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John Dorsey declines to declare categorically that Hue Jackson will be back

Green Bay Packers v Cleveland Browns

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 10: New General Manager John Dorsey (L) and owner Jimmy Haslam talk before the game against the Green Bay Packers at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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Whether he intended to or not, new Browns G.M. John Dorsey made plenty of waves on Thursday with a radio appearance in Cleveland.

Headline No. 1: The prior regime didn’t get “real players.”

Headline No. 2: Coach Hue Jackson may not definitely be coming back next year.

In Dorsey’s interview with ESPN Cleveland, the new G.M. was asked to echo the comment twice made by his boss, Jimmy Haslam, that Jackson definitely will return next season. Dorsey didn’t say “of course” or any other version of that message.

Here’s the question from Aaron Goldhammer: “There’s some reports out, and I just want to be clear about this, John, about you potentially at the end of the year, if the Browns don’t win a game, pushing for a coaching change. Are you willing to categorically say today that Hue Jackson will be the coach of the Browns in 2018?”

“I’ve always said I live in the present, and I build for the future,” Dorsey told Goldhammer. “I live in the present. Right now the sun’s out, the tarps are coming off the field, we’re practicing outside, we’re getting ready to play the Baltimore Ravens, which is a divisional game. That’s my sole focus. And then it’s also getting familiar with the whole layout and the organizational structure in terms of creating my daily routine.”

The response serves only to bolster the existing belief that Dorsey will be (or perhaps already is) making the case privately to Haslam that, in order to truly turn things around, Dorsey needs to assemble his own team -- of players, executives, and coaches.

How could his “we’ll see” answer be interpreted any differently? The owner twice says Jackson will be back, and the new G.M. opts not to paint himself into that same corner. While it doesn’t mean Jackson definitely won’t be back, it’s obvious that the notion that Jackson definitely will return isn’t nearly as clear as Haslam made it out to be.