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Hue Jackson, Todd Haley dysfunction could be coming to a head

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This Sunday, Cleveland and Pittsburgh will finish what they started earlier in the season, but this time around, the Browns have more to prove.

Earlier this year, the Browns bought a dog with a reputation for biting. And they may now get rid of the dog, because it’s biting.

That’s essentially what’s happening when it comes to the tenure of offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Haley could soon be on the outs, due to lingering dysfunction between him and coach Hue Jackson.

And no one should be surprised by this development.

Haley had a well-earned reputation for being a guy who isn’t afraid to speak his mind, and for being a guy who from time to time gets into interpersonal altercations with those in his immediate vicinity. An awkward exchange from the first episode of Hard Knocks regarding the question of resting players in training camp made it clear that Jackson and Haley aren’t on the same page.

It’s also possible that the situation will be resolved not with Haley being fired but with Jackson finally getting his long-overdue pink slip. From the outset of the season, some believed that G.M. John Dorsey inevitably would fire Jackson, elevate Haley to interim coach, and then hire someone new to run the team after 2018.

Last year, Jackson managed to win an internal struggle with former V.P. of football operations Sashi Brown, pinning all of the blame on him and emerging from an 0-16 season (1-31 over two) somehow still employed. Jackson may be going back to that well again, trying to persuade ownership that Haley, not Hue, is the problem.

To the extent that Haley was hand picked by Dorsey (and Haley surely was) to join the team and run the offense, the Jackson-or-Haley question could go a long way toward resolving whether Dorsey will get to hire a new coach after the season, or whether Jackson will manage to once again persuade Jimmy and Dee Haslam to keep him around for what would be a fourth season.

With the bye week looming after games against the Steelers, Chiefs, and Falcons, don’t be surprised if the situation explodes at some point in the next 15 days.