The Cleveland Browns have created a situation where Ray Farmer is the general manager, Alec Scheiner as president and Mike Pettine is the head coach. The next negative opinion from an informed source on either one will be the first, which does not guarantee their success, but does at least suggest the Browns have an opportunity to succeed. Fans and media are largely happy with the end result and if the Browns started here from the beginning, Jimmy Haslam III would have looked the part of a savvy owner. The negative perception of Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi from the fan base was so thick and entrenched that fans and some in the media are not only giving Haslam a pass for his mistakes, but actually going a step further and giving him credit.
The fact Haslam is a rookie owner does not mean he is allowed to be bad with decisions. The fact there are fans who are so understanding of this situation is odd, considering that many are the same irrational fans who were enraged that the Browns were not immediately much better with Joe Banner, Mike Lombardi and Rob Chudzinski. A long suffering fan base was all of a sudden not so suffering and even patient as of yesterday. Ignorance was indeed an excuse for the billionaire, possibly facing indictment for his dealings with Pilot Flying J, trying to get his bearings. The timing of the decision was certainly bizarre, which has not helped the perception. In the end, it is only unusual as far as when it happened, but it is not terribly important in the long run.
Had Haslam done this to people within the organization that people liked, such as if he had fired Ray Farmer yesterday, the perception would probably be far different. Instead of a decisive owner seeing a problem and eliminating it, he would be an irrational one that makes decisions on emotion rather than one on prudent planning. The fact is that both of these possibilities could be true. Haslam could have made the right move here and be an irrational owner clouded by emotion.
Ultimately, the moves Haslam makes from here will determine how these moves are defined. If he goes out and blows this group up in a year, he is in the Jerry Jones, Stephen Ross and Daniel Snyder conversation. If this turns out to be the right set of moves that turns the team around, he is a decisive owner who saw a problem and fixed it.
As much as all of this stuff matters (and it does), the more important decision is still left to be made. The quarterback of this team for the 2014 season and beyond will paint this picture of success or failure more than anything else that this team does. This draft with the picks they have and the decision to be made as to which quarterback they draft (or the unlikely scenario where they bet on Brian Hoyer), the organization is certainly important, but the quarterback will have a huge impact on the success or failure of Farmer and Pettine.
The picture in Berea as to what is happening and who is doing what is clearer, but they still have to make the right decision and that is not lost on anyone. Farmer is not getting any excuses any more than Haslam is for this situation and he is prepared and equipped to run the draft in May, but it has to be the right set of moves. Everything Banner and Lombardi did last year (for all of the criticisms being lobbied at them) have given Farmer the tools he can use to succeed including an extra first, third, and fourth round pick. Farmer has the chance to make Haslam right; he has to do it and Haslam has to let him.