important decisions will be influenced on how they help Baker succeed.
Whoever is hired as the head coach will be an offensive-minded guy who can develop Baker and a system in which he can thrive. The free agency and draft decisions will be based on how to either help give him as many weapons as needed or to fortify the defense to maximize support on that side of the ball.
All of the Haley-Jackson drama was a MacGuffin; fugazi fairy dust that distracted us from what was really going on. This was and always will be about Baker and Dorsey rescuing the Browns and now that vision is starting to become a lot clearer.