Fired Browns coach disputes owner’s claim of ‘discord’
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
Friday, November 2
CLEVELAND (AP) — Hue Jackson didn’t lose his nerve.
Fired this week by the Browns after winning just three of 40 games in two plus-seasons, Jackson on Friday disputed owner Jimmy Haslam’s assertion there was “internal discord” on the coaching staff that made his dismissal — along with offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s — necessary.
Days after being let go, Jackson appeared on ESPN to defend his record, describe regrets and essentially audition for another job.
On Monday, Haslam, who has fired four coaches in six years, intimated that in-fighting between Jackson and Haley were at the root of his decision to make a change halfway through the season.
Jackson disagreed with his former boss and said he wanted to “set the record straight.”
“I don’t really think it was truly just about internal discord,” said Jackson, who went 1-15, 0-15 and 2-5-1 with Cleveland. “I think that’s a strong word. I think you have disagreements with coaches — with Todd, with (defensive coordinator) Gregg Williams, with Amos Jones, who is also the special teams coordinator. I don’t think that’s internal discord. I think when you look at it, the organization made a decision to go in a different direction.”
Jackson knows he didn’t win nearly enough, and he has some misgiving about the way he handled things. Following a recent loss to Tampa Bay, a frustrated Jackson said he intended to “dive in” and help Haley. Jackson said he was only trying to help, but the comments widened a rift with Haley and sent a shockwave through the team’s front office.
Jackson feels that ultimately the decision to let him go was to protect rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield, who may finally end the franchise’s search for a long-term QB.
“I think when you really stop to look at it, it’s truly really about Baker Mayfield,” Jackson said. “I think they want to do everything they can to put him in a situation. You got the first pick of the draft, who I think is going to be a franchise quarterback who is going to be a sensational player, and he’s not playing as well. So again, here is a perfect storm to move forward and move on. And I have to respect the decision that they made.”
Jackson said he was the one who hired Haley, who spent the previous six seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Jackson didn’t want to relinquish play-calling duties — he was also Cleveland’s offensive coordinator in his first two seasons — but he felt it would be better if he got help.
Jackson now admits he should have never “given away the offense.”
“I knew that Todd Haley was a proven offensive play-caller, veteran play-caller in our division. Why would you not?” Jackson said of Haley’s hiring. “I mean, let’s be honest, I knew I was on the clock. You can’t be 1-15, 0-16 and think, you know you can go through the season and not win football games. I wanted to surround myself with guys that have done it, and done it at a high level, and Todd Haley was definitely one of those guys.”
Jackson said he felt it was important to go public with his feelings just days after being fired.
“I want people to understand — I’m human just like anybody else,” he said. “At the end of the day, I didn’t do enough. We didn’t do enough to get the job done in Cleveland. So what am I supposed to do? I’m not going to go crawl into a hole and say pull the covers.”
Jackson knows his 11-44-1 record as a head coach doesn’t make him attractive to lead a team.
“I hope the next opportunity for me is to go back and be a coordinator first and foremost,” he said. “Go back and put my name back to where it should be, among some of the best play callers in this league. And then to move forward from there.
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Column: Brady already was the GOAT before beating Rodgers
By ROB MAADDI
AP Pro Football Writer
Monday, November 5
Tom Brady didn’t have to beat Aaron Rodgers in only their second head-to-head matchup to prove he’s the best quarterback of all time.
The GOAT did it, anyway.
Brady threw for 294 yards and one touchdown to lead the New England Patriots to a 31-17 victory over Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night.
Rodgers had 259 yards passing and two TDs.
It wasn’t a vintage performance for either quarterback. Brady tossed six straight incomplete passes at one point, and he couldn’t get the Patriots in the end zone on four tries from the 1 with the score tied in the third quarter. Still, he posted a passer rating of 99.0 on a night when he didn’t have star tight end Rob Gronkowski and leading rusher Sony Michel.
The game was billed as the most talented QB vs. the most accomplished QB. Some considered that statement a slight against Brady. It’s not. Rodgers is immensely gifted with a strong, accurate arm and scrambling ability. He makes plays with his legs that Brady can’t. He makes throws few players ever could make, whether he’s on the run like the 24-yard pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling on a third-and-1 late in the third quarter, or if he’s flat-footed, falling down, throwing across his body or heaving desperation passes into the end zone.
Brady has a different style. He’s a drop-back passer with underrated pocket mobility and perfect mechanics, and he simply outsmarts everyone else on the field. He fooled a pair of defenders with his eyes by looking as if he was throwing a screen pass and instead fired deep for a 55-yard TD pass to Josh Gordon to seal the win.
But John Elway and Steve Young also belong in the “most talented” conversation, so it’s not even a slam dunk that title belongs to Rodgers. Michael Vick wasn’t nearly as well-rounded, but he could throw a 70-yard touchdown pass with a simple flick of his left wrist or he could sprint 70 yards for a score at any point in a game. He has a case for the “most talented” debate if it’s based purely on physical skills. It won’t be long before Patrick Mahomes has to be considered, too.
However, the “greatest of all time” argument ended when Brady rallied the Patriots from a 28-3 third-quarter deficit against the Falcons to win his fifth Super Bowl title on Feb. 5, 2017.
“He’s got five championships,” Rodgers said earlier in the week when asked the GOAT question. “I think that ends most discussions.”
Rodgers is one of the best to play the game and he may be the “most talented,” but he doesn’t belong in the “greatest of all time” conversation. It’s Brady. Then Joe Montana. Peyton Manning deserves a mention. So does Drew Brees.
Brady has eight Super Bowl appearances. He won his third regular-season MVP award last year at age 40 and he has four Super Bowl MVP awards in his trophy case. He’s still at the top of his game at 41, seven years older than Rodgers.
Over 19 seasons, Brady has set numerous records and he notched another milestone against the Packers when he surpassed Manning for the most combination passing, rushing and receiving yards in the regular-season and playoffs.
So while the Sunday Night Football crew enjoyed hyping the matchup and even got Michael Jordan involved by having the six-time NBA champion record a promo saying “the best way to settle this debate is to play it out head to head,” Brady already earned the title way before helping New England (7-2) to its sixth straight win.
Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time and he’s still proving it every week.
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