Hue Jackson Will Return as Browns Head Coach Despite 0-16 Season

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 31, 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 27:  Head coach Hue Jackson of the Cleveland Browns looks on during the third quarter against the New York Giants at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 27, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Despite the Cleveland Browns finishing 0-16 in 2017 following Sunday's 28-24 defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Hue Jackson will apparently return for a third year as the team's head coach.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam told reporters after the game he intends to retain Jackson for 2018, Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot reported.

All signs seemingly pointed to Jackson's departure from Cleveland with the conclusion of the season. 

For one, the team fired Sashi Brown as the executive vice president of football operations and hired John Dorsey to replace him as the new general manager. The assumption was a new front office would want a new head coach.

There's also the fact Jackson has failed the one task he was supposed to address.

According to NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala‏, Haslam told Dorsey when he hired him that Jackson wasn't going anywhere this offseason. Haslam also said he doesn't believe Jackson "has lost [his] magic."

Jackson remained somewhat defiant in the face of the NFL's second-ever 0-16 campaign.

"I don't think anyone else could've done this job for the past two years," he said, per Cabot. "I don't think we're as far away as many people think we are."

During Jackson's two years as the Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator, the Bengals ranked 18th and then second in offensive efficiency, according to Football Outsiders.

Jackson was also the Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator in 2010 before taking over as head coach in 2011. He inherited a unit that ranked 30th in offensive efficiency. Over the next two years, the Raiders climbed to 23rd and then 14th.

Given his offensive expertise, Jackson seemed a perfect fit for a team that had failed to find a franchise quarterback in nearly two decades.

However, the Browns remained one of the worst offensive teams in the league in 2016. They ranked 30th in total offense (311.0 yards per game), 28th in passing offense (204.0 yards per game) and 19th in rushing offense (107.0 yards per game).

Things didn't get much better in 2017. The Browns were sitting 32nd in offensive efficiency prior to Week 17.

Holding the offense's failures solely against Jackson would be unfair, though. Cleveland started three quarterbacks in 2016—Robert Griffin III, Josh McCown and Cody Kessler—and 2017 second-round pick DeShone Kizer is clearly a work in progress.

Still, Jackson unquestionably deserves some culpability in Kizer's lack of growth as a rookie. The Browns threw Kizer into the starting role before he was ready and compounded their mistake by replacing Kizer with Kessler and Kevin Hogan throughout the season.

It's hard to imagine how Jackson could've handled Kizer any worse, and now Kizer is essentially a lost cause. Almost everybody expects Cleveland to select a quarterback with the first overall pick in the 2018 draft.

There's no question the Browns' internal dysfunction has hindered Jackson.

Since returning to the NFL in 1999, the team has cycled through eight different full-time head coaches and a slew of general managers. The hiring of Brown and Jackson was supposed to set off a long-term vision for the franchise, and the Browns basically hit the reset button again after two seasons by firing Brown and bringing in Dorsey.

But whereas ownership received justifiable criticism in the past for being impatient, it now has to argue in favor of keeping a coach almost universally disliked by the fanbase. The team's patience in Jackson may prove to be a smart decision in due time, but nobody will be surprised if the Browns are looking for a new head coach at some point in 2018.

Related

    Garrett an Important Player to Follow in Training Camp

    Cleveland Browns logo
    Cleveland Browns

    Garrett an Important Player to Follow in Training Camp

    Gary Davenport
    via Bleacher Report

    Can David Njoku Go from Good to Great in '18?

    Cleveland Browns logo
    Cleveland Browns

    Can David Njoku Go from Good to Great in '18?

    Brent Sobleski
    via Bleacher Report

    Report: Breeland Visiting Raiders, Chiefs

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Report: Breeland Visiting Raiders, Chiefs

    Kyle Newport
    via Bleacher Report

    The Hamilton Tiger-Cats May Want to Use Finally Manziel

    NFL logo
    NFL

    The Hamilton Tiger-Cats May Want to Use Finally Manziel

    Mike Florio
    via ProFootballTalk