BEREA—Jimmy Haslam admitted his first two attempts at finding the right coach failed.
However, Haslam thinks he has the right guy this time in Hue Jackson.
“Hopefully, the third time’s the charm, and I think you learn, hopefully, you learn from previous processes of what you can do better, and I think we’ll benefit this time,” Haslam said. “Let me say this, and I know there’s a feeling here, and it’s deserved, that this is not a good place to coach, and a lot of it revolves around the owners, but we were pleasantly surprised with the interest in this job, and I think the people recognize the potential that is here in Cleveland.
“Hue talks about it, and we talk about it all the time, the rabid fan-base, and like I said, we got the guy we wanted, but there were several really outstanding coaches we had the opportunity to interview, and I think it’s a credit to really, this town and the fan-base.”
Jackson said playing against the Browns twice a year and beating them soundly in 2015 didn’t give him preconceived notions that the Browns were an undesirable job.
"No, honestly I didn’t,” he said. “I didn't have any preconceived notions and my mind didn't need to be changed. This is a tremendous organization led by some great people and there's only 32 of these [jobs]. So I understood where they had been and where they're trying to go, and I like challenges. And boy, what a challenge? But boy, when you have the support that I think we have here, those challenges become reality."
Jackson knows the AFC North well, having coached in Cincinnati, as well as Baltimore and thinks that will work to his benefit.
“I’ve been in the AFC North and I know the lay of the land and I understand where we are and where we’re trying to go,” Jackson said. “Cincinnati is one of the top teams in the league and Pittsburgh is still playing and obviously, Baltimore had a down year this year and we understand where the Cleveland Browns are.”
Jackson senses a difference from his time in Cincinnati and in Baltimore in a short time.
“I’ve been in two of these organizations in the AFC North,” he said. “I've been in Cincinnati and I've been in Baltimore and I can tell you firsthand, there's nothing like the feeling of walking through these doors. Nothing. I know there is a rabid fan base that is excited. Dawg Pound let me giver you a fist pump because I'm excited and I want to jump over into that pound and when I get an opportunity when we play football the way I know we can play. There's a lot of work to do. I'm excited about what needs to be done. I've already rolled up my sleeves and I'm ready to go."
Jackson is confident he will be able to do what his predecessors couldn’t.
“It's hard for me to tell you about the other coaches, but I know what Hue Jackson can do, and I feel very comfortable and confident that I can get it turned,” he said. “I believe that, I know that and I expect to get that done.”
Despite the Browns finishing at 3-13, Jackson doesn’t look at the situation as hoping to win down the road.
“That’s not my mindset and I don’t want it to be our players’ mindset,” he said. “We want to go and we expect to win every game we play. That being said, a lot of things need to happen to have that opportunity to come forth. At the same time, we’re not going to be that football team that walks out there and we say, ‘give.’ I’m not interested in that. I didn’t come here for that. I came here to win. I came here to help our team have an opportunity to win football games.”
Jackson said that Haslam asked him during the interview process what it would take for the Browns to win.
“Do we have a chance to win?,” he said. “‘Hue, what do you think it’s going to take to give us an opportunity to win in Cleveland. To me, those questions were met with no problems. That’s why I’m sitting here today. If I didn’t think we had a chance to do something special here, I wouldn’t be here. There’s no question about that.”