Over the course of recent days, we have talked a couple of times about the Pittsburgh Steelers and their organizational structure down to the scouting level, and the process through which they make decisions. Over the course of many years, it has become something of a fine-tuned machine in the nature in which it functions, even if one might not always agree with the ultimate product.
So it really shouldn’t be any surprise that the Cleveland Browns are not quite at that same level. In Pittsburgh, they have been owned by the same family for generations. Their general manager has been a consistent presence since 2000, their head coach since 2007. Their scouting department includes a collective of several decades of experiences working with the Steelers.
The Browns? Not so much. That is the price that you pay with frequent turnover at virtually every level sans ownership—and even that changed in recent years when one-time part-owner of the Steelers Jimmy Haslam and his wife bought the franchise.
Haslam is hopeful to have hit on the right combination this time around with his group heading into its second season of working together. Hue Jackson as head coach and vice president of football operations Sashi Brown, not to mention John DePodesta, are still feeling one another out as to how they want to go about things. Which is perhaps why we heard rumors of mixed opinions leading up to the draft.
But they do believe that they are getting there, and they view this recent draft process as a valuable experience on that journey. “We’re starting to understand each other better”, Jackson recently told reporters about his working relationship with the rest of the decision-makers.
“Sashi and his people are getting a better idea of what we as coaches are seeking”, he said, “and their process is starting to make more sense to me”. He also gave credit to the ownership for assuring a democratic atmosphere in which everybody is able to contribute their insights, “creating an environment where we can execute a plan without rushing things”.
“Just more time and building the relationships among the four of us and being able to work together and understand our team more and what we need” is how Brown described the improvements their working relationship has experienced.
They “have really a much better sense of Hue’s vision for what he wants the team to look like and feel like on the field, how his scheme plays out and how different traits and different players can fit into that”, he continued.
That sounds like progress to me, and I think this is an often overlooked aspect of the team-building project. Knowing who you are working with and what they are hoping to accomplish specifically, learning how to work together to reach mutually amicable decisions. These are things the Steelers have taken as a given capacity in recent years. This incarnation of the Browns organization is still in the infancy of that endeavor.