The Cleveland Browns brass had their press conference today with Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner facing a fired up press corp in Berea. The front office certainly had a strategy going in and for the most part, they did a good job executing it. Nevertheless, there are parts of what was said that I had different reactions to in how true they are both now and how true they were and are becoming.
Haslam came out and much of the reason Rob Chudzinski was fired was due to the fact that the team did not show signs of improvement towards the end of the season. They fell on the sword with the decision and put the entire onus on themselves and the pressure of finding the right guy moving forward.
I don’t believe the standings are why Chud was fired. They make a decision I believe they already had made an easier sell. I think this decision came down to a power struggle and difference in philosophies between Chud and the front office. I have no doubt that the standings matter for Haslam and he did not want to lose, but I think a 6-10 team was not going to save Chud either.
Haslam was willing to eat $10.5 million worth of Chud’s contract in addition to likely what are going to be the salaries of assistants because they did not believe Chud was the right fit. I think Chud did a fine job on the field. Considering the roster and many other factors, he was in a difficult spot, but the record provided an easy and obvious scapegoat.
In addressing the possible hires for the Browns, the front office came out and said that they were not interested in anyone they interviewed last year for the position.
I think this is true now. Reportedly, Bill O’Brien had a rough interviewing experience in Cleveland last year and many have suggested this was not realistic. I still think they tried to reach out to O’Brien and this likely suggests that if they did reach out to O’Brien, he said he was not interested. Reports are now suggesting O’Brien will be named the head coach of the Houston Texans within the next day.
The Browns had their chance at Ken Whisenhunt and did not pursue him, so it stands to reason they were not going to go after him again. They interviewed Ray Horton last year and have access to him currently, so he is out of the search. So, this rings true now. I doubt that was quite as true as late as yesterday.
The 2014 NFL Draft is critical and they have to make this work if they are going to do anything. It is the pivotal moment for all involved in the front office.
The Browns did everything they could to emphasize this point and I am still not sure they did it justice. There are critics saying that every offseason is critical and always overblown. This year is different. In 2013, everything they did seemed geared to 2014. They picked players that were more likely to have impacts on 2014 as well as adding 3 picks for the 2014 draft. For Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi, everything rides on this coaching hire and that draft.
The pressure on them, on this draft is enormous. They have the makings of a good defense that still needs help in a few areas, but this whole front office has been setting up for building an offense in 2014. That starts with the quarterback position and finding a franchise signal caller. They have a number of other areas to address, but the success or failure will almost entirely be focused on who they put at quarterback.
The Mike Lombardi sized elephant in the room was addressed. Haslam claimed that he had never thought about why Lombardi was never there for press conferences.
Come on. I am glad the question was asked, but extremely disappointed no one followed up on the issue. That was a missed opportunity.