Time for the Haslams to silence the quarterback whisperer

(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson is on thin ice and it is time that owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam set some new ground rules.

The Cleveland Browns were quiet as the NFL’s trade deadline came and went on Tuesday afternoon.

But, oh my, the noise surrounding the team was deafening and we can all thank head coach Hue Jackson for that.

It started late Monday night after the news broke that the San Francisco 49ers had given up a second-round draft pick for New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Soon after, NFL Network’s Michael Silver sent out a Tweet that Jackson wanted Garoppolo but of course the front office wouldn’t go along with him.

A series of Tweets from Denver radio host Benjamin Allbright followed, detailing a series of emails reportedly from unnamed members of the coaching staff claiming that the front office shuts down at 5 p.m. (And since this is 1957 and not 2017, even if true there is no way to reach anyone once they leave team headquarters.)

Cleveland Browns
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Then came the boondoggle that was the attempt to trade for Cincinnati Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron. Somehow the Browns avoided parting with a pair of draft picks through sheer luck (or a couple of Ivy League guys being smarter than everyone else in the room) for a quarterback that can’t beat out Andy Dalton.

That was followed by a Pro Football Talk report of Dee Haslam going “nuclear” on the front office staff for not being willing to sabotage the team to appease Jackson, the alleged “quarterback whisperer.”

It is now two days later and it is still so very exhausting.

When you start to unpack everything, however, you see how ridiculous the hysteria over the front office is and start to realize that the problem lies squarely at the feet of Jackson.

It was Jackson, after all, who came to town in early 2016 with the stated goal of fixing Cleveland’s ongoing quarterback crisis. But since his hiring, Jackson:

  • agreed with the assessment that Carson Wentz was not worth being drafted
  • thought that Robert Griffin III was worth being signed
  • didn’t believe that Deshaun Watson was worth being drafted
  • believed that DeShone Kizer was ready to start Week 1 of the season
  • thought that Kizer played “lights out” during a 31-7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals
  • took eight weeks – and three separate benchings of Kizer – to realize that having your rookie quarterback throw the ball 30-plus times a game is not a good idea
  • has posted a record of 1-23
  • has continued to talk about how no one can be expected to win with a roster as allegedly void of talent as the Browns
Cleveland Browns
(Photo by Jason Miller /Getty Images) /

Somehow, despite everything, Jackson has some people convinced that he is not to be blamed for anything, which may be the greatest trick he has pulled off with the Browns. We’ve been watching this team for 40 years now and we can’t remember a head coach ever being as Teflon-coated as Jackson.

But after the events of this week, it is clear that the time has come for the Haslams to take action.

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The first step is to sit Jackson down and make it clear that the leaks to his friends in the media stop immediately. If Jackson is working he needs to spend less time on Operation Cover Your Behind and more time on fixing what ails the offense.

That ties into the second step: Jackson is done as offensive coordinator immediately. Assistant coach Al Saunders, who has experience as an offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Ravens, St. Louis Rams and Washington Redskins, can take over for the rest of the season.

There is simply no reason to keep Jackson in the role of offensive coordinator when you look at the offensive numbers from the season’s first eight games:

  • Thirty-first in the league in points at 14.9 per game.
  • Twenty-sixth in the league in yards at 301.2 per game.
  • Thirty-second in third-down conversion at 29 percent.
  • Fourth highest in penalties with 63.
  • Thirty-second in turnover margin at minus-12.
  • Thirty-second in quarterback rating at 56.1

The wacky formations, the odd play calling, the indecisiveness over the quarterback position, the strange decision making during games could all be excused a bit if the offense looked like it had a plan or was making some progress, but that has not been the case so far.

Finally, while Jackson can have a part to play when it comes to drafting a quarterback next spring, it needs to be a very minor one based off everything we’ve seen so far from his tenure in Cleveland.

And if Jackson doesn’t want to go along? Well, if there is one thing that Haslam knows it is how to fire a coach. Haslam should be thinking long and hard about doing that anyway given everything that has gone on since hiring Jackson.

Next: Browns: 3 main takeaways from trade deadline

Because if this week proved one thing above everything else it is that the time has come for the Browns to silence the “quarterback whisperer.”