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Browns fire Hue Jackson, promote Gregg Williams

Hue Jackson's ignominious run as Cleveland Browns head coach has ended.

The franchise fired Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley in a decision announced early Monday afternoon.

ESPN first reported the move.

Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will take over as interim head coach, and running backs/associate head coach Freddie Kitchens will replace Haley as offensive coordinator, according to the team's announcement.

"We greatly appreciate Hue's commitment to the Cleveland Browns organization over the last two and a half years," Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said in a statement. "We understand how critical this time period is in the development of our football team, individually and collectively, and believed it was in the organization's best interest to make the move at this time, in order to maximize our opportunities the rest of this season. We certainly only wish Hue, Michelle, and his family the best moving forward."

Jackson's two-and-a-half-year run in Cleveland ends with a disastrous 3-36-1 record (.088 winning percentage) including last year's 0-16 debacle.

After the winless season, Jackson convinced ownership to give him another year to right the ship, arguing that continuity could help an organization constantly in flux. Instead, the Browns coach crashed into the shoreline on the banks of Lake Erie.

"There were certain things that happened from an offensive production standpoint there was minimizational offensive production," Browns general manager John Dorsey said during a news conference Monday. "There was some plays that could have been made that were not made, and that's a player thing here. But, I think right now the best situation is what we're attempting to do here now is create the best environment moving forward -- not only for the players but the coaching staff as well. That's what our sole focus is on right now is the second half of the 2018 season moving forward."

Jackson's run of ineptitude in Cleveland included mismanaging his quarterback situation repeatedly, lack of sustainable improvement from high draft picks, and most recently a squabble with Haley.

The last straw for Jackson came in Sunday's 33-18 loss to the Steelers in Pittsburgh in a game that displayed the ineptness of the current Cleveland iteration. Jackson getting fired after a loss to the Steelers marks the sixth straight time the Browns have canned their coach after the second game of the season against Pittsburgh.

Firing Jackson doesn't come as a surprise. On Sunday, Rapoport noted that the Browns were poised to make a change from either Jackson or Haley if the Week 8 bout with Pittsburgh went poorly. It did.

Sitting at 2-5-1, the Browns own the talent to be better than the wayward, dysfunctional group they have been under Jackson.

The Browns finally seem to have solved their millennium-long problem at quarterback with No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield. On defense, Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward are foundational building blocks.

For all the talent brought into the building since Dorsey took over, the bungling continued in Cleveland. And the ax finally fell on Jackson.

In his career as an NFL head coach, Jackson owns a .205 win percentage, which ranks 218th out of 219 coaches in NFL history. Only former Eagles coach/owner Bert Bell owns a worse win percentage at .176 from 1936-1941.

"I personally spent a tremendous amount of time with Hue Jackson over the last two and a half years. ... So this was not an easy decision," Jimmy Haslam said. "I obviously know Todd a little bit less well because he hasn't been here as long ... but that was not an easy decision either. Having said that, I think we have to do what we think puts the organization -- and most particularly our players -- in the best position to win."

Where do the Browns turn now?

Finding a creative offensive mind to buffer Mayfield's budding career would seem the best bet, following the route the Rams (Sean McVay) and Eagles (Doug Pederson) took with their young signal-callers.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero compiled a list of possible head coaching candidates last week. One name that sticks out: Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley, who coached Mayfield in college.

Williams, who has served as the Browns defensive coordinator since last year, served as the Buffalo Bills' head coach from 2001-03 before stints as a defensive coordinator with the Washington Redskins, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints and St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams. During Williams' time with the Saints in 2012, the NFL suspended him indefinitely for his role in bounties being paid out for hits during games. He was reinstated by the league in 2013.

"I think from Gregg's standpoint, he has experience in the head coaching position," Dorsey said. "He is a veteran defensive coordinator, with a really nice resume and I think whenever you make decisions like this it's really important for the Browns organization to collaboratively sit there and talk about this, find who their best in-house candidates would be, and that's the decision we came up with."

After years of wallowing at sea, hoping to finally find the man to guide them out of the pitch-black darkness, the Browns are once again searching for a leader.

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