A couple of disclaimers:
First. This represents one fans view of the 2015 Cleveland Browns. My observations come from watching them for decades and my own experiences working in bureaucratic organizations.
Second. None of this is any criticism of fans decisions to give up on them. After 50 years of failure including 15 years of futility and foolishness it is hard to understand that they have any fans left. They are certainly in danger of losing a generation.
The easiest way to understand the last 15 years is that they are the results of bad decisions compounded by bad luck. Keep this in mind as we discuss the current situation.
To understand any organization you must start at the top. For the Browns that means owner J Haslem. The job of the head of an organization is to do the following:
- Set the organizational culture, structure and goals.
- Hire the right people and support them
- DO NOT INTERFERE
- After allowing enough time for 1&2 make adjustments as needed.
One of the problems new owners often have is that being rich guys with huge egos they think what made them successful in business will make them successful in the NFL. Haslem is in the process of finding that out. He is also finding out his fellow owners may be partners but they are also competitors. Any advice must be taken with a grain of salt. One good sign is recent statements from Haslem seem to indicate he is realizing his time with the Steelers did not prepare him as much as he thought.
Judging him on the four musts:
- Set the organizational culture, etc.: Incomplete
- The structure of having all the key football people report directly to him can be problematic. It can create unhealthy competition and division. It can work but depends on the people working well together. It is too soon to know.
- Hire the right people and support them: Incomplete
- I am optimistic that he may have found a good coach and GM. The coaches strengths are apparent. It will be interesting to see how he handles the second year and having more involvement in the offense. A lot of people want the head of the GM I am not one of them. You need at least 3 drafts to judge if he can evaluate talent. As for textgate, it certainly reveals bad judgement but not a fatal flaw unless he is incapable of learning from it. There is also the unanswered question of did anyone else know about this. Bottom line this is also an incomplete
- DO NOT INTERFERE: Failure
- Many examples the most obvious, one being J Manziel.
- Allow enough time for 1 & 2, make adjustments as needed: Success
- The best thing he has done this year is keep his leadership team together. People forget how long it took the Steelers to set up the organization they now have in place.
One success, one failure, two incompletes
Bottom line I feel it is too early to give up on this organization. So if the organization is still in development what is the biggest problem facing the Browns?
Look at the teams in last year’s playoffs and the answer is obvious. The lack of a good to great QB. With the rule changes to encourage scoring and reduce injuries, QB has evolved into the most important position in sports. If Andrew Luck was their QB last year, the Browns would have made the playoffs. Nothing is more important for this organization then finding their QB of the future.
What about Manziel? We all know that was a huge mistake. One way to make it a even worse mistake is to let it paralyze the organization out of fear of repeating the mistake. The Browns actually need two QBs. A short term veteran and a young one the entire organization can get behind, develop and support for the future.
That being the case and the fact they have two number one draft picks you can expect them to be linked to rumors around the top QBs in this draft. At this point I do not have enough information to have an opinion on whom they should pick and what they should pay to get him. Getting him is the number one priority of the team.
In summary the Browns definitely have problems. Many of them they helped to cause. There are also some early signs of them trying to do the right thing. I think this is the wrong time to give up on them. With a little luck, something they have not had in a long time, they can still turn things around.
Sometimes even a bad movie can have a good ending…