Shortly after the Pittsburgh Steelers closed out their season with a disheartening overtime victory, the Cleveland Browns ownership sent out an open letter to the organization’s supporters, apologizing to them for the season that they had, during which they lost their first 14 games, gave up by far the most sacks, and ended up 1-15, the worst season in franchise history.
In that same letter, the ownership reinforced its believe that they do have the right people in place at the top of the food chain to help turn the team around into a contender, starting with Head Coach Hue Jackson, who was just brought in last season.
Jackson will be back for another year. But he will be working with a much different coaching staff, as the Browns have been busy with their offseason already cleaning house, starting with the decision to replace former Steelers defensive backs coach Ray Horton as defensive coordinator, bringing in Gregg Williams, who is best known for the Bountygate scandal.
He was not the only one to go, however, as it was just announced yesterday that several other members of the coaching staff—which was pretty extensive by league standards—were relieved of their duties, including four members of their defensive coaching staff.
Gone are defensive backs coach Louie Cioffi, inside linebackers coach Johnny Holland, outside linebackers coach Ryan Slowik, and assistant defensive backs coach Cannon Matthews. In addition to the gutting of the defensive coaching staff, offensive line coach Hal Hunter was also let go.
Currently, the Browns have no coaches on their staff to coach the outside linebackers or the defensive backs, but they did leave the defensive line staff intact. They also have an assistant offensive line coach still on board. None of the above mentioned coaches have been replaced as of yet.
Cioffi has a long history in the NFL, climbing the ranks of the Bengals organization for over a decade. He now has the distinction of being fired by the Browns twice, as he was also a part of the 2013 regime that was wiped out. He joins Ray Horton in that department.
Holland has an extensive history as a linebackers coach, while Slowik had been a longtime assistant. Both of them were in their first season with the organization. So, too, were Matthews and Hunter. All of them now looking for work after a 1-15 season.
While the ownership may have thrown their support behind those on the top of the food chain, they were less than willing to extend the rest of the coaching staff the same sort of leniency. All six coaches who have been fired so far were hired this year, with only two of them having previously worked with the organization at all.
They may believe they have the right people at the top, but they clearly felt differently about those as the bottom. We shall see where things go from here, particularly now with Williams at the helm for the defense.