Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam on Wednesday named Hue Jackson, a 29-year coaching veteran with 15 years of NFL experience, as the team’s 16th head coach.
Jackson, 50, comes to Cleveland after four seasons as an assistant coach with the Cincinnati Bengals, the final two of which as offensive coordinator of one of the league’s most productive, balanced units.
“It’s very exciting for us to name Hue Jackson as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns,” Jimmy Haslam said. “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 is set to land in Cleveland later this afternoon and will meet with reporters at 6:30 p.m. inside the media center at the team’s facility in Berea.
“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 interviewed with the Browns’ search committee Sunday after the Bengals’ AFC Wild Card loss to Pittsburgh and again Tuesday in Cincinnati. He was the seventh of seven candidates to interview for the position over a five-day stretch.
“We shared a lot of ideas between each other. We shared a vision for the organization and what we want to accomplish,” Jackson said. “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.”
Jackson’s had his hands on many aspects of the Bengals’ last four seasons, which all ended with at least 10 wins and trips to the playoffs. He started on the defensive side of the ball as a secondary/assistant special teams coach -- his first such assignment since he began his coaching career in 1987. He switched to the area where he’s coached most -- running backs -- in 2013 before taking over in 2014 for Jay Gruden, who left to become head coach of the Washington Redskins.
The Bengals went from 15th in scoring offense in 2014 to seventh this season thanks largely to the improved quarterback play of Andy Dalton, who set a career high and franchise record with a 106.3 rating, which led the AFC and was second in the NFL. After losing Dalton to injury in Week 14, Jackson guided quarterback AJ McCarron to a 2-1 record in the final three games of the season, as the Bengals clinched the AFC North title, their second of the past four seasons. The Cincinnati 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.
In Jackson’s first year as offensive coordinator for Cincinnati, the run game posted its highest yards per game average (134.1) since 2000. Dalton passed for 3,398 yards, Green totaled 1,041 receiving yards and Hill rushed for 1,124 yards as a rookie.
“Hue Jackson will be a tremendous leader for our football team,” said Sashi Brown, executive vice president of football operations. “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 will be a terrific partner in our efforts to build a winning football team.”
In his one season as head coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2011, Jackson went 8-8 and finished in a tie for first in the AFC West. The Raiders missed out on the postseason because they were on the wrong side of a tiebreaker with the Denver Broncos but notched their best record since 2002. The Raiders ranked ninth in the NFL in total offense and seventh in rushing offense despite a midseason injury to quarterback Jason Campbell.
Jackson has been an offensive coordinator at six different spots, four in the NFL -- Cincinnati (2014-15), Atlanta (2007), Washington (2003), Oakland (2010), USC (1997-2000) and Cal-Berkeley (1996). A quarterback in his playing days who served as a dual-threat option for Pacific University in 1985 and 1986, Jackson has worked mostly with quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers during his 29 years of coaching.
Jackson spent 14 years at the college level, going from a graduate assistant at Pacific all the way to offensive coordinator at USC, before receiving his first shot at the NFL. Jackson survived a coaching change between 2001 and 2002, working under Marty Schottenheimer for the first season and Steve Spurrier for the second. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati’s longtime head coach, was the defensive coordinator on the 2002 squad. Lewis left to become Cincinnati’s head coach in 2003, the same year Jackson was promoted to offensive coordinator.
Lewis first hired Jackson in 2004 following Spurrier’s resignation to coach wide receivers, a spot he occupied through the 2006 season. Before joining the Raiders in 2010, Jackson spent two seasons (2008-09) as quarterbacks coach for Baltimore, helping the Ravens advance to the playoffs both years. He was vital in the development of Joe Flacco, who was named NFL Rookie of the Year in 2008 and became the first rookie quarterback to win two playoff games.
“I’m a very enthusiastic person. I exert a lot of energy in coaching,” Jackson said. “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. 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.”
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
College: University of Pacific
NFL experience: 15 years
2016-present: Cleveland Browns (head coach)
2014-2015: Cincinnati Bengals (offensive coordinator)
2013: Cincinnati Bengals (running backs coach)
2012: Cincinnati Bengals (secondary/assistant special teams coach)
2011: Oakland Raiders (head coach)
2010: Oakland Raiders (offensive coordinator)
2008-09: Baltimore Ravens (quarterbacks coach)
2007: Atlanta Falcons (offensive coordinator)
2004-06: Cincinnati Bengals (wide receivers coach)
2003: Washington Redskins (offensive coordinator)
2001-02: Washington Redskins (running backs coach)
1997-2000: University of Southern California (offensive coordinator)
1996: University of California-Berkeley (offensive coordinator)
1995: Arizona State (quarterbacks coach)
1992-94: Arizona State (running backs coach)
1990-91: Cal-State Fullerton (running backs/special teams coach)
1989: University of Pacific (running backs/special teams coach)
1988: University of Pacific (wide receivers/special teams coach)
1987: University of Pacific (graduate assistant)