Hue Jackson completely remade his defensive staff after the Cleveland Browns went 1-15 in 2016.
After a winless 2017, Jackson turned to the offense and special teams.
Yes, the obvious conclusion is there might not be anyone else left to change if 2018 doesn’t go well. Alas, that negativity is not appropriate for the Browns Season of Optimism, which annually begins in February and runs through the end of June.
To run the offense, Jackson hired a veteran and credible coordinator in Todd Haley along with four other new position coaches. Special-teams coach Chis Tabor left for the same job with the Bears, and Jackson moved Al Saunders from receivers coach to senior assistant/special projects.
Offseason work has begun in earnest, and as the combine approaches here’s how the staff breaks down:
Offensive coordinator: Jackson brings a credible veteran coach to run the offense in Haley, but alas he will not be bringing Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown or Le'Veon Bell. The hire of Haley was a bit of a coup. He’s an experienced and blunt voice, and he will absolutely relieve Jackson of the duties he assumed the past two years. In theory, it should help with the overall big picture.
Quarterbacks: Ken Zampese replaces David Lee, who lasted one year. Zampese worked with the Bengals for 15 years and had a brief stint as offensive coordinator this year but was fired in September. He was the Bengals' quarterbacks coach for 13 seasons, including the two when Jackson was the offensive coordinator. Jackson viewed his hiring as an important step in bringing in someone he knew and has worked with.
Running backs: Freddie Kitchens has this title as well as the associate head coach. Kitchens spent time working with Haley when Haley was the Cardinals' offensive coordinator, so his knowledge of Haley’s system is a plus. Kitchens spent 11 years in Arizona, working with tight ends, quarterbacks and running backs.
Receivers: Adam Henry replaces longtime receivers coach Al Saunders, who moves to senior assistant/special projects. Henry worked for the Giants the past two seasons, meaning he goes from working with Odell Beckham Jr. to Josh Gordon. Henry also coached Beckham and free-agent wide receiver Jarvis Landry (Miami) in college at LSU. Henry was with the Raiders when Jackson coached them. He will be assisted by Bob Saunders, Al’s son.
Tight ends: Greg Seamon, a longtime friend and associate of Jackson's, stays.
Offensive line: Bob Wylie, backed by Mark Hutson, remains for a second season.
Defensive coordinator: Gregg Williams will be back. The positive: The defense in 2017 held opponents to 3.35 yards per carry, the second-best mark by a Browns team ever and second in the NFL. The negative: The defense gave up 28 touchdown passes and the Browns finished 0-16.
Defensive line: Clyde Simmons and Ken Delgado return for their second season.
Linebackers: Blake Williams, also in his second season.
Secondary: DeWayne Walker and Jerod Kruse, second season.
Special teams: Amos Jones moves from the Cardinals to the Browns in the same job he held in Arizona, with Sam Shade as his assistant. This bears watching; the Cardinals special teams had their issues last season and were ranked 30th overall in an annual analysis by longtime NFL writer Rich Gosselin of the Hall of Fame Network. The Browns ranked 29th. Sometimes, though, special-teams success can be the result of the roster’s overall talent. An injured roster depletes depth, which affects continuity and overall talent. Tabor's unit may have ranked 29th in 2017, but he’s a respected NFL coach.