Browns Clean House Among First-Year Coaches As Hue Jackson And Company Remain Safe


Shortly after the Pittsburgh Steelers closed out their season with a disheartening overtime victory, the Cleveland Browns ownership sent out an open letter to the organization’s supporters, apologizing to them for the season that they had, during which they lost their first 14 games, gave up by far the most sacks, and ended up 1-15, the worst season in franchise history.

In that same letter, the ownership reinforced its believe that they do have the right people in place at the top of the food chain to help turn the team around into a contender, starting with Head Coach Hue Jackson, who was just brought in last season.

Jackson will be back for another year. But he will be working with a much different coaching staff, as the Browns have been busy with their offseason already cleaning house, starting with the decision to replace former Steelers defensive backs coach Ray Horton as defensive coordinator, bringing in Gregg Williams, who is best known for the Bountygate scandal.

He was not the only one to go, however, as it was just announced yesterday that several other members of the coaching staff—which was pretty extensive by league standards—were relieved of their duties, including four members of their defensive coaching staff.

Gone are defensive backs coach Louie Cioffi, inside linebackers coach Johnny Holland, outside linebackers coach Ryan Slowik, and assistant defensive backs coach Cannon Matthews. In addition to the gutting of the defensive coaching staff, offensive line coach Hal Hunter was also let go.


Currently, the Browns have no coaches on their staff to coach the outside linebackers or the defensive backs, but they did leave the defensive line staff intact. They also have an assistant offensive line coach still on board. None of the above mentioned coaches have been replaced as of yet.

Cioffi has a long history in the NFL, climbing the ranks of the Bengals organization for over a decade. He now has the distinction of being fired by the Browns twice, as he was also a part of the 2013 regime that was wiped out. He joins Ray Horton in that department.

Holland has an extensive history as a linebackers coach, while Slowik had been a longtime assistant. Both of them were in their first season with the organization. So, too, were Matthews and Hunter. All of them now looking for work after a 1-15 season.

While the ownership may have thrown their support behind those on the top of the food chain, they were less than willing to extend the rest of the coaching staff the same sort of leniency. All six coaches who have been fired so far were hired this year, with only two of them having previously worked with the organization at all.

They may believe they have the right people at the top, but they clearly felt differently about those as the bottom. We shall see where things go from here, particularly now with Williams at the helm for the defense.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • twitch.tv/smokerjoesteelers

    Hey if 15-1 is by far the worst season sign me up now I will take it in a heartbeat

  • will

    Matt must have been with Joey when he wrote this.

  • twitch.tv/smokerjoesteelers

    He got it right the second time he wrote it though

  • Phil Brenneman II

    You have to wonder how much of this was Jacksons decision vs ownership. The way I see it is, if they trust the guy at the top they need to let him get the team he wants in place because he was to work with them more closely and frequently than anyone else. It only makes his job harder if he doesn’t like the people around him.

    If it was on the higher ups, it seems nothing has really changed in Cleveland.

  • The Truth

    They kept Hue Jackson? Haha.

  • Its just like the Brown to have no continuity. So they kept their head coach and a few offensive coaches but bring in a whole new defensive regime. It won’t change anything. Their problem last year was not defense. It was the fact that they started 6 different QBs last year.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    ill take a bad 15-1 season.

  • steelburg

    I agree. In some strange way I’m kind of rooting for Jackson to turn those guys around just not at the expense of our 2 wins a year lol.

  • WilliamSekinger

    Just my opinion, but I think the Gregg Williams hire is a colossal mistake.

  • StolenUpVotes

    ” ended up 15-1, the worst season in franchise history.”

    Didn’t realize real life turned into Madden lol

  • RickM

    It’s funny. Hue Jackson became the new Head Coach of the Browns last year and one of his first hires was Ray Horton. Less than a year later, he’s replacing him. I know Cleveland gave up 28.2 point a game, 3rd most in the league. But they had an anemic offense and reinforcements like Myles Garrett (and others) are almost certainly being added. It seems like an under-pressure Head Coach wasn’t willing to fight for a second year for Horton, and that’s unfortunate.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    Once they hired Gregg Williams it was a given that the defensive staff would be purged. Unless he has changed, Williams is a system coach- players have to adapt to his playbook regardless of their skill sets. He pretty much ruined Lavarr Arrington’s career when he was with the Redskins.

    But maybe that is what they need with all the young players.

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    These Browns!!! Oi vey!!!!

    Apparently the O line coach was spared because ownership/FO realizes that getting rid of what? two or three of the starters? hamstrung his efforts!

    But the other assistant coaches got the axe because (despite the fact that the players in place were ALREADY crappy!) the FO did NOT dump ‘talent’ in their areas of responsibility and they were still able to suck too much.

    Poor Hue Jackson!! He has watched Marvin Lewis underperform for years with no consequences and yet survive – his head must be spinning!!

    The Brownies just never get it. WHO would want to coach in CLE knowing that even Hue Jackson cannot save you!!

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    Yes but given that it’s the Browns, they see firing ONLY the assistant coaches as the act of an organization that is a pinnacle of stability!!!

