BEREA—Who is Hue Jackson?
No, it’s not the guy who played Wolverine in the X-Men series of movies--that was Hugh Jackman.
But Hue Jackson, the football coach.
Jackson was officially named the 16th full-time head coach in Browns history on Wednesday.
“It’s very exciting for us to name Hue Jackson as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns,” Jimmy Haslam said in a statement released by the team. “He embodies all the qualities that will provide strong leadership for our football team. He is highly experienced, deeply passionate about winning, and relentless in trying to find ways to put his players in the best position to succeed.
"He possesses that unique ability to reach the entire locker room in a way that demands accountability while getting the buy-in and team-first mentality that leads to positive results. I think our players will love playing for him. Dee and I warmly welcome Hue and his family to Cleveland.”
Jackson, 50, has head coaching experience in the NFL as he was coach of the Raiders in 2011 when they went 8-8, but was fired after one season. Jackson joined the Bengals after he left the Raiders and became the offensive coordinator for Cincinnati in 2014.
The Bengals went from 15th in scoring offense in 2014 to seventh in 2015 under Jackson and is credited for the improved play of quarterback Andy Dalton, who set a career high and franchise record with a 106.3 rating.
The Bengals running game produced two 700-yard rushers in Jeremy Hill (794) and Giovani Bernard (730) for the first time since 1988. Tight end Tyler Eifert experienced a breakout season after hauling in 13 touchdown receptions, the most by a Bengals tight end in franchise history and the most by a Cincinnati player since 2001. Wide receiver A.J. Green added 10 receiving touchdowns on 86 receptions for 1,297 yards. Eifert, Green and offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth were selected to the Pro Bowl.
The Browns are hoping to help themselves while hurting their AFC North rival in the process.
“What a tremendous honor and privilege to be the head coach of the Cleveland Browns and a part of the Dawg Pound,” Jackson said. “I’m so looking forward to it and have so many people to thank. Obviously Jimmy and Dee Haslam for this opportunity, going through the process of meeting Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta. What an exciting time to have an opportunity to work with people like that.”
Jackson said he felt comfortable with the Browns organization, as some felt the hiring of Sashi Brown as executive vice president of football operations to oversee the 53-man roster and the personnel side might clash with Jackson or other possible candidates.
“We shared a lot of ideas between each other," Jackson said. "We shared a vision for the organization and what we want to accomplish. At the end of the day, we have some very real goals we want to attain and we understand it’s going to take a lot of hard work to do that.”
Brown feels Jackson is the right man for the job.
“Hue Jackson will be a tremendous leader for our football team,” Brown said. “He has vast knowledge and expertise, invaluable head coaching experience, and his players have thrived under his tutelage. His track record of relating to players as people off the field while also getting the most out of them on the field will help us establish a culture of accountability and the expectation of winning.
"Hue understands and embraces the collaborative work that needs to be done to positively impact our results on the field," he said. "He will be a terrific partner in our efforts to build a winning football team.”
There were multiple reports that Jackson met with the 49ers for five hours on Sunday morning and they were very interested in hiring him. Jackson was reportedly also scheduled to interview for the vacant New York Giants position on Thursday, but chose the Browns before interviewing with them.
Jackson played at Pacific and has been in the NFL since 2001. He coached at the college level for 14 seasons with his last season at USC.
He started his NFL coaching career as a running backs coach for the Washington Redskins, Jackson has been the offensive coordinator for four different organizations, including the Redskins, Falcons, Raiders and Bengals.
Since he was released from the Raiders after a regime change, Jackson has spent four seasons in Cincinnati, starting as a special teams assistant and secondary coach, before becoming the team's running backs coach in 2013.
Following that 2013 season, Jackson was named the Bengals offensive coordinator, a title he held in the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Jackson is excited to get going with the Browns. With five current teams without head coaches, Jackson should be able to get a jump start on hiring his staff.
“I’m a very enthusiastic person," Jacksons said. "I exert a lot of energy in coaching. I love coaching all aspects of it: offense, defense and special teams. I’ve had an opportunity to be involved in all of it. At the end of the day, we’re going to do a great job of hiring a great staff.
“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," he said. "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.”
All totaled, the Browns interviewed seven coaches for the position. Adam Gase was the first coach interviewed by the Browns and he has taken the Dolphins position. Others interviewed besides Jackson and Gase, were Cowboys secondary coach Jerome Henderson, former Bills coach Doug Marrone, Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott and Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.
The Browns are introducing Jackson as the team's head coach at 6:30 pm Wednesday.