On Monday, the Cleveland Browns fired head coach Hue Jackson. The Browns were 2-5-1 this season, which is not good by any standards, unless you are the Browns in which case those two wins double your previous win total from Jackson’s first two seasons combined.
The firing makes no sense because by the standards established by the Browns over the last two and a half seasons, that is an excellent record. And when you look beyond the record, four of the Browns’ games this year have gone to overtime, and they only managed to win one of those. With a couple of extra made field goals here and there they could even have a winning record. Imagine that, the Browns with a winning record.
They even played close with the New Orleans Saints, a team that is one of the favorites to win the NFC this season. They led that game 12-6 heading into the fourth quarter and ended up only losing by three points.
Add to the equation the fact that they may have finally solved their quarterback problem by drafting Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick of the most recent NFL draft. Mayfield led the Browns to their first win in 635 days when he subbed in against the New York Jets, and since that game he has started all five games for the Browns.
With improving results and one of their biggest problems from the past potentially solved, the Browns were trending upward. No one expected Jackson to get fired because it seemed like he had made it through the worst of it and had come out the other side with something to finally get excited about.
If the Browns were going to fire Jackson, they should have done so after last season, when they became the second team in NFL history to go 0-16. It was Jackson’s second season with the team, and the win-less year put his overall record as Browns head coach at 1-31. No one would have blinked an eye if the Browns wanted to completely overhaul the team and find a new coach to start fresh with all the new, young players they had accumulated to that point.
Instead, they stayed the course with Jackson, essentially telling the entire League he was the guy who they believed would best develop Mayfield and put them back into playoff contention. Now it is clear the Browns have no idea what they are doing, even on a week by week basis, let alone a long-term plan on how to make the team competitive again.
While a 2-5-1 record is not ideal for any NFL team, they have to have perspective when making coaching decisions. The same goes for the Browns’ hometown NBA team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. On Sunday the Cavs fired head coach Tyronn Lue after a 0-6 start to the season in the wake of losing LeBron James to free agency.
Personally, I don’t think any coach in the NBA should be fired after just six games but especially not from a team with expectations as low as the Cavs’. People were shocked last year when LeBron managed to basically single-handedly drag this rag-tag group of players all the way to the NBA Finals, so this year they were expected to be a bottom-of-the-Conference team because he decided to move on to the Los Angeles Lakers.
In addition to the low expectations, they lost their best player, Kevin Love, in their fourth game of the season, and he is expected to be out for multiple weeks with a toe injury. With Love out, the team has no player who can even be considered its best player.
With the lack of talent on the roster, it was no surprise that the Cavs lost their first six games. It just seemed like a taste of the season to come for the team. No one was blaming Tyronn Lue or arguing that the team was under performing, so firing Lue makes no sense at all.
I’m not sure what the Cavs are trying to accomplish by firing Lue. He had a great relationship with the veterans on the team, having led them to their last three Finals appearances, including a victory in the Finals in the 2015-16 season. That championship was the first the entire city of Cleveland had attained in any sport since the 1964 Browns won the Super Bowl.
During his tenure as head coach, Lue led the team to a 128-83 regular season record, one of the best of any coach who was fired. This is not unheard of for the Cavaliers. Of the 33 NBA coaches who have been fired despite having won over 60 percent of their games coached, three of them are Cavaliers coaches who coached while LeBron was on the team. In addition to Lue, his predecessor David Blatt led the Cavs to a 83-40 record in one and a half seasons, and Mike Brown went 272-138 from 2006-2010 as head coach of the Cavs.
I’m happy that LeBron broke the 52-year title drought in his hometown of Cleveland, because with the recent moves the Browns and Cavaliers have made it does not look like either team will be winning championships anytime soon. All the hope of Cleveland lies in the Indians, where Terry Francona is in no danger of losing his job right now. But with Cleveland sports, this week proved you truly never know what will happen. If Francona and the Indians do not get out to a hot start, who knows if he will join the ranks of Jackson and Lue.