BEREA, Ohio — Hue Jackson apologized to Cleveland Browns fans Monday for two years of misery that included an 0-16 finish in 2017.
“[Winning] is the one thing I came here for, and I have not delivered that to this organization or the football team; for that I apologize,” Jackson said Monday at his end of season news conference. “I promise you this: I am going to do everything in my power from this moment on with the help and resources within our organization to get this organization turned to winning.
“I understand the disappointment that all feel right now because I think we are all working through it, but I know one thing, we are going to do everything we can as an organization to get the Cleveland Browns to where we feel they are a winning football team.”
Jackson added he is “grateful and thankful” that Dee and Jimmy Haslam brought him back to coach in 2018. But there was no sugarcoating the season that just concluded, the second winless season in a 16-game season in NFL history. The historic nature of a winless season isn’t lost on anyone in the team’s facility.
“This is going to be next to my name for the rest of my life,” Jackson said. “This is part of my legacy now, some of the players that are here, the coaches that are here, everybody.”
“Hopefully they forget my name as the years go by,” cornerback Jason McCourty said. “I don’t know … terrible thing to be a part of.”
The BBC even wrote about the winless season after Sunday’s finale. Jackson called it “awful” and said the label will put the Browns “in a war for talent on every front,” including convincing a player like UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen that the Browns would be a good team to join.
“The stigma that comes with that is that we are going to have to do some recruiting everywhere,” Jackson said. “First of all, not just players, we have to re-recruit our fans.”
If social media is any indication, fans are furious with the record and the retention of the coach.
Jackson said there is only one way to fix that: Win some games. As soon as possible.
“Nothing I say is going to make a difference,” Jackson said.
On the field, Jackson said he expects Josh Gordon to stay and “be a contributing member” of the team, and DeShone Kizer definitely will be in the quarterback competition for 2018.
And though he did not firmly commit to hiring an offensive coordinator, Jackson all but said he would — and give the new person playcalling responsibilities.
“I have said before that at some point in time I would like to do [that] differently because I think it is important to coach the team,” Jackson said.
Jackson will make the hire, not general manager John Dorsey.
Staff decisions will come after Jackson takes time to reflect on the staff, but there could be more major changes coming. Some coaches, weary of the losing and culture, might prefer to move on, two league sources said. A year ago, Jackson talked about evaluating, then moved very quickly to hire defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Williams will be retained, according to a league source.
Because all the current coaches are under contract, Jackson and the Browns would have to release them. But with several teams looking for a coach, there will be plenty of openings.
A qualified candidate in-house for offensive coordinator would be running game coordinator Kirby Wilson, but Jackson did not commit that Wilson would be considered.
“I will go back through and look at everything, all the guys that are on our staff and all of those things,” he said. “That is going to be a little time.”
With coaches like Jim Caldwell and John Fox fired, Jackson said he understands he is fortunate to be part of the Browns’ future.
“I get it,” Jackson said. “There are a lot of guys who have better records and all of that who are being let go. I am very fortunate and blessed as I said earlier.”