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Next (Or Only) Man Up: The Challenge of Coaching Cleveland

Once again the Cleveland Browns cleaned house after a disappointing season. General Manager Ray Farmer and H


Once again the Cleveland Browns cleaned house after a disappointing season. General Manager Ray Farmer and Head Coach Mike Pettine were fired after just 2 seasons in the job.   But that news really doesn’t surprise anyone any more. Since current owner Jimmy Haslam took over in August 2012 he has moved through high level staff faster than Darth Vader. He fired Pat Shurmer after that season, which was basically as soon as he could (Shurmer had taken over in 2011). He hired Rob Chudzinski and gave him one season before moving onto Pettine. In the front office he forcibly retired Mike Holmgren and tossed Mike Lombardi after one season despite him managing to get a first round pick from the Colts for the corpse of Trent Richardson.   And it’s not just Haslam who has been cutting down coaches after a handful of seasons. Under the Lerner’s the Browns gave Butch Davis 3 and a half years, Romeo Crennel 3 years and Eric Mangini just 2. And forget about General Managers. Since just before Romeo Crennel’s hiring in 2005 to today the Browns have gone through 5. FIVE! These facts alone should scare coaches and staff away from the Cleveland jobs.   Cleveland’s carousel of coaches is made to look even more ridiculous thanks to their steady and calm division rivals. The Steelers have had 3 head coaches since 1969 – and no, that isn’t a typo. Chuck Noll was hired in 1969 and retired in 1991. His replacement was Bill Cowher who also retired from the job and they hired Mike Tomlin, who has probably the second most secure coaching job in the NFL after Bill Belichick. Marvin Lewis – who hasn’t won a play-off game in his entire tenure but has had a stable and competitive team – has just completed his 13th regular season in charge of the Bengals. John Harbaugh took over in 2008 from Brian Billick who had spent 9 years at the helm. That kind of commitment to a coach, to a process and to an ideal is what  keeps those teams well above Cleveland. Ozzie Newsome isn’t going to react to this seasons terrible 5-11 by immediately firing Harbaugh and starting over. He and his staff will carefully evaluate what went wrong where and work on finding ways to fix it.   In a documentary about the 2014 New England Patriots, Bill Belichick said that it wasn’t really until 2003 that he was able to implement his full plans. That’s right, it took the best coach of recent NFL history until his 4th season to change the culture of the team and find the right blend of players and coaches to bring his vision to life. So how is a coach meant to turn around such a broken down franchise like the Cleveland Browns in the space of one or two seasons? The roster has a handful of stars in the likes of Joe Thomas, Joe Haden and Alex Mack with useful guys dotted across the roster but it lacks any kind of Quarterback or edge rusher, and forget about depth. Whichever unfortunate souls fill the vacant GM and head coach roles will have the 2nd overall pick at their disposal this year, but without any obviously NFL-ready quarterbacks they will have the tough choice of another year with Josh McCown or throwing their already poor job security into a long-shot prospect.   If I was Adam Gase, Teryl Austin, Matt Patricia or any other coordinator I would be ignoring calls from the Cleveland area for as long as possible. Why on earth would they want to put their reputations in the hands of Jimmy Haslam when it seems like conquering the AFC North within 2 years is the only way to keep your job? They are secure in their current jobs, performing well and should have multiple suitors. But for Jimmy Haslam it may well be that dreaded scenario 5 minutes before the nightclub closes, where the first person to say yes will do….


Toby Durant

A passionate and opinionated writer, I am currently the NFL editor for RealSport. However, I also contribute to F1, WWE, Football, and other sections of the site, and I have covered the NFL International Series for RealSport and previously contributed to SB Nation.

 

I also have 10 years playing and coaching experience in American football, starting at the University of Nottingham and including a stint as defensive coordinator at Oxford Brookes University. I may be a Patriots fan but all aspects of the sport interest me, from guard play to special teams.

Next (Or Only) Man Up: The Challenge of Coaching Cleveland

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