BEREA, OH— As is to be expected when an individual obtains one of the 32 NFL head coaching positions available on earth, Hue Jackson’s phone was blowing up after he was hired by the Cleveland Browns.
“I'm being very honest, I have 142 text messages on my phone,” Jackson said. “I never knew my phone could go that long.”
Also to be expected after such news is that the majority of those 142 messages would be draped with congratulatory prose.
Jackson, however, indicated otherwise.
“Most of them are coaches,” Jackson said. “They're saying, ‘Hue, will you help me get to the Cleveland Browns and have an opportunity to sit in front of Jimmy and the rest of your staff and have a chance to come here and help you win?’”
Jackson isn’t shy about it— he expects coaches to want to join him.
“I’m going to attract some good coaches and some great coaches,” Jackson said. “‘But, to me, we’ve got to find the right fit for us.”
The incessant text messages featuring coaches clamoring for a job in Cleveland weren’t the only endorsements of Jackson on Wednesday.
In fact, they were just the tip of the praise-filled iceberg.
From the moment he was hired, his former players and fellow coaches took to Twitter, television and even radio to laud the man just hired as the next head coach of the Browns.
“I've known Hue since I was a sophomore in high school when he was trying to get me to go to USC. It worked,” Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer said. “He's an awesome choice for the Browns. They're not only getting an amazing football mind but a tremendous person and I'm thrilled for him.”
Palmer’s former teammate in Cincinnati— Chad Johnson— was even more effusive in his praise of Jackson.
“You get more than just a coach. Hue Jackson is a gem,” Johnson said. “With Hue coming on board, being able to get the maximum amount of potential out of each player is what I know is going to happen because he was able to do it with me. I am sure he will be able to do it with (the Browns.)”
Even Bengals head coach and, suddenly, Jackson’s rival, Marvin Lewis, is excited for his former offensive coordinator.
“He is an outstanding coach and a better friend,” Lewis said. “I wish him the very best 14 times each season.”
So, why is it that Jackson is so universally supported by those that surround him?
Why did so many flock to their various platforms to proclaim the greatness of Jackson?
“Because I think players know that I’m honest and I’m fair and I’m tough. My job is to push people, to get them where they need to be,” Jackson said, when asked the aforementioned questions. “Sometimes the arrow does go down on some players and then when they do, you’ve got to get them back and focused the best they can and try to create environments for your players to be all they can be.
“That’s what I think I’m good at and I think the players that I’ve been around, the coaches I’ve been around, they know that because I try to create their environment so people can have success.”
Whether it’s a fact that has been as publicized as his recent praise or somewhat downplayed, Jackson’s aforementioned approach has been successful— both with teams and individuals— throughout his NFL cocahing career.
As the wide receivers coach in Cincinnati, he coached a pair of pass catchers— Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh— that averaged over 170 catches, 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns over three seasons.
He developed Ravens quarterback, Joe Flacco, into the 2008 Rookie of the Year, spending two seasons as the quarterbacks coach in Baltimore.
Before being chucked as part of an organizational upheaval in Oakland, he helped the Raiders to become the ninth-best offensive team in the league and led them to an 8-8 record in 2011— his lone season as an NFL head coach.
Most recently, Jackson helped the Bengals to a playoff berth in each of his two seasons as the team’s offensive coordinator, while subsequently pushing quarterback Andy Dalton to his two best NFL seasons.
For those reasons, along with the praise of his peers, Jackson brims with confidence, even he heads towards a daunting task: turning around the Cleveland Browns.
“I know what Hue Jackson can do, and I feel very comfortable and confident that I can get it turned,” Jackson said. “I believe that, I know that and I expect to get that done.”
For all of your Browns news and updates from Berea, follow Hayden Grove on Twitter: @H_Grove.