Browns’ Jackson: ‘There’s nothing to’ rumored rift with OC Todd Haley
Hue Jackson knew what was coming even if he tried his best to feign disbelief.
No sooner had Todd Haley’s name left a reporter’s lips than Jackson, the Cleveland Browns head coach, groaned in response.
“Oh, my gosh, you guys had to ask that question,” Jackson said at the outset of a conference call with Pittsburgh reporters.
Jackson spent two days addressing his criticism of the Browns’ offense, which is directed by Haley the former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator. And Jackson knew he wouldn’t get away without having the controversy mentioned Wednesday given Haley’s ties to the Steelers and the rematch between the two teams Sunday at Heinz Field.
“There’s nothing to it,” Jackson said. “Todd is doing a good job, he’s working hard, doing everything he can to get the offense to continue to move forward, and that’s it.”
In his first year with the Browns, Haley is coordinating an offense that is in the bottom half of the NFL in points and yards. The Browns have scored four touchdowns in their past three games, and they have scored six points total in the first quarter through seven weeks.
After a 26-23 overtime loss to Tampa Bay, Jackson said he would jump “head-first, all hands, feet and everything” into helping the offense improve. It was interpreted as a shot at Haley by Jackson, who doubled as the Browns’ offensive coordinator the previous two seasons.
Jackson was asked whether he and Haley have a good working relationship.
“Yeah, we do,” he said. “This is about performance. He has a strong personality. Gregg (Williams) has a strong personality. Amos (Jones) has one, and so do I. I have a makeup of guys that are just that way and I feel comfortable with them.”
The Browns hired Haley shortly after his contract wasn’t renewed by the Steelers following six seasons coordinating the offense.
“Obviously, he did a great job there. He did a great job everywhere he has been,” Jackson said. “I figured if we were going to bring a guy in to be a coordinator, we were going to bring in a guy who had skins on the wall that way that could produce a top-notch offensive football team.”
And Jackson left no doubt about who will be calling the plays Sunday against the Steelers.
“Todd always has been calling the plays,” he said. “I never, ever said that I was calling the plays or I wanted to call the plays. Everyone wrote it the way they wanted to, but that was never said.”