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Hue Jackson shuffles coaching staff — Ken Zampese in as QB coach; Kirby Wilson out as run game coordinator

Hue Jackson didn’t have the same patience with his coaching staff that owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam have shown him.

For the second straight offseason, Jackson made significant changes.

Out are run game coordinator/running backs coach Kirby Wilson, special teams coordinator Chris Tabor, quarterbacks coach David Lee, special teams assistant Shawn Mennenga and special teams quality control coach Stan Watson, the team announced Friday.

Tabor took the special teams coordinator job with the Chicago Bears.


Jackson hired Ken Zampese to replace Lee as quarterbacks coach, and added Adam Henry as receivers coach. More moves are to come.

Jackson is still evaluating whether to add an offensive coordinator after serving in that role for his two seasons. He interviewed Texans quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan for the job this week.

Al Saunders, who was senior offensive assistant/wide receivers coach the past two seasons, will transition into an advisory role. His title will be senior assistant/special projects.

Jackson overhauled the defensive staff after going 1-15 in 2016. The Browns went 0-16 in 2017.

 “At the end of each season, you have to evaluate everything,” Jackson said in the news release announcing the moves. “The coaching staff is obviously a big part of that process and it starts with me. The truth of the matter is, we need to improve in every area. These are difficult decisions and for the coaches we’ve decided to part with, we thank them. They are good men, that have worked extremely hard and I appreciate their efforts.”

The Browns quarterback room will look a lot different next season, and the makeover started with the coach. Lee spent just one season with the Browns after taking over for Pep Hamilton, who left after a year to join Jim Harbaugh’s staff at Michigan.

The Browns are expected to draft a quarterback with the No. 1 pick, likely USC’s Sam Darnold or UCLA’s Josh Rosen. They are also likely to add a veteran through trade or free agency.

Zampese, 50, has been an assistant in the NFL since 1998 and served as Bengals quarterbacks coach from 2003-15, the final two years with Jackson as offensive coordinator. Zampese worked with quarterbacks Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton and AJ McCarron, with Palmer and Dalton earning multiple Pro Bowl selections.

“Adam Henry and Ken Zampese are two really good coaches that I was fortunate to work with earlier in my career,” Jackson said. “They have successful track records, having coached and helped develop some really good football players. They will demand a lot of our players and challenge them to become their best.”

Zampese became Bengals coordinator when Jackson was hired by the Browns but lasted only 18 games. He was fired after the Bengals scored just nine points without an offensive touchdown in an 0-2 start to 2017.

The Bengals ranked 13th in yardage (356.9 per game) and 24th in points (20.3) in 2016.

Lee joined the Browns after working as quarterbacks coach for several NFL and college teams over the previous three decades.

With rookie DeShone Kizer and second-year guys Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan, the Browns entered and exited the season without a quarterback who’s won a game in the NFL. Kizer started 15 games and was last in the league with a 53.6 completion percentage, 22 interceptions and a 60.5 rating.

Wilson was in charge of the run game for two seasons. The Browns ranked 18th in the NFL this season with 107.1 rushing yards per game and were sixth with 4.46 yards per rush.

Isaiah Crowell didn’t get the opportunities he wanted — Jackson was the play caller — and slipped to 4.1 yards a carry after a career-high 4.8 in 2016. Duke Johnson was the team’s leading receiver with 74 catches for 693 yards and added 348 rushing yards. He led the team with seven touchdowns.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.


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