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National reporters like Browns' direction after hiring of Hue Jackson

MOBILE, Alabama -- As NFL Network's Albert Breer listed the reasons why he liked the Browns' hire of Hue Jackson, he essentially checked off the credentials Owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam laid out at the beginning of the process.

"Having covered him and having covered the players that played for him, he's a heck of a leader," Breer said at last week's Senior Bowl. "He's going to command respect. He's got a real presence about him.

"Beyond what we've seen the last couple of years with that great offense, with the development of Tyler Eifert and A.J. Green and Andy Dalton and all those guys, you also have a guy that can be battleship commander. I think he checks off a lot of the boxes."

That sort of reaction was common in the wake of Jackson's hiring as Cleveland's head coach, but the optimism didn't stop with him.

In the days and weeks since he took the job, Jackson has assembled a coaching staff heavy on experience and a track record of winning football. He also had a hand in the hiring of Vice President of Player Personnel Andrew Berry, one of the final pieces in the reorganized football operations department within the franchise.

Breer was most encouraged by the hiring of defensive coordinator Ray Horton.

"Because he's going to be the playcaller, the staff hires on the defensive side of the ball are really, really important," Breer said. "I think it was important for them to get someone who has experience as defensive coordinator because you're going to be delegating a lot of responsibility to that guy if you are going to take on play-calling yourself. Not only has that guy been defensive coordinator in three different places, but one of those places is actually Cleveland.

"You look at the staff and the experience and the number of ex-coordinators on the staff and it's pretty impressive."

Ian Rapoport, a national insider for NFL Network, called the Jackson hire a "no-brainer" and said it was clear the former Bengals offensive coordinator was Cleveland's top choice for the job. What intrigues Rapoport the most about Jackson's potential with the Browns is his track record of success with the quarterback position.

This past season, Dalton emerged as one of the NFL's most productive and reliable quarterbacks. Before Dalton's season-ending injury, the Bengals had one of the NFL's most efficient offenses and held a 10-2 record.

"You've seen in the Super Bowl and the championship games, the teams with the best quarterbacks are the teams that advance," Rapoport said. "You've got to get that position right. Obviously, it's been an issue in Cleveland. You've found a guy who can do a lot of things, be a great leader, dynamic in the locker room, players love him. But really, it's about the quarterback position and that will be the guy who is in charge of it.

"I feel pretty confident in where this place is headed because of him."

The hiring of Berry and Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta raised eyebrows around the league and inspired curiosity, Rapoport and Breer said. Both, though, saw the groundwork for a plan that could put the Browns back in the right direction.

"You've had teams that have used analytics for years and years but you don't call it that. You just say you're working on projects, you're working on research. Honestly, it's all the same, it's really just what you call it," Rapoport said. "Sashi is a guy who has had a bright future really since he came into the league … I think with DePodesta, I imagine it's going to work because he's been successful everywhere.

"You're going to have a lot of people outside looking in curious to what it's going to look like but at the end it's not going to be so funny."

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