It may seem hard to believe, but the Cleveland Browns lead the NFL in rushing. They’re averaging 149.3 rushing yards per game and 5.7 yards per attempt – by far the highest in the league. In fact, only one other team – Oakland, at 5.3 – is averaging more than 4.7 yards per carry.
While Oakland is 3-1, however, Cleveland is 0-4. But make no mistake: Hue Jackson is building the foundation in Cleveland.
“I think the world of Hue, and you guys know that,” former Raiders executive and current TOPS analyst Amy Trask said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Hue was in Oakland under some extraordinarily difficult circumstances and didn’t really have the opportunity in Oakland that I hope he enjoys in Cleveland. When he was named head coach, that was a staff of assistants selected by Al (Davis). Hue didn’t have the luxury in Oakland of picking his own assistants and really being a part of building a team in many regards. I hope he has that experience in Cleveland. He does what I believe the very best coaches do, which is evaluate the talent on his roster and best positions his players and his team to succeed. I think he’s got a tremendous, tremendous mind for offensive football, in particular, but football as a whole. He’s a student of the game. Very, very cerebral.”
Jackson was the Raiders offensive coordinator in 2010 and head coach in 2011.
“When he took over, the first thing he did was grab players – Darren McFadden, in particular – and said, ‘What do you do best? Tell me, Darren, what you believe you excel at doing?’” Trask said. “He listened, and then he maximized Darren McFadden’s talent. And Darren had, I believe, his best year as a Raider under Hue Jackson.”
McFadden had 1,664 total yards and 10 touchdowns (seven rush, three receiving) in 2010, when Jackson was Oakland’s offensive coordinator. McFadden then had 768 total yards and five touchdowns (four rush, one receiving) in just seven games in 2011.
Heck, Jackson even turned Jason Campbell into a serviceable NFL quarterback.
“His play-calling was magnificent,” Trask said. “Every head coach has areas in which they are better than others. Hue Jackson is just an incredible play-caller and really does take whatever talent he’s handed and maximizes it. . . . Right now, he is holding together that Cleveland roster with duct tape and bandages. The roster had a number of holes going into the season and, now with the injuries incurred, even more holes. So if Sashi Brown and (Paul) DePodesta give him a roster which is at all remotely competitive, I think the Cleveland Browns can be on the right track for a while.”
Indianapolis, meanwhile, fell to 1-3 with a 30-27 loss to the Jaguars in London on Sunday. Andrew Luck had a decent game, throwing for 234 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, but he isn’t getting a ton of help. The Colts have allowed 30+ points in all three of their losses.
“If you earn the No. 1 draft pick, there’s a reason you’ve earned the No. 1 draft pick, but that quarterback is not going to disguise every single hole in your roster,” Trask said. “Imagine Jacksonville and what Jacksonville has done to build out that roster, and imagine Indianapolis if you swap quarterbacks. if you put Andrew Luck on the Jacksonville Jaguars, I think that’s en entirely different equation than Luck is right now in Indianapolis because they have not built out that roster around him.”