It's getting to be cold in the Midwest, so perhaps it's a good thing the temperature of Hue Jackson's seat continues to rise.
Fresh off yet another road loss, the Browns coach wasn't ready to throw any of his assistants under the bus a week after alluding he'd like to stick his hands into the offense. Jackson walked a couple steps backward on his comments about getting involved with the offensive playcalling, a duty that belongs to offensive coordinator Todd Haley, even after the Browns mustered just 18 points in Sunday's loss to the Steelers.
His frustration with the topic (and his team's fortunes) showed in his comments.
"There's nothing wrong with my relationship with [Todd] Haley," Jackson said. "Guys, I said what I said last week. And obviously, it had legs. But I've never said I wanted to take over play-calling. I said I wanted to help. That's it.
"So today, now all of a sudden, it's just, big old thing, because sure, I mean everybody's going to look and say, well what's going on? But the only thing that's going on is we need to get better. We need to coach better, we need to get better."
A need to improve is undeniable for a squad that is 2-5-1, has lost three straight games in a variety of fashions and mustered just 237 yards of offense Sunday. The Week 8 loss didn't give much reason for optimism, with a Browns team that tied the Steelers in Week 1 failing to take advantage of early opportunities, and then failing to follow up successes with adequate play. One needs to look no further than Pittsburgh's five-play, 75-yard drive that followed a Cleveland score in the third, and effectively stopped the Browns' momentum in its tracks.
Cleveland's season, which began with pomp (via Hard Knocks) and promise, now seems destined for a change at the head coaching position. The biggest question now, though, is whether Jackson goes first, or he preempts termination by first firing his most-qualified assistant to fill his shoes: Haley. It'll be worth monitoring their sideline interactions in the week(s) ahead.
This could be seen as getting ahead of ourselves, but we know how these things go for football teams dealing with a recent history of losing and a bevy of key injuries. And with one of the league's most potent attacks in the Kansas City Chiefs coming to town next week, there seems to be no rest available for the weary.