For the first time in 64 games, the Cleveland Browns accomplished the otherwise very minor feat of winning consecutive games this past Sunday. They are threatening to become a .500 team, or close to it, this season after going 0-16 last year. And nobody seems to be missing Hue Jackson at this point.
That includes the quarterback that he finally drafted after passing over Carson Wentz and others in the last couple of years. Following Sunday’s victory over Jackson’s new-old team, the Cincinnati Bengals, Baker Mayfield wasn’t too impressed by his former head coach.
After the game, Mayfield declined to give Jackson a hug, instead only offering a handshake. Reporters asked him about it after the game, and he criticized Jackson for joining a rival. “That’s just somebody that’s in our locker room, asking us to play for him, and then goes to a team we play twice a year? Everybody can have their spin on it, but that’s how I feel”.
He elaborated even further later on in the week, coming out and saying outright, “I didn’t like the move, and people don’t have to care. I’m not looking for anybody’s approval. I don’t regret any of it. It’s about this team and what we have and we have to stick together and play together”.
He added that there were “things that happened inside the building” he would not go into detail about, and called Jackson “fake” in an Instagram post that was in response to a critical commentary from ESPN that criticized the quarterback for how he handled the situations with his former head coach on Sunday.
Jackson certainly seemed to burn a lot of bridges when he decided to join the Bengals mid-season after he was fired by the Browns. I’m not sure how often it happens, but it has to be incredibly rare for a head coach to be fired in the middle of a season only to accept a position of lower standing within the same season, and to a division rival at that. Many coaches even end up taking a year off.
So far this season, Mayfield has clearly been the best quarterback among the rookie starters and currently has a 3-5 record, though for practical purposes it should be 4-5. He is completing 63 percent of his pass attempts, averaging 7.2 yards per attempt, and has thrown 17 touchdowns to seven interceptions and adding another 107 rushing yards. He has thrown seven touchdowns to zero interceptions over the team’s past two games.
At the moment, it is looking reasonable that the Browns could end up being the second-best team in the AFC North as early as 2019. They still need to surround Mayfield with another quality wide receiver or two, and obviously find a head coach, but the light at the end of the tunnel for Cleveland might finally be real, and not a mirage.