A new-look Browns offense full of new faces is set to debut
Cleveland’s revamped unit starring new quarterback Tyrod Taylor, wide receiver Jarvis Landry and offensive coordinator Todd Haley will come together for the first time publicly next Tuesday when the team opens organized team activities.
Following the franchise’s first winless season, head coach Hue Jackson tabbed Haley to lead an offense that's struggled to produce points and victories over the past two years. But coupled with an influx of offensive talent — one that includes Taylor, the former Bills starting signal caller, Landry, a three-time Pro Bowler, and former 49ers back Carlos Hyde — the hope is those shortcomings are in the past.
“I’ve given Todd total autonomy with our offensive football team,” Jackson, who previously called the team's plays, said at rookie minicamp earlier this month.
“He has been very respectful. Anything that I wanted to see or do, he’s always asking and we’re always communicating that way. You have to do it that way. He can’t go call my offense as more as I couldn’t call his offense. There is a respect level there as I said a long time ago when I hired him. He's one of the best in the business. That's why he is here.”
Haley, who spent the past six seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, joined Jackson’s staff in February. He inherits a group that returns a formidable offensive line (minus future Hall-of-Fame left tackle Joe Thomas, who retired in March), do-everything running back Duke Johnson (who led the team in all-purpose yards a year ago) and wide receiver Josh Gordon, who returned from a three-year suspension late last season. Haley is also tasked with helping mold a rookie class that includes franchise quarterback of the future Baker Mayfield, offensive lineman Austin Corbett, running back Nick Chubb and wide receivers Antonio Callaway and Damion Ratley.
At least on paper, there’s reason to be optimistic about what Haley and Co. might accomplish in 2018. In Pittsburgh, Haley’s offenses were some of the NFL's best thanks in part to the trio of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. For example, the Steelers were third in yards per game and eight in points per game last season.
It’s why Jackson felt comfortable handing over the offensive keys to Haley. Regarded by his peers as one of the league’s best offensive minds, Cleveland's head coach said he felt it was in the best interest of the team to take on a different role.
“At some point in time, you have to keep transitioning. To me more so than that, I would do anything in my power to help this organization win,” Jackson said.
“When I sat down and thought about it, I go, ‘What's going to put the Cleveland Browns in the best position to win games and be successful?’ Maybe it's Hue Jackson being involved in everybody’s meetings coaching everybody. That's the decision I made."
When the Browns’ coaches, veterans and rookies gather together next week, there will be a new playbook to master and new verbiage to learn. Jackson, like everyone else, is excited what Haley and the offensive can do.
"I wasn’t going to (give up play-calling) as I said to you a long time ago unless I had a guy who I truly believed in who could do it, and that could do it like I did and do it better," Jackson said. "That's why Todd is here.”