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Browns fire Sashi Brown, Hue Jackson to remain head coach for 2018

More change is afoot

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
“See ya, Sash!”
Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns made a big move on Thursday, firing Sashi Brown, the team’s executive vice president of football operations. Owner Jimmy Haslam announced the move Thursday morning, and also stated that head coach Hue Jackson would remain in his role into the 2018 season.

Statement by Owner Jimmy Haslam

Haslam acknowledged the importance of the 2018 draft and offseason, and stated he thinks a change was necessary to “maximize our opportunity for success.”

Early Candidates to Interview

NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport tweeted the Browns hired a search firm a month ago to begin vetting former Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey for the job. A team cannot interview and hire another team’s personnel people until after their season is complete. However, Dorsey does not work for a team at the moment, so he can interview and join any team looking to make such a hire. There is no word yet on any other potential candidates.

Does Everyone Else Stay?

We already know that Hue Jackson will be back in 2018, and that likely means most or all of his staff will be too.

According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer, “Everyone is remaining in place for the time being, including Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta.” Cabot also says that “Brown was not on speaking terms with Jackson over the past month or so.”

Does it Make Sense?

Going 1-27 over a two-season span, including this year, is never good for anyone’s resume. As the losses started piling up this season, the divide between Hue Jackson and Sashi Brown seemed to grow.

When Brown was appointed the executive VP of football operations in 2016, he was viewed as a person who was great at ushering unity among a group. Jackson was a big hire for them, considering the front office was pushing a unique analytics-heavy approach. This season, though, the first real big sign that owner Jimmy Haslam started to favor Jackson was when he gave the “OK” for the team to acquired QB A.J. McCarron at the trade deadline. The front office reportedly botched or sabotaged the deal, creating somewhat of a public relations disaster. There was also this shot caught by CBS before the Browns played the Bengals two weeks ago, which might as well have spelled DOOM for Brown’s future:

But it’s tough to hate on some of the moves that Brown had directed over the past year. He set the Browns up with three first-round picks in 2017, and the team will have two high first- and two high second-round picks in 2018 (and a third second-round pick). The cap space is still plentiful, all while players like Kevin Zeitler was signed this offseason and several other key players extended (Joel Bitonio, Christian Kirksey, and Jamie Collins).

Meanwhile, Jackson’s biggest gripe is that he hasn’t had a quarterback to work with. It’s true that Brown had provided him with nothing in that regard, but Jackson was supposed to be this quarterback whisperer. He is supposed to help make a shitty situation a manageable one. He hasn’t, and his in-game management skills and strategy have been very questionable. The good thing is that despite all the losing, he has kept the young locker room from going into a state of chaos.

The gripe I have is that I always viewed this as a three-year plan. We already made it this far, so why not go a third year to see if that is the turning point of all this re-building, especially since we expect a quarterback to be signed/drafted?

Will Cleveland be a disaster without Brown? No — and if they are able to make a credible hire, there shouldn’t be a big dropoff, simply because of the number of assets they’ll have to work with and you can’t get much worst than 1-27. But he definitely is a bit of an unfair scapegoat in my opinion when you compare the job he’s tried to do vs. the job that Jackson has done.

Plenty more to come on this developing story.