CLEVELAND (AP) – Hue Jackson didn’t have time to sleep or bemoan the Bengals’ playoff debacle.
Just hours after Cincinnati lost a heartbreaker to Pittsburgh in a wild AFC wild-card game – and after meeting with the San Francisco 49ers about becoming their next coach – Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator interviewed for the Browns’ coaching vacancy.
Jackson was the second candidate to meet Sunday with the Browns, who also interviewed Carolina defensive coordinator Sean McDermott.
The Browns have interviewed seven candidates, concluding the first week of their search without a front-runner to replace Mike Pettine, who was fired shortly after a loss to Pittsburgh in the season finale.
Jackson had his season ended by the Steelers as well. The Bengals committed two costly personal fouls in the closing minute Saturday night, losing 18-16 to the Steelers in a game filled with trash talk and tempers.
The 50-year-old barely slept before meeting with the 49ers in the morning and the Browns in the afternoon at the Bengals’ team headquarters.
Jackson’s familiarity with the AFC North as well as his background as a head coach in Oakland – he went 8-8 in 2011 – made him an attractive candidate to the Browns. But it’s also why the 49ers are after him and could see him return to the Bay Area.
Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam are leading the search committee, which includes newly appointed vice president of football operations Sashi Brown, strategy director Paul DePodesta and Jed Hughes of Korn-Ferry, an executive consulting firm.
It’s not known if the Browns have offered their job to any of the candidates they’ve spoken with. Haslam would not put a timetable on the search, saying it could last two weeks or two months.
Cleveland scratched one candidate off its list Saturday, when Adam Gase, the first coach to meet with the Browns, signed with Miami. None of the candidates still in the playoffs can negotiate with the Browns until their seasons end.
Like Jackson, McDermott is a hot commodity. The 41-year-old has drawn interest from other teams because of his success with the Panthers, who went 15-1 in the regular season and had a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs. McDermott met with Tampa Bay on Saturday and may still interview with Philadelphia.
The Panthers led the league with 24 interceptions and 39 takeaways this season under McDermott, who joined the Panthers’ staff in 2011. His defenses have finished in the top 10 in each of the past four seasons. He has also worked as an assistant with the Eagles.
The Browns have also interviewed Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, Jacksonville assistant and former Buffalo coach Doug Marrone, Dallas defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson and New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.