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Todd Haley 'right fit, right time' for Hue Jackson, Browns offense

MOBILE, Alabama -- Hue Jackson was weeks into his search for an offensive coordinator when everything changed.

The moment news leaked of Todd Haley's departure from Pittsburgh, Jackson was on the phone. If he was going to hand over the reins of Cleveland's offense to someone other than himself, Jackson wanted a play-caller with the pedigree, experience and shared philosophies of a candidate such as Haley.

By the time Haley arrived in Berea for his formal interview, he'd already spent hours on the phone with Jackson. The good vibes continued in person, and Jackson knew he had his guy.

"When somebody like Todd Haley becomes available, immediately your antennas go up," Jackson said Wednesday before Day 2 of practices at the 2018 Senior Bowl.

"I've always admired his work. I just wanted to make sure it was the right fit for myself, for him, for our staff and the football team. Like I said in the meeting, he blew me away. It was the right fit and the right time."

Haley was officially named Cleveland's new offensive coordinator Wednesday in an announcement that also included the hirings of Amos Jones as special teams coordinator and Freddie Kitchens as running backs/associate head coach. Along with new wide receivers coach Adam Henry and quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese, the Browns' offense will have a much different look to it 2018, but the overarching philosophies preached by Jackson over the past two years won't be any different.

"We want to score points. We're trying to score points as fast as we can," Jackson said. "He believes in the vertical passing game. He believes in the ability to run the football that you have to be able to do that. He likes to be creative and dynamic on offense so what he does is everything I've wanted our offense to be.

I just felt it was the right time to move on into that direction of having an offensive coordinator, and that's what we've done."

Jackson said he's "dreamed" of transitioning into what he described as a "CEO coach" role now that Haley will be calling plays on offense and veteran Gregg Williams will lead the Browns defense for a second year. In multiple interviews throughout the end of the 2017 season and again Wednesday, Jackson said he felt it was best for him to call plays the past two seasons because "I thought if the arrows were going to come, let them come at me and not somebody that I put in a position not with a quarterback they would feel comfortable with and not with an offense that they would feel comfortable with."

Now, after a disappointing 0-16 and poised with loads of assets for free agency and the draft, the Browns are "in a different phase of the process," Jackson said.

"I think we're well set up to move forward on offense where I can feel comfortable saying, 'Hue, you need to be more of the CEO head coach. Let your role really on game day be about the football team, not just the team on offense,'" Jackson said. "It is a tough job, but I needed to find somebody I could feel comfortable with, and I did in Todd."

"Bits and pieces" from the offense Jackson installed over the past two seasons will remain in place, but the head coach stressed Haley will have full control of how it's orchestrated.

It took a candidate of Haley's caliber to make Jackson comfortable with such a major shift heading into his third season as head coach.

"This is going to be Todd's opportunity to put his stamp on this offensive football team. This is going to be the Cleveland Browns offense when it's all said and done, but Todd Haley is leading the charge," Jackson said. "I think people get worried about 'Whose playbook is it?' It's not about that. It's about what it takes to win for the Cleveland Browns and that's what Todd will do."

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