INDIANAPOLIS – In eight seasons in Cleveland, D’Qwell Jackson saw his teams produce a 41-87 record that included one winning year (2007) and no playoff berths.
In geographic proximity was Indianapolis, where the Colts went 85-43 with one world championship, two Super Bowl appearances and but one non-winning season in that same span.
When the time came, Jackson relocated (click here for Jackson highlight).
“If you haven’t paid attention to this organization, then you’re not a fan of any sport,” said Jackson Thursday after joining the Colts. “What this organization has been able to accomplish the last decade, more than that, I’ve watched them.
“I’ve been a huge fan of what they’ve accomplished the last two years after having a reign of success for 14 years, having a down year one year and bouncing back and losing your coach and having him come back. It’s definitely a testament to what they do in this building. I’m more than excited to be a part of (it).”
Jackson spent eight seasons trying to help elevate Cleveland back to the prominence a storied franchise once enjoyed.
He started 96 of a possible 128 games, had nearly 900 tackles, brought down ballcarriers more than 100 times in six different seasons and paid every possible price to try to earn victories.
So respected was Jackson that long-time writer Terry Pluto, perhaps the foremost observer of Cleveland sports, said, “Jackson was one of the true pros to ever play for the Browns for how he always remained positive despite all the negative circumstances.”
Jackson (click here to listen to interview) toiled under five coordinators and four head coaches, this past season being under Rob Chudzinski.
Chudzinski departed Cleveland about two months before Jackson. When no longer a Brown, Jackson knew where to turn.
“Once I was allowed to speak to teams, he was one of the first calls that I personally made,” said Jackson of Chudzinski. “He’s a big part of me being here today.
“I thought highly of him last year when he was my head coach. He hadn’t been here for a long time, but I trusted his judgment. We had a great run in Cleveland. It’s unfortunate it didn’t work out, and here we are today. I’m excited to get going.”
Chudzinski was hired by Colts coach Chuck Pagano on February 8 as a special staff assistant, and the two date back to Chudzinski’s collegiate playing years at Miami.
Pagano spoke in January 2012 of stressing relationships with players and building a family culture. Jackson said Chudzinski was attempting the same approach last year in Cleveland before being discharged after the finale.
The nature Jackson hoped would take root in Cleveland was something he noticed immediately with Pagano.
“Having a sit-down dinner with him, I knew right away. He was a good guy,” said Jackson of Pagano. “We barely talked football. We just spoke, had dinner and we just talked about random things.
“Any time you can do that, you know you’re dealing with a good guy. He’s been through a lot in his life, obviously. The guy is high on life, and I want to be around people like that.”
Jackson played inside in both 3-4 and 4-3 sets in Cleveland. He is the first 2014 off-season component added by Indianapolis.
Jackson said a system fit was a priority in choosing a team.
“That was something that definitely weighed heavily on my mind, how I would fit,” said Jackson. “My time in Cleveland was a special time. I was fortunate enough to play in a 4-3, a 3-4, and last year was a 3-4.
“To me, it’s football. It comes down to guys willing to prepare as well as they do, and willing to go out and win a ton of games, and have one common goal in mind, and that’s winning a championship.”
From the ‘rush’ position last year, Mathis had a franchise seasonal-record 19.5 sacks, the league’s highest total. Freeman has opened 32 straight games at the ‘will’ position, while Walden played at ‘sam.’
“He is a team-first guy that has been a very consistent producer,” said Ryan Grigson. “The tempo, energy and determination he plays with are right up there with the best in this league.
“He brings a welcomed element of experience and natural leadership. We are excited to add him to the strong nucleus of linebackers we have.”
COLTS NOTES – The Colts released center Samson Satele, who opened 24-of-32 possible games from 2012-13. Satele started 11 games in 2013 and opened the club’s three playoff games over the last two years.
Johnson joined the club from San Francisco last year for a seventh-round pick in 2015. He played in 12 games and had two defensive tackles.
Gordy appeared in 12 games in 2013 and had nine tackles, three passes defensed, one interception and four special teams stops.
Reitz played in 14 games, making three starts in 2013. Reitz has been with the Colts since 2010.