The Cleveland Browns, and the NFL, are in the midst of their dead period. Most of the news that will come out in the next few weeks will be related to Johnny Manziel‘s phone of choice, contract negotiations and reviews and previews for the up coming Training Camp. In the sports world this is often the most difficult few weeks, the NBA season is over, NFL Off-season is on a break, NHL season is over and MLB is in the middle of their very long season. The NBA Draft and free agency pick things back up quickly and lead us into the Summer Classic in MLB, NFL Training Camps and then the NFL season.
So today we ask the very simple question: Who is the Most Important Member of the Cleveland Browns in 2014? We will give you a few options then allow you to tell us your thoughts. Important is such a vague term that is hard to grasp hold of, similar to excellence. Yet one thing we know: You know it when you see it. So lets take a look starting at the top and working our way down:
Jimmy Haslam – Owner
The owner of any team is seen as mostly important during the draft and free agency where they may try to influence who is brought in and how much is spent. Besides that owners tend to stay by the side during the season and have very little impact on the team. Haslam is no normal owner and could have a much bigger impact in 2014. He is still under suspicion and investigation by the FBI and until that gets resolved it is a shadow over the team. If he gets prosecuted during the season the media will be required to ask every Browns person something about Haslam instead of other more relevant things. Someone else would also have to take over the team’s ownership and steer the ship in the right direction. The way Haslam setup the flow chart, where Ray Farmer and Mike Pettine report directly to him, this could be a huge deal. Is that enough to make Haslam the most important member of the Browns?
Ray Farmer – GM
Much of Farmer’s work is complete. He executed free agency and the draft deftly and has remade the Browns team without gutting the roster of the talented players from the previous regime. Farmer now has to make roster decisions to get the roster down to 53 men while preparing to make decisions about other players that are cut from other teams. Does he value the players he knows more then the players on other teams? Does he try to infuse more veterans to a young roster, especially at the wide receiver position? Does he make a move to trade for a player or two who become available? While not many trades happen in the NFL Farmer also has to prepare for the trade deadline and for next years draft where again the Browns have 2 first round picks. Does all that make him the most important in 2014?
Mike Pettine – Head Coach
Pettine has an impact on the day to day operations of the team. He decides the direction of the team and makes decisions on game day including roster decisions. In his first role as a head coach in the NFL can Pettine keep everything in order as to make the best use of his time and talents as he learns to lead? Will he get too involved in the defense and not give enough attention to the offense? Will he trust his staff or will he micromanage? Will he be a risk taker or play conservative? All of these issues could make him important, but most important?
Kyle Shanahan – OC
We could list both the OC and DC but will only list Shanahan as Pettine will have a huge role in the defense. Shanahan has a unique situation with 2 QBs battling for a spot, a few running backs that could get a bulk of the carries and a interesting, limited receiving core. Can Shanahan improve on his reputation over the last couple of years and make Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel a star? Can he make up for the lack of Josh Gordon with his creative schemes? Will he finally return a solid running game to Cleveland?
Johnny Manziel or Brian Hoyer – THE Starting QB
Whoever wins the starting job is who we are listing here. With a limited receiving core, a good to great offensive line and a stable of running backs this person could just be a game manager. Yet will they also make the right decision on 3rd downs and in the redzone? Can they make all the throws needed for Shanahan to open up the playbook and fully commit to the QB? Or will the expected play out with Hoyer starting and Manziel taking over sometime in the year and neither having a huge impact? The QB position is generally the most important on the field but for the Browns in 2014 is it the most important in the organization?
Ben Tate – RB
Tate comes over from the Houston Texans to take over the starting RB job. Tate has a history of injuries, and was banged up at the end of mini camp. The Browns plan to run the ball, a lot, and if Tate gets the majority of the carries can he make the Browns fans forget the sorry excuse for a running game from last year? Can he fend off Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell? Will he stay healthy all year? Running backs aren’t the most glamorous position but on a run first team they are vital. Will Tate be the best , most important for the Browns this up coming year?
Joe Haden – CB
Haden is the lock down corner for the Browns. The team drafted Justin Gilbert, whose development could be huge for the team, but Haden sets the tone of the secondary. Now that he has signed his big contract we know Haden will be here for years to come. Will he rest on his fat paycheck or keep the edge that has helped him the last few years? Will he feel the pressure of the contract and try too hard and get burnt on double moves again this year? Pettine’s defense puts CBs on an island, will how Haden fairs define the Browns season?
Donte Whitner – Safety
The Browns let T.J. Ward leave so they could bring in a safety that could cover more but also bring the hits. Whitner was the guy they targeted and brought back to Ohio. Does he have the same coverage skills that the Browns expect from that position? Will the pressure of playing at home impact his focus? Will all the big hits cause too many flags and/or suspensions? Does his experience, position and pay make him the most important Brown?
Pick one and leave in the comments section or give your own write in vote.