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Browns coordinator Haley says ‘on same page’ with Jackson

October 25, 2018
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FILE - In this Sept. 9, 2018, file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, left, and Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson talk before an NFL football game in Cleveland. Each fall the Browns make their way to Heinz Field, typically with a new quarterback and frequently with a new head coach in tow. And each trip ends in similar fashion: with a quiet bus ride back home after another stinging defeat in a rivalry that hasn’t felt like much of one for more than two decades. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane, File)
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FILE - In this Sept. 9, 2018, file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, left, and Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson talk before an NFL football game in Cleveland. Each fall the Browns make their way to Heinz Field, typically with a new quarterback and frequently with a new head coach in tow. And each trip ends in similar fashion: with a quiet bus ride back home after another stinging defeat in a rivalry that hasn’t felt like much of one for more than two decades. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane, File)

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Browns offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s vast experience as an NFL coach — and kid — has taught him not to overreact.

Stay calm, stay the course.

So when coach Hue Jackson said following last week’s overtime loss in Tampa Bay that he wanted to be more involved in Cleveland’s offense — a seemingly pointed shot at his top assistant — Haley said he never blinked.

He chalked up Jackson’s remarks to postgame emotions.

“Yeah, that’s what it sounded like, and we talked about it,” Haley said Thursday.

“This is an emotional game. It is not for everyone. Coaching in the NFL, especially being in that spot, is not for everyone. It is a high-pressure, high-stress job, and we’ve just got to keep doing what we know is right.”

Haley, who is in his first season under Jackson following six successful years in Pittsburgh, said he wasn’t bothered by the coach’s comments and welcomes help — from anyone.

“I’ve been around a long time in this league, been around a lot of different personalities,” said Haley, whose father, Dick, served as the Steelers director of player personnel for two decades.

“One thing that I will never be is reactionary. I am here for one purpose, and that is to help this offense, continue to grow this offense and continue to develop this offense. We are all on the same page. Nothing has changed.”

Haley said Jackson’s input has been the same as usual this week as the Browns (2-4-1) prepare to face the Steelers (3-2-1).

“He sits in a number of meetings and everybody gives their idea,” Haley said. “When they are good ones, we go with it.”

Cleveland’s offense has had some issues, including too many penalties, missed assignments, slow starts and poor finishes.

The Browns haven’t scored a touchdown in the first quarter, and they’ve bogged down at key moments, which have resulted in two overtime losses and a tie — with Pittsburgh in Week 1.

After the Buccaneers beat the Browns on a 59-yard field goal in OT last week, Jackson admitted he was “fuming” when Cincinnati’s former offensive coordinator declared he would jump in and do whatever was necessary to fix Cleveland’s offensive problems.

Jackson didn’t regret saying what he did, but was concerned Haley might misunderstand his motives.

“I do not think I was worried that he would take my comments the wrong way,” said Jackson, who is 3-35-1 in two-plus seasons.

“I was worried that he would take what everybody was saying and writing and the way that everybody made it out to be the wrong way. You always have to handle those things very quickly and privately. We did, and we move on. He has been great.”

Haley said he’s put the matter with Jackson behind him and is absorbed with developing rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield, a young receiving group whose names he often confuses and winning.

“My sole focus is on trying to get this offense to be as good as it can as fast as it can as fast as I can,” Haley said. “That is all in the rearview mirror. Everybody is on the same page. Everybody has the same goal in mind. That is to score enough points to win.”

Haley also dismissed comments made by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who surmised his former coach was probably not happy with Jackson.

“It is all perception,” he said. “I am misunderstood a lot of times. I have learned to accept it, and what matters to me is that these guys respect, do what they are supposed to do and get better. That is what I take pride in.”

On Sunday, Haley will make his first bus trip to Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field as the enemy.

Raised in a proud Steelers household, he knows all about the rivalry with Cleveland. He’s also been schooled on the importance of blocking out distractions.

“I was trained by my father during the season,” he said. “We did not get a newspaper at the house. He would not let the Post-Gazette be delivered in season because he said anything you read may affect what you are trying to do. I was a little kid and that stuck with me.”

NOTES: Haley said last week’s trade of running back Carlos Hyde “was a jolt.” The Browns dealt Hyde to Jacksonville two days before their game with the Bucs. ... Jackson remains confident C JC Tretter (ankle) and Damarious Randall (groin/ankle) will play Sunday. Randall, who has moved from free safety to cornerback, had high praise for Steelers WRs Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. “I’m a big fan of both of them,” he said. “I love the way they play the game — toughness, grit and fight that they have each and every play.”

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