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Duke Johnson comments on Hue Jackson’s future with Browns

He didn’t say a whole lot, but what Duke Johnson said, and didn’t say, may be pretty revealing.

Denver Broncos v Cleveland Browns Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images

Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson deferred to ownership when asked if Hue Jackson should be the team’s coach next season, and then again when asked if Jackson was the right coach for the team.

“It’s not my call,” Johnson said twice. “I like [Jackson], the locker room loves him, but at the end of the day it’s about wins and losses.

“If [firing Jackson is] the decision the Haslams make, then that’s their decision. We support them and this organization 100 percent.”

Here’s a clip of Johnson’s responses, courtesy of Browns beat writer Fred Greetham:

Now, there’s not a whole lot overtly there on the surface to take away from Johnson’s replies, but it’s interesting when comparing his responses regarding Jackson with those of quarterback DeShone Kizer.

“You walk into this locker room through 15 weeks of losing and you still see the same energy that is up and at ‘em,” Kizer said when asked about the team’s collective support for Jackson. “We are practicing hard, and we are completely committed to everything he has so we can do whatever we can to win for him.”

It’s worth noting that Kizer will probably be replaced next season as the Browns have two likely Top 5 draft picks, and plenty of cash to spend on the quarterback position in free agency. That’s true, unless Jackson somehow convinces new general manager John Dorsey that Kizer can become his quarterback. That probably explains Kizer’s apparent unbridled support for Jackson, so what do Johnson’s responses mean?

Johnson will be entering the final year of his contract in 2018, so he’s not likely one who will attempt to muddy the waters in either his relationship with management or with Jackson, assuming the coach sticks around. But he didn’t give the ringing endorsement Kizer did, and seemed to be almost open to the idea of the team finding a new coach.

The shifty running back told Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer that he wants to remain with the Browns for his entire career. If Jackson does remain the coach, and presuming the team’s current losing trend continues in 2018, it’s hard to see him honoring that sentiment when given the freedom to find a new team.

But that’s another year-plus away, and it appears Jimmy Haslam is currently content with Jackson as his coach heading into the 2018 season. Jackson is his guy, the same coach who will presumably finish the first two seasons of his Browns coaching career with a 1-31 record.