CLEVELAND -- Late in Sunday’s 31-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson removed his headset, handed it to assistant head coach Pep Hamilton and spoke passionately to the defense.
And much was made about Jackson taking off the headset and handing it to Hamilton, but to the Browns’ first-year coach, the focus should be on getting back to work ahead of this coming week’s game against the New York Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“Everybody is worried about my headset. What is the question with the headset?” Jackson said. “I can call a play. There is not a play that will go to our quarterback without me knowing. I know exactly what is being said to the quarterback. I know exactly what is being said to the middle linebacker. I know exactly what is being said to the special-teams coach.”
While the decision to take off the headset caused national media members to say that he quit on the Browns during their latest loss, which dropped them to 0-7 and kept them as the lone remaining winless team in the NFL, Jackson contends he did not give up on his players.
“It is not about the headset,” Jackson said. “I know you guys think if you are going to be involved in football, you have to have that on all the time. I could call the game with the headset off and just talk to the quarterback. It is not about the headset, okay? Plus, I was hot. It was a hot day, and I was getting a little sunburned. I took it off for a minute to relax. Just take the sun off my ears, I guess, whatever explanation you guys want.
“It is not about the headset. Please. It is not at all. My disappointment of taking it off wasn’t… I hope it is not tied just to the headset, where everybody thinks, ‘Okay, well, he lost it just because he took the headset off.’ No. I was watching our team, but I’m still coaching our team. I’m involved in each and everything that we’re doing offensively, defensively and special teams.”
Although the Browns had 21- and 28-yard runs and seven pass catchers each have at least a 10-yard reception, they could not match the Bengals, who rushed for 271 yards, one of the top 10 running performances in franchise history, and totaled 559 against Cleveland’s defense.
Of those 271 rushing yards, Jeremy Hill was responsible for 168 of them.
“To a man, I think the guys got the message and went out there and did that,” Jackson said. “I am not concerned. That is what it is going to be. Hopefully, it is a one-time occurrence because we have a bunch of prideful men in that locker room that are going to come back to work and are going to do their jobs better than what they have done it. We are going to coach them better and put them in better positions and give ourselves a chance to make more plays.”