Cleveland Browns: How to fix this team in 2016


Jun 16, 2015; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam (left) and Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine during minicamp at the Cleveland Browns practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

A comprehensive plan to fix the Cleveland Browns in 2016.

I continue to get sucked into troll debates on Twitter where I offer an opinion or suggestion and the retort is always, “I am smarter than you and your idea is dumb.” I decided that instead of arguing with Troll-man, I would be proactive and offer my support and thoughts to the Browns owner, Jimmy Haslam. As a fan of the Browns, there is one glaring problem with the team… they have no idea who they are or what the identity of the team should be. With that said, if I were in your shoes Mr. Haslam, this would be my plan as of the Monday after the final game of the 2015 season.

First things first, I need to create a stabilized force somewhere on this team. The easiest place to start would be the offensive line since I have a Hall of Famer on it. In order to do that, I need to retain Alex Mack, and that won’t be easy. I mean, really… why would he stay? This is what I would say to him:

Thanks for stopping in the office Alex. I wanted to let you know that I appreciate your long time service to the Browns and the communities around Cleveland. I have spoken with my staff this morning and we are going to re-purpose the philosophy of our offense and defense — hell the entire organization really. What I mean to say is that we will begin by creating an identity for our franchise. In my mind, it all starts with the offensive line, and that is why it is important to me that we are able to keep you happy here in Cleveland.

We are the Browns. We have a legacy of winning and a culture that needs to be built on a foundation of understanding and aggression.

As you know, in the past we have spoken loudly about our feelings toward both quarterbacks and receivers as being highly over-rated. In fact, we learned from the past two seasons how wrong we were. Let me tell you how I plan to fix this problem. First, we have made contact with the Detroit Lions about acquiring Calvin Johnson. We are willing to part with almost anything except this spring’s first round pick and select core players. Second, we will be selecting the best available, big-time, strong, fast receiver that can be had with that first round pick.

Doing this moves Travis Benjamin into our third receiver slot, which makes him a single coverage nightmare for the opponent’s nickelback or possibly safety. Either way, Calvin Johnson forces single coverage on everyone else, including our tight ends. It also forces the strong safety out of the box, making run blocking easier for you guys on the line.

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Our new offensive philosophy will be to include a lot of motion and shifting of our personnel, looking for the best match-ups as well as pocket movement to put Johnny Manziel into positions of strength, which is throwing on the run and extending the play a few extra seconds. We will also no longer be running six-yard patterns on 3rd and 8.

I have spoken with both Coach Pettine as well as his offensive coaches and they agreed to buy in on this philosophy shift… else be replaced. It is my focus this year that we will define our identity and acquire personnel to both mesh with it and force it down the throats of our opponents. This whole being reactive of guys we bring in and what the other team does all of the time stops… now.

Defensively, we have released Coach O’Neil and plan to bring in a man with experience as an aggressive-minded defender. I want the Browns to be known for blitzing to pressure the quarterback and blitzing to break up the run. I want corners defending for as short a period of time as possible and safeties collapsing and punishing receivers after they make a catch. My defense will be known as a fast and physical. We will punish quarterbacks and we will be strong against the run.

I will not sit by and watch one more opposing quarterback just stand there in the pocket and pick apart my secondary. Never again. Really, I would love to lure a man like Mike Singletary to our team to run our defense and instill an aggressive nature to our existing defense.

In the front office, I made a few more changes of note. I have also decided to part ways with Mr. Farmer and have made two front office hires. First I want to bring Bernie Kosar on as General Manager and surround him with experienced men to support him. It is important to me that we have an identity for the franchise that will resonate with the fan base as well as be fruitful in the long-term. Bernie has an amazing mind for the game and an unquenchable desire to improve the Cleveland Browns. I think he is ready for the chance and he has promised a turnