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Opinion: Cleveland Browns have reason for optimism with Hue Jackson hiring

Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson answers questions from the media during a news conference at the team's headquarters on Jan. 13, in Berea, Ohio. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson answers questions from the media during a news conference at the team’s headquarters on Jan. 13, in Berea, Ohio.
Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Another year, another head coach for the Cleveland Browns. But that’s nothing new to their fans, right?

Since 2008, the lowly Browns have had an astounding five head coaches. After going 3-13 in 2015, the suits in Cleveland decided it was time, once again, to bring in a new commander in chief.

Enter 29-year coaching veteran Hue Jackson.

Upon his hiring, fans collectively posed the question: What makes Jackson different than any of the other coaches that have tried, and failed, to turn the Browns around? Well, arguably, the hottest head-coaching candidate on the market chose to go to Cleveland over vastly more desirable situations, so that’s a start.

Jackson has experienced some sort of success in nearly all of his stops in the NFL. He’s a crafty play caller, a great leader of men, and he knows how to get the very most out his players. Jackson understands both sides of the ball well and has spent the last four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, coaching up their offense and defense in separate years. He became their offensive coordinator, though, in 2014, bringing balance and consistency to the Bengals’ young offense.

The Browns hope that he’ll provide the same sort of consistency to their youthful, but talent-derived team.

Despite Cleveland’s three-win campaign in 2015, Jackson has pieces that he’ll be able to build around. Star cornerback Joe Haden and defensive tackle Danny Shelton anchor a potential top-ranked defense, while left tackle Joe Thomas and right guard Joel Bitonio should provide stability up front as the Browns find their offensive identity.

Jackson has worked his magic on numerous players throughout his coaching career, and it should be no different now that he’s in Cleveland. Just this season, he helped make afterthought tight end Tyler Eifert into a touchdown catching machine (13) who is on his way to his very first Pro Bowl. Not to mention his handling of second-year quarterback A.J. McCarron, who came in relief of injured starter Andy Dalton in Week 14 and performed admirably, and then some, in Dalton’s absence.

Make no mistake, it’s not my intention to get the hopes of Browns fans up, but there finally seems to be reason for optimism in Cleveland. Jackson was the top choice for multiple teams in search of a new head coach, and for good reason. He understands what it takes to be a winner in this league and wants to make the Browns a true contender.  

“I think what our fans will be proud of and excited about is we’re going to be a football team that’s going to play very excited football,” Jackson said via the team’s official website on Jan. 13. “We’re going to be passionate about what we do and we understand there’s a lot of work involved in order to meet our goals.”

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