“What a tremendous honor and privilege to be the head coach of the Cleveland Browns and a part of the Dawg Pound,” Jackson said in a statement. “I’m so looking forward to it and have so many people to thank; obviously Jimmy and Dee Haslam for this opportunity, going through the process of meeting Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta. What an exciting time to have an opportunity to work with people like that.”
Scout's Hayden Grove provided a video of Jackson arriving at the facility:
Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports reported that Jackson "hit it off" with the Browns front office during his interview Sunday. Albert Breer of NFL Network claimed that new Browns executive vice president Sashi Brown "came off very well in the process of pursuing" Jackson, giving Cleveland fans even more reason for optimism.
However, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the team was also heavily interested in Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. Had Patricia been interested in the job, Rapoport notes the Browns would have interviewed him again. Since he hadn't expressed interest, the Browns focused all their attention on Jackson.
Owner Jimmy Haslam spoke about the move in the Browns' release:
It’s very exciting for us to name Hue Jackson as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. He embodies all the qualities that will provide strong leadership for our football team. He is highly experienced, deeply passionate about winning, and relentless in trying to find ways to put his players in the best position to succeed. He possesses that unique ability to reach the entire locker room in a way that demands accountability while getting the buy-in and team-first mentality that leads to positive results. I think our players will love playing for him. Dee and I warmly welcome Hue and his family to Cleveland.
Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer noted that Brown will maintain final say of the 53-man roster despite Jackson's hire.
Peter King of Sports Illustrated provided insight into Jackson's choice, noting he'd have "been sick if he let Cleveland job go, then got stuck without a job when other jobs filled" because he "wanted badly" to be a head coach, and the Browns made an offer.
"They made me feel comfortable," Jackson said, per Michael Silver of NFL Network.
Jackson, 50, has spent the past two seasons running the Cincinnati Bengals offense. He spent one year as the Oakland Raiders' head coach in 2011, going 8-8 before being fired after new general manager Reggie McKenzie decided to bring in his own head coach in his rebuilding effort.
Jackson has been in the NFL since 2001 and has served on the coaching staffs of Washington, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Baltimore and Oakland. He had one-season stints as the offensive coordinator in Washington, Atlanta and Oakland before his current gig with the Bengals.
Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth provided a statement via text message to Breer on what Jackson will bring to his new team:
Text from Bengals OT/captain Andrew Whitworth on what the Browns are getting in new head coach Hue Jackson ... pic.twitter.com/NPEGiRerNX— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 13, 2016
Andy Dalton has shown marked improvement with Jackson at the helm, namely this season, when the quarterback threw for 3,250 yards, 25 touchdowns and just seven interceptions in 13 games, completing a career-high 66.1 percent of his passes.
Jackson did well to utilize all of Cincy's weapons, bringing a balanced offense to the perennial playoff contenders. Bucky Brooks of NFL.com praised the coordinator in late December:
It's time to appreciate Hue Jackson's creativity and aggressiveness as a play caller. @Bengals offense is a headache to prepare for..— Bucky Brooks (@BuckyBrooks) December 29, 2015
The Browns will be hoping for that type of balance and success in 2016. Jackson was one of the more sought-after coaching options this year, so Cleveland has to be thrilled to land him. He'll be tasked with turning around an organization that suffered through a disappointing 3-13 campaign in 2015.