BEREA, OHIO— Before the beginning of the 2015 regular season in Cleveland, a source indicated that the Browns’ Training Camp practices were some of the softest they had seen.
This season, that won't be the case, at least according to Hue Jackson.
Jackson has put together the schedule for Cleveland’s 2016 Training Camp and is already being questioned.
The team's sports science staff feels that it appears too tough.
“We had a very candid conversation where they said, ‘Hue, you might want to double check your padded days schedule,’” Jackson said. “I told them, ‘No, I know how to take care of a football team.’”
The way in which to take care of a football team, according to the coach, is to simply allow them to play football.
Full-padded, full-tackle, full-effort football.
“We’re only going to build our football team through playing football and good football teams play football, real football,” Jackson said. “They lineup and they go after each other and they come out and they do it again the next day.”
Jackson wouldn’t divulge much about the camp he’s preparing, other than to say the Browns will have "quite a few" padded practices.
He also said that the Browns will have a siren at practice, which will blare when it's time to take things to the next level.
“We’re going to put the ball down and it’s kind of everything goes,” Jackson said.
While Jackson is trying to instill a toughness in his team through hard-hitting practices in Training Camp, he also feels that he has to know when too much is too much.
That’s part of the responsibility associated with being a head coach.
“We got to be smart,” Jackson said. “We’re not trying to get any guys injured. We’re not trying to do that, but I don’t know any other way to get better at playing football other than playing football the way you truly play football.”
As the Browns will get better when they "truly" play football, Jackson will also, finally, have a chance to "truly" evaluate his players.
Jackson said on Tuesday that this is the happiest he’s ever been with a group he’s coached, but that means little until the pads are on.
“There’s a lot of guys that look good in shorts,” Jackson said. “The real guys are going to start to separate themselves when we come back here for Training Camp because that’s when football really starts to be played, when you put these pads on and start going after each other.”
Jackson likes the idea of a difficult Training Camp and, quite frankly, doesn’t care if the players aren't in favor.
“It’s what I demand,” Jackson said. “It’s just what we do.”
That said, he doesn’t anticipate that his team will give him a hard time for putting them through a difficult camp.
It’s part of the reason he’s enjoyed coaching the Browns so much.
“I think I’ve broached that with our players,” Jackson said. “I think they understand it and I think they’re accepting of it because, again, at the same time, they understand it’s what it’s going to take to get us to where we need to be.”
The Browns have adopted an analytically-driven approach to football this season, with the addition of Paul DePodesta, Sashi Brown and Andrew Berry, amongst others, to the front office. Jackson has been in favor of the new direction of the Browns and has publicly lauded the team for its efforts.
Now, however, he seems to be heading in a slightly different direction.
Jackson may be generally in favor of the analytical approach, but he's not going to trust the numbers when it comes to the way in which to handle Training Camp.
“I’m sure they’ll give me all the statistical data that you can to forewarn me,” Jackson said, “but I’m going to trust my instincts on that one and see if we can get our team to be the best that they can be.”
For all of your Browns news and updates from Berea, follow Hayden Grove on Twitter: @H_Grove