For decades now, the Cleveland Browns have been the laughingstock of the AFC North. Even in the past couple of years when they haven’t been finishing dead last in the division, they have been receiving the lion’s share of the derision.
So much of this has been tied to the manner in which, in one fashion or another, at one level or another, the franchise has conducted or presented itself. They allowed themselves to be portrayed as a Cinderella team in 2019, and it backfired spectacularly when they finished with a worse record (6-10) than they had the year before (7-8-1).
This disappointment resulted in only Jimmy Haslam making the decision to part ways with Freddie Kitchens, whom he had just hired the year before after he served a half-season as interim offensive coordinator. A short time later, general manager John Dorsey and the team ‘mutually agreed’ to part company.
Haslam spoke to the media yesterday to share his perspective on the changes made and those to come as they begin their search for not just a new head coach, but new general manager. Yesterday, they interviewed former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy and Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman for the head coaching job already.
He admitted that “the first two or three coaching searches” the team had undergone under his watch—try four or five, actually—“didn’t have process and discipline”, the obvious implication being that this time naturally will be different.
“I think patience and continuity are good as long as you think you have the right people in place”, he added. “We just did not feel like we had the right people in place to move forward like we would like to. Believe me, this kind of change is hard. It is not something we wanted to do. I think I started out by saying it is certainly not something we are proud of, but it is something we are determined to get right this time”.
I think it’s fair to say that any time a coaching change is made, those making the change are determined to ‘get it right’. I have no reason to believe that Kitchens wasn’t hired with the intention of ‘getting it right’. Saying as much doesn’t offer anything in the way of reassurances.
The Browns have a very talented but also generally young and immature pool of talent. Multiple people within the organization have spoken about their intention to put their focus on finding a head coach who is a “strong leader”. Even Jarvis Landry, one of their most high-profile players, said the same thing.
Will they succeed? History is not in their favor, but they only need to get it right once, and then get out of their own way. The question is, if they have the right person, can Haslam exercise the requisite patience to allow him to flourish? Patience with the wrong person is unwarranted, but you have to be able to identify the right one.