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    I confess that I have rooted for them before, especially when the play the Bungholes and the Ratbirds!! 😎

  • ATL96STEELER

    They knew they would be a bad football team, you can’t gut an already bad team of several of its key players like they did and expect better results than ’15.

    But you can’t go 1-15 and not make any changes…they decided to make these guys the scapegoats.

  • ATL96STEELER

    Horton knows def, been around a long time. Maybe there was a disconnect on system, because there wasn’t enough talent on either side of the ball to win very many games. Like you said, using #1 & #12 on guys that can most likely come in a play right away on DEF will only help the Browns.

    Of course they will probably panic and use #12 on a QB.

  • Rob H

    Being that one of the HC’s most important jobs is to make good assistant coaching hires that match the kind of team they want to build, this isn’t exactly a good start.
    It reeks of a Browns type of thing though, completely changing your defensive scheme 1 season after drafting and signing players to play in that scheme. SMH

  • RickM

    You’re right on pretty much every account. It is all about the talent given to the coach (as Lake has proven this year). And I’m sure with better takent Horton would do a good job. I too can see the Browns taking a QB at 12. O-Line seems a smarter move but with 4 picks in the Top 50 they could fill that need later. I guess it’ll depend if Jackson really likes one of better prospects.

  • ATL96STEELER

    Yep…they definitely need a RT, and if there is a guy worthy of a top 12 slot I can see them doing that.

    Robinson is a 4-3 guy I think… If it were me, I probably go with the Garrett from TX A&M, then at 12, go with Peppers from MICH, or Tabor from FL, or Adams from LSU…those guys are all going to start fairly quickly I think. Then use some of those extra picks to get back into the bottom of the 1st and get a QB.

    Most of the OT guys I think they can find later.

    Either way, I expect them to take a QB fairly high, Jackson would be foolish to anchor himself with Griffin or Kessler.

  • Lil Smitty

    I agree because he has always been a 4/3 defensive formation guy. Most of the Browns front seven Don’t fit that type of defense. The team will need to get new players to fit his scheme.
    I guess that means they need to trade away some of their Dlineman and linebackers.

  • AndyR34

    There’s an exercise in futility! I should know…I have done the same! 😢

  • Rotten Sircus

    One has to feel bad for not only Browns fans but for the All Star Players like Joe Thomas & Joe Haden. If the Steelers could afford either of these two I’d Love to see them in a Steelers uniform !!! Ijs …

  • AndyR34

    Way to go Brownies! Looks like Hunter was made to pay for the decision of the really brilliant front office guys that Cam Erving and Austin Pasztor were good reolacements for Alex Mack (Pro-Bowl) and Mitchell Schwartz. SMH! I guess that sometimes happens when you hire geniuses.

  • DoctorNoah

    Headlines: “Raging Hobo Dumpster Fire that is Cleveland Claims Five”

  • thomas hmmmm

    What a mess!

  • Geoffrey Benedict

    If they get coaches and players that fit his system it’s the right move. He’s good when he gets a defense built.

  • PaeperCup

    Everytime. They are my third least favorite team in the AFCN

  • Douglas Andrews

    Didn’t think the Browns defense was terrible. The Offense didn’t exactly light it up this year. The first issue for the Browns to fix is the offensive line.

  • I root for the Brownies against everyone but the Steelers at this point. I really like Hue Jackson, and the players do too, that’s a step in the right direction I guess.

  • Matthew Marczi

    When your loss column is the more significant number, you tend to think of it first.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I see a lot of promise there. They got some good players developing now in Shelton, Ogbah, Nassib, Orchard, and a few others. That Boddy-Calhoun is an interesting player to watch in the future as well. They just need to stop losing players like Gipson. Nobody wants to play for the Browns and they rarely pony up to keep them.

  • Applebite

    What ever it takes, just get it fixed…

  • SouthernSteel

    Shelton for 6th round pick!!!

  • SouthernSteel

    Still think they should lose draft picks for putting together one of the worse teams ever…

  • twitch.tv/smokerjoesteelers

    Easy mistake just didnt want anyone to give you grief over it is all

  • Douglas Andrews

    Danny Shelton is an impactfull player in the middle. I like the LB corps although Jamie Collins is on my Steeler FA wishlist. With all the draft picks the Browns have I’d focus on shoring up both the offensive and defensive lines. Doesn’t matter who they play at QB if if he can’t stay healthy all season. There are some nice pieces on offense that just need time to develop but a good O line would be a good place to start. Maybe they can find someone willing to trade up this year and stock up more picks. I’m just glad they gave Coach Jackson another year to try n fix things.

  • ATL96STEELER

    Agreed. I think that’s why Horton was let go…they probably felt they had enough talent on that side of the ball to get better results. But they were young, not quite ready to be consistent impact players yet.

    The Browns can probably make a pretty big leap next year to be a 6 to 8 win team if they can keep one QB under center for most of the season.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Man, I even forgot about Collins…if they keep him.

  • Douglas Andrews

    He’d look good in a Steelers uniform the man can play OLB and ILB. Jamie Collins and a 1st round OLB book it!