The Hue Jackson Era has officially begun in Cleveland.
Following his introductory press conference Wednesday evening, Jackson acquainted himself with the local media today and detailed his future with the Cleveland Browns.
Jackson spoke today with Kevin Kiley and Ken Carman of 92.3 The Fan and Tony Rizzo and Jerod Cherry of ESPN Cleveland. The new Browns' head coach echoed many of his thoughts from Wednesday evening's presser, but Jackson had several interesting snippets.
Here are some important sentiments Jackson expressed today:
Selling the Cleveland Browns
Following the firing of Mike Pettine, many said the Browns would have a difficult time finding a reputable head coach. After all, owner Jimmy Haslam has shown impatience.
So what convinced Jackson to join the Browns?
"Jimmy and Dee Haslam. The time spent with them, talking about the vision for the organization, what they wanted to accomplish, and how we're going to set out to do that really fit for me. Then the time spent with Sashi [Brown] and Paul [DePodesta], talking about how we're going to put this thing together to give ourselves the best opportunity to have players on our roster that's going to give us a chance to win the division first. We all understand, we have to win in this division first before we can ever do anything outside of it. To me, the vision is what sold me to come to the Cleveland Browns ... And understanding that it takes a process. It doesn't happen overnight. It takes some growing pains and you have to go through it in order to come out of the other side and be alright."
Learning from the Past
Like most new hires, Jackson does come with some baggage. The former Bengals offensive coordinator served as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders before receiving the axe from ownership.
Few blamed the Raiders' woes on Jackson, who guided the team to an 8-8 record in his lone year with the club. But still, many wondered why Jackson received a pink slip from his boss.
Jackson blamed his early departure on the lack of a support system. Jackson called the late Raiders owner Al Davis a "tremendous person," but faulted him for holding too tight a control over his team.
Jackson praised Amy Trask, his top ally with the Raiders, but said he and Trask were forced to "do the jobs of nine or 10 different people." Jackson said he learned:
"If you don't have the right support system in place, and if everybody's not committed to winning and creating the right culture and the right environment that it takes to win in the NFL, eventually it will crumble ... The head coach can't do it by himself. You have to trust and have a supporting cast to make sure all the things of the day-to-day operations get handled."
One of the favorite words of many NFL coaches is the word "accountability." Jackson used the word a lot in his interviews today, too.
Jackson rightly believes the organization must move as one. Alignment begins at the top, beginning with Jimmy Haslam. Asked if Jackson will be able to hold those above him accountable, Jackson confidently said:
"I don't think Jimmy is the type of personality that if there's something I don't think is going correctly, I can't talk to him about it. Most of what you're talking about is communication, being able to bounce things off each other and have those tough conversations when you need to have one. And I've never run from a confrontation, that's for sure."
That's a bold statement. Hopefully Jackson can avoid any undue conflict.
Speaking of conflict, some of the players on the roster have caused quite a fracas. Jackson wants players who want to play and have a "burning desire and that football is important to him. Football has to be one of the top priorities in his life, because at the end of the day, that's the only way you play great as a team."
Jackson seems unwilling to tolerate players with character issues, likely spelling the end of the road for Johnny Manziel, Justin Gilbert, and perhaps Josh Gordon:
"We'll be able to look into a player's past and see exactly he's done. Like I said before, what you see is what you get. What's in there is the same thing you're going to get as you move forward. People don't change too much that way ... You can help some of that by creating a good environment for people to grow and get better, and that's one of my jobs. But at the same time, we're looking for guys who have great character, because in order to be a Cleveland Brown team member, it's going to definitely be one of our prerequisites."
In other words, the Browns likely won't draft players with flawed character traits.
Jackson even went as far to call players "babied":
"They get babied way too much. And that's now what this is about. We're paying these guys a ton of money to do a job, just as they're paying me. You have to come in and compete everyday to do what you do. My job is to make sure I'm honest and fair with them."
As Chris wrote yesterday, Jackson buys into the analytical angle. Jackson added two quotes to further cement his dedication to analytics:
"I saw different ways of making sure things don't fall through the cracks through analytics. There's some things -- when I've been in other organizations -- that might have fell through because we did not have that information readily available to us. Being involved in analytics myself, which I've embraced, from a football standpoint, learning different ways it can help you from a roster standpoint. There's so many different avenues you can take this in, that I think will give us some cutting edge information that will help us as we move forward."
"Right now, our wedding ring looks good. We look at each other and there is an intense passion in all of our eyes because we want this to work to the fullest. I have so much respect for Sashi and Paul. They're great at what they do, they're experts in their field ... You find players who grind. You find players who are gritty. Winning is one of the most important traits you have to have. This is about mindset."
Changes at Quarterback, Running Back, and Wide Receiver
As an offensive-minded coach, Jackson will bring a new offensive perspective to the Browns.
This starts with a renewed appreciation for the wide receiver position. Unlike former general manager Ray Farmer, Jackson highly values a big receiver and a dependable running back:
"You gotta have a dominant, vertical threat in the National Football League to have a good team. You ask about the type of running back, I'm talking about the type of running back who can be the bellcow. The guy who can play and can make plays, play in and play out, who's very dominant and a very physical, aggressive runner. I'm looking forward to it because I think we have a couple of guys here who have a chance."
Finally, a coach who gets it.
Also known as somewhat of a quarterback guru, Jackson mentored Joe Flacco in Baltimore and Andy Dalton in Cincinnati. Jackson is looking for a quarterback similar to these two.
Jackson wants a signalcaller who will serve as the team's key leader, both on and off the field. In other words, Manziel is gone.
Jackson briefly said he's willing to draft a quarterback at #2, but only if the player is "good enough." Jared Goff and Paxton Lynch are still very much in the equation for the Browns.
Beyond drafting a quarterback, Jackson said development is critical:
"It's a process you take a quarterback through and it's based on your team. Joe came into the league and he was with a really good defensive football team. Obviously everyone says a good running game is a young quarterback's best friend, and that's so true. The pressure of playing the game, as you men know, of 65-70 plays having to be right every time when you're young, you're not ready for that. And that's just the truth. It's up to the coach to create an environment for that young man to where maybe 50-55 plays of the game, he can get it done."
A New Approach
Unlike previous regimes, Jackson has clearly stated his lofty goals.
Jackson wants a Super Bowl, and seems bound and determined to make his dream a reality.
But first, as Jackson said, the Browns first have to re-establish prior rivalries in the AFC North. To do so, the Browns must "walk tall and carry a big stick," encouraging words for fans.
Speaking of fans, Jackson said his message to Cleveland Browns fans is this:
"Let's get ready to go. At the end of the day, this is an extremely good job, in my opinion, led by some great people. I know everybody's concerned about what the future looks like, but to me, the future is now. We're going to create an environment for our team where they're the best they can be. I don't know how fast that's going to happen. I know everyone likes to put a timetable to it, and I never want to sell anyone a dream of false reality. But at the same time, we're going to work hard everyday, everyday, brick-by-brick, piece-by-piece, to get this thing where we need to get it to."
That's certainly what Browns fans needed to hear out of the new head coach. Now begins the tough part -- putting words into actions.