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NFL Review and Preview: Cleveland Browns soap opera takes a predictable turn

NFL Review and Preview: Cleveland Browns soap opera takes a predictable turn
Cleveland coach Hue Jackson was backed by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam for a long time, but finally he had to go. (David Richard / Associated Press)

The acrimonious union of Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley ended Monday in divorce.

Anyone who watched “Hard Knocks” this summer could see where that bumpy marriage was headed.

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Neither was awarded custody; both Jackson and Haley were fired.

“The message today is we're not going to put up with internal discord,” Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said Monday in a news conference with general manager John Dorsey. “We want people who are collaborative and work together.”

The Browns chose a curious Mr. Right: defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, once suspended by the NFL for his role as mastermind of the infamous New Orleans pay-to-injure bounty scandal.

Williams takes over as interim coach as the Browns prepare to host 7-1 Kansas City, which, incidentally, once fired Haley as head coach.

“We had some concerns going into the game; obviously yesterday's performance was disappointing,” Haslam said, referring to a 33-18 loss at Pittsburgh that dropped Cleveland to 2-5-1. “We had several of our key people involved in this conversations last night and this morning and did what we think's best for the organization.”

Such is the NFL’s soap opera du jour, which also includes this coincidence, noted on Twitter by @PFTCommenter: Jackson is the sixth consecutive Browns coach fired after losing the second matchup of the season with the Steelers, the other five being Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski, and Mike Pettine.

Then again, all five of those were dismissed at the end of the season. Jackson is the first Browns coach to be fired during the season since Butch Davis in 2004. The franchise is a veritable Factory of Firing, on its 19th head coach since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

The Steelers have had three head coaches during that span — the same number of wins the Browns have had in the last 2 1/2 seasons.

Wheeling and dealing

The league’s trade deadline is 1 p.m. PDT Tuesday, and some interesting names are getting some buzz. Might benched Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston be in the mix? He could be a fit in Jacksonville, or maybe with the New York Giants.

How about Arizona’s Patrick Peterson? The Cardinals have said they’re hanging on to the seven-time Pro Bowl cornerback, but could get some enticing offers at the 11th hour.

Might the Steelers finally do something with disgruntled running back Le’Veon Bell? What about Detroit receiver Golden Tate or Denver’s Demaryius Thomas?

Teams already have done some swapping this season, with Oakland sending receiver Amari Cooper to Dallas, Cleveland shipping running back Carlos Hyde to Jacksonville, and the Giants dealing cornerback Eli Apple to New Orleans and defensive tackle Damon Harrison to Detroit.

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Nothing approaches the Khalil Mack-to-Chicago deal, but it’s worth watching the transaction wire as that deadline approaches.

Game of the week

The titans will be playing in New Orleans on Sunday, and there won’t be a team from Tennessee involved.

It’s the 8-0 Rams, the league’s only undefeated team, against the 6-1 Saints with the driver’s seat in the NFC up for grabs.

Aaron Rodgers picked on the Rams’ cornerbacks Sunday, but the Saints have their own issues in that department. Any cornerback not named Marshon Lattimore is something of a liability for New Orleans, which gave up a fourth-round pick for Apple last week and promptly started him Sunday at Minnesota.

Apple played 70 of the 73 defensive snaps in the Saints’ 30-20 win over the Vikings. He pushed Ken Crawley from starting to a healthy scratch.

Although Apple led the Saints with nine tackles, he also was flagged twice for pass interference. Nickel corner P.J. Williams had a pick-six against Kirk Cousins, but was vulnerable before and after that 45-yard score. The Rams picked on Williams, too, in last year’s win over the Saints at the Coliseum.

The Saints would love to trade for the Cardinals’ Peterson, but they don’t have a lot of ammunition by way of draft picks. They have only one selection in the first four rounds next spring, in the second round.

Just a number

Adrian Peterson isn’t ageless, he just plays that way.

The Washington running back had 149 yards in 26 carries Sunday against the Giants, and at 33 years and 221 days, he became the oldest player in NFL history to record at least 100 yards rushing with both a rushing and receiving touchdown in a game.

If that statistic isn’t obscure enough, consider that Peterson, who had a 64-yard touchdown run, joined Steve Bono, Rocky Bleier and Jim Thorpe as the only players with a scoring run of at least 60 yards at 33 or older.

The Redskins host Atlanta on Sunday, and the Falcons have given up the fourth-most rushing touchdowns (nine) through the first half of the season.

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