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Need to Know: Hue Jackson ready to assist, ‘infuse’ himself as offense strives for complete performance

Hue Jackson inspired plenty of speculation after Sunday’s postgame comments about his increased role with the offense. On Monday, Jackson clarified his statements. Namely, he said he will not take over play-calling duties. Todd Haley will remain in that role and Jackson will assist. 

“Everybody sometimes has their own blind spots,” Jackson said. “I am not saying that Todd does, but I am sure that another good set of eyes on certain things might help.”

To be clear: Jackson said nothing Sunday that indicated he would call plays going forward. The confusion, Jackson said, may have come from the stern, frustrated tone with which he delivered his desire to help Haley. The Browns had just lost another heartbreaker, and Jackson said his competitive frustration bled into his postgame press conference.

“I think sometimes the way maybe it came off – and I take responsibility for that – was not in harshness of (the) staff,” Jackson said. “It was in harshness of ‘God, I want to win.’ I want to do whatever I think it is going to take to help our football team win. That is where my motivation was coming from.

“We did not have a very good start, and we are firing on all cylinders in the second half. My whole thing there is if we can put it together – first half and second half – then maybe we will have a better chance of finishing some of these games and winning. I want to take a really good look at it, be very thorough through it, watch it all and see where I can help – infuse myself, I do plan on doing that, infuse myself to help and assist our offensive coaching staff.”

-- Browns players expressed frustration with a controversial officiating decision in Sunday’s fourth quarter, and Jackson echoed his disappointment Monday. It stemmed from Baker Mayfield’s long fourth-quarter scramble. As Mayfield slid at the end of his 35-yard run, Buccaneers safety Jordan Whitehead lowered his head and hit Mayfield in the side of the helmet.

Officials initially flagged Whitehead for the hit but ultimately picked it up, saying Mayfield had not started his slide soon enough to offer him the protections quarterbacks typically receive in those types of situations.

The Browns sent tape of calls they deemed questionable — including the hit on Mayfield — to the league office and will hear back later this week.

“Trust me, as I have said before, we got on the phones,” Jackson said. “We do quite a bit here with the league office, with (Senior Vice President of Officiating) Al Riveron who is the head of the officials. We have had quite a few conversations. That was disappointing. That is all that I can say.

-- Mayfield took plenty of other hits Sunday. He was sacked five times, marking the third straight game he’s reached that painful threshold. And as center JC Tretter explained Monday, fixing that problem involves several moving parts meshing together.

“It’s a little bit of everything,” Tretter said. “It’s the entire offense. It’s the offensive line holding up, backs and tight ends when they’re involved in protection, the quarterback protecting himself and the receivers helping us out and getting open. You can’t really pin it on anyone. Each sack (is) its own instance.”

Improving as a unit will be key against the Steelers’ defense, which will come into the game tied for second in the NFL in sacks.

-- Wide receiver Rashard Higgins, who missed his second straight game with a knee injury, could help with the offense’s cohesion, but Jackson said Monday it’s too early to determine Higgins’ status against the Steelers. The same goes for linebacker Joe Schobert, who missed Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury.

Tretter, who played every snap on Sunday despite a high ankle sprain, said he woke up sore Monday but plans to keep playing with the injury.

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