If there has been one persistent, overarching theme about the Cleveland Browns that has carried itself through the length of this offseason, it seems, to me at least, to be the extent to which there has been an evident ‘all hands on deck’ approach coming out in support of, and belief in, first-year Browns head coach Hue Jackson.
Jackson, a former head coach of the Raiders for one year, has spent the past few years in a variety of roles with the Bengals, the last two years serving as offensive coordinator. I wrote earlier this offseason that there was even a succession plan talked about in Cincinnati in which Jackson would take over the head coaching duties in a couple years’ time.
That never came to be put in writing, and the sought-after coach left to take the job in Cleveland. Even those reporting on the team have suggested that the level of enthusiasm and confidence in the Browns’ new head coach has been a unique phenomenon with the team since they returned to the league.
Earlier in the offseason, toward the end of the Browns’ spring drills, Aditi Kinkhabwala noted via Twitter that over half of the team’s 90-man roster was in the building over a weekend during which they had off, in contrast to previous offseasons, hinting toward a culture change supported by players’ belief in the coaching staff.
She went on, Tweeting, “I’m just going to say this. I have NEVER heard this many players rave this much and this uniformly about a new head coach”. Later in the day that she posted that, she also got an opportunity to speak with Browns legend Jim Brown.
On Jackson, Brown said, “I’m looking forward to great things. And I don’t say that too often about too many people”. You might remember that he never quite gave Trent Richardson a ringing endorsement after Cleveland drafted him third overall a few years back.
“He energized me”, Brown said of Jackson. “And I’m just one of many that he’s done that for”. When Kinkhabwaka asked if it was “foolish to be drinking [the] Hue Kool-Aid”, he responded by saying “only a fool couldn’t see it!”, referring to the energy that he brings to the team.
The previous Browns regime brought in veteran free agent cornerback Tramon Williams last year. Williams was a part of the Packers team that beat the Steelers in the Super Bowl at the end of the 2010 season, so he knows what it takes to get there.
He says he’s “all in” with Jackson, saying “if you can get and breed confidence into a group of guys that have that ability, that says a lot”.
“I really commend what he’s come in here and done so far”, the veteran said. “A lot of coaching staffs and coaches, some guys just don’t know how to get the best out of their players”. He sees in Jackson a coach that will get everything out of this roster, something that might not have been the case in years past.