Ah, Cleveland. The Browns have long been a respite for Pittsburgh Steelers fans who have become frustrated with the state of their own team, knowing that they could always pop in and check on the Cleveland Browns to see what their latest dysfunction is. it almost always is assuredly worse than whatever is going on in the South Side.
You learn a lot more about what’s going on when you’re featured on a television show, too, and one thing that we got to see was a bit of a blowup involving one of our own alumni, former offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who now reigns in the same position with the Browns.
During an episode of Hard Knocks, he and similarly loud and gruff defensive coordinator Gregg Williams got into a bit of a disagreement as it pertains to the level of protection that ought to be afforded to the quarterback position in a practice setting.
There was a moment in one practice during which a defensive player actually made contact with rookie first-overall pick Baker Mayfield. This drew Haley’s ire for obvious reasons, which got him shouting at Williams. “Don’t touch the [blanking] quarterback in practice!”, he yelled. “Good teams don’t do that!”.
Meanwhile, the Steelers just sent their franchise quarterback to the concussion protocol after he tripped and fell, hitting his head on the ground, after making friendly-fire contact with one of his offensive linemen. Sometimes it just happens.
Williams, who was once nearly banished from the league for extreme negligence with regards to player safety (to put it mildly), responded to his counterpart by saying, in so many words, that if you don’t want the quarterback touched, you better block for him.
Head Coach Hue Jackson downplayed the incident, which continued beyond that initial exchange, saying that he likes it “a little testy” and that he loves “the fire in both of them”. Does he really? Probably not. And I’m sure he doesn’t want Mayfield getting touched up in practice either.
I have to say that just from a personal perspective, I’ve found it pretty amusing to observe Haley in a new setting, and I’ve been very curious how he is going to function moving from essentially his dream job with the Steelers to a team that can barely even stumble into a rare win from time to time.
There have certainly been a few incidents already in which he seems simply exasperated by how things are done in Cleveland, as though, to him, he suddenly realizes that it’s perfectly obvious why they can’t win any games. Touching your quarterback in practice? Giving unproven rookies rest days? “Good teams don’t do that!”.