Glendale Community College’s Jackson takes Cleveland Browns coaching gig

Former Glendale Community College quarterback Hue Jackson was named head coach of the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Former Glendale Community College quarterback Hue Jackson was named head coach of the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

It took five years, but former Glendale Community College quarterback Hue Jackson will rejoin the head coaching ranks of the National Football League.

The Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator was hired as the head coach of the archrival Cleveland Browns on Wednesday afternoon.

Jackson, 50, is the 16th head coach in the history of the Browns and one of three Bengals assistants to recently leave the club for head coaching gigs, joining Mike Zimmer (Minnesota) and Jay Gruden (Washington).

“What a tremendous honor and privilege to be the head coach of the Cleveland Browns and a part of the Dawg Pound,” Jackson stated via a team press release. “I’m so looking forward to it and have so many people to thank.

“Obviously [Browns owners] Jimmy and Dee Haslam for this opportunity, going through the process of meeting [executive vice president of football operations] Sashi Brown and [chief strategy officer] Paul DePodesta. What an exciting time to have an opportunity to work with people like that.”

The move was somewhat sudden given that Jackson first met with team officials Sunday in Cincinnati after Cincinnati’s difficult 18-16 loss Saturday evening in the AFC Wild-Card Round.

Jackson had also interviewed with San Francisco on Sunday, but media reports on Tuesday said that 49ers were out of the running after Cleveland had a second meeting with Jackson, also on Tuesday.

Even after both sit-downs, Jackson was still planning on visiting with the New York Giants on Wednesday evening. That outcome fizzled when Cleveland offered the job and Jackson accepted it.

In the same press release, Jimmy Haslam didn’t hide his enthusiasm in making the hire.

“It’s very exciting for us to name Hue Jackson as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns,” he stated. “He embodies all the qualities that will provide strong leadership for our football team. He is highly experienced, deeply passionate about winning and relentless in trying to find ways to put his players in the best position to succeed.

“He possesses that unique ability to reach the entire locker room in a way that demands accountability while getting the buy-in and team-first mentality that leads to positive results. I think our players will love playing for him. Dee and I warmly welcome Hue and his family to Cleveland.”

Jackson’s California roots are deep outside of Glendale, as the veteran has held coaching or coordinator duties in state at Pacific University, Cal State Fullerton, California Berkeley and USC.

His last job in California was also his last as a head coach as Jackson was in charge of the Oakland Raiders in 2011 and piloted the team to an 8-8 record.

While the 8-8 record also tied for the club’s most wins since the 2002 squad lost Super Bowl XXXVII, Jackson was still fired.

Since that ouster, he returned to Cincinnati in 2012 and took a variety of coaching roles before being named the team’s offensive coordinator in 2014.

This past season, the Bengals finished with the most regular-season victories since 1988 as the team ended 12-4, won the AFC North for the second time in the three years and was seeded third in the playoffs.

Unfortunately for Jackson and Cincinnati, they could not break a postseason drought that dated back to 1990 as Cincinnati lost a bitter contest to heated rival Pittsburgh on Saturday.

While much of the emphasis after the game was on the Bengals’ eight-game playoff losing streak or the team’s string of seven consecutive wild-card round defeats, Jackson performed wonders with his quarterbacks.

Starting quarterback Andy Dalton enjoyed his finest season as a pro, as he passed for 3,250 yards and 25 touchdowns versus seven interceptions in 13 games.

Dalton broke his thumb versus the Steelers on Dec. 13 and was replaced by little-used back-up AJ McCarron.

Maybe Jackson’s best coaching job was with McCarron, as the former Alabama quarterback played in the final four games of the season with three straight starts.

Since entering versus the Steelers in December, McCarron completed 76 of 115 passes for 832 yards and six touchdowns versus two interceptions to close out the regular season.

In the playoffs, McCarron completed 23 of 41 passes for 212 yards and one touchdown and one interception.

Even though Jackson is the sixth Browns head coach over the last eight years, he’s looking forward to the challenge of taking over a team that finished 3-13 last season and hasn’t produced a winning campaign since 2007.

“I think what our fans will be proud of and excited about is we’re going to be a football team that’s going to play very exciting football,” Jackson stated. “We’re going to be passionate about what we do and we understand there’s a lot of work involved in order to meet our goals.”