Is there really a rift forming between the Browns coaching staff and front office?


Earlier today, Tony Grossi released his latest article at ESPN Cleveland on the Cleveland Browns discussing what he declared a “tug of war” for power between Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer.

Grossi pointed to the recent departure of director of player engagement Dr. Jamil Northcutt as all the evidence he needs to assume the coaching staff and front office are destined to be locked in a power struggle until owner Jimmy Haslem is forced to choose sides.

As an example of the “rift,” Grossi wrote that:

"On game days, Northcutt had an undefined role on the sideline. Sources have told ESPN Cleveland that Northcutt was a recipient of Farmer’s in-game texting, and that he relayed messages from Farmer to the coaches. Another source said that was absolutely false."

The release of this article has naturally caused something of a small uproar on social media and fan forums. This is much more likely a case of journalistic creativity on a slow news day than it is cause for any sort of panic. When it rains, it pours. I get it; it’s been raining in Cleveland for years. But look at the source of the story.

Related: Mike Pettine growing more comfortable in Cleveland

A Cleveland journalist who has been plying his trade in the city for more than 30 years, Grossi’s coverage of the Browns over that time has been unparalleled, as has his proclivity toward negative articles on the team that runs the city he was born in. To be fair, why shouldn’t he? The team hasn’t won much in his time covering them, and let’s face facts, hate sells a lot more than positive, calming articles, especially with today’s social media climate.

That brings us to the question of the hour: is the departure of the most recent director of player engagement the latest sign of doom and gloom in the Factory of Sadness? Short answer: probably not.

Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Northcutt was a player development coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs at the same time Farmer was with the Chiefs as a director of personnel. Northcutt was brought in by Farmer last season and in his time with the team appears to have done a mediocre job at best, so he was let go.

Remember back to last year? Pettine was hired before Farmer was, which is out of the ordinary to say the least, providing ample opportunities for the two not to get along. On the contrary, the two seem to share an old school, hard-nose style that has been working well together.

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This is a group of people who are still new at their jobs. A lot of the coaches were in their first year in their roles last season, while Farmer was in his first year as a general manager. There will be growing pains, as we learned with Farmer’s texting debacle that came to a head earlier this year.

Mistakes have been made, and those responsible for the mistakes have taken accountability for their actions. Some front office members clearly overstepped their boundaries last season. The issues have been addressed, and the working professionals have moved on.

From the outside looking in, Pettine and Farmer have as good a working relationship as one could expect between the two. The article that has lit up the fan sites today is more likely the result of a slow news week before training camps starts up, rather than the result of an actual rift forming among the Cleveland Browns leadership.

Do you think a rift is forming between coaches and the front office?

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