Hue Jackson was fired eight games into the 2018 season and you could make a convincing case that he deserved to be dismissed well before then. When things reached their logical and inglorious conclusion for Jackson he wasted little time blaming others for his failings.
As you might imagine, this didn’t sit well with a lot of people, including Jackson’s former players.
“Well, obviously we weren’t happy with what Hue said about us after he left. It is what it is,” tight end David Njoku told The Rich Eisen Show recently. “Baker [Mayfield] didn’t appreciate it. We came together after Hue left and took it upon ourselves to work extra hard to finish the year strong. … Baker has a voice, as we all do, and he didn’t appreciate what happened. It’s not like we’re robots. We felt, in a way, disrespected. It is what it is.”
Njoku referenced Mayfield, the 2018 rookie quarterback who called Jackson “fake” after the Browns beat the Bengals — Jackson had been hired as an assistant in Cincinnati after he was fired in Cleveland. And while things were awkward during the game — see Damarious Randall — it got exponentially more so afterwards:
“Left Cleveland, goes down to Cincinnati,” Mayfield said after the game, explaining his actions. “I dunno. That’s someone who was in our locker room asking us to play for him and then goes to a different team that we play twice a year. Everyone can have their spin on it, but that’s how I feel.”
Jackson finished out the year in Cincy and when Marvin Lewis stepped down in January he thought Jackson would be a suitable successor.
“I think he’s more than qualified,” Lewis said at the time. “I think he’s been in a couple of difficult situations, and that’s tough, and it hasn’t broke his way. But I think he’s an excellent football coach, he’s a great motivator. He’s detailed. So I think he deserves an opportunity. If not here, somewhere else.”
Here’s the thing: Before Jackson took the Browns job before the 2016 season, he was widely regarded as an innovative offensive mind who worked well with young quarterbacks. He was the Raiders offensive coordinator in 2010 and went 8-8 as the Raiders’ coach in 2011. From 2014-2015, he was on Lewis’ staff as offensive coordinator, and those teams finished 10-5-1 and 12-4. But it all went sideways when he took the Browns job. One win in ’16, no wins in ’17, and a 2-5-1 record got him fired in ’18.
There’s also this:
Worth noting: The Bengals lost seven of their final eight games last season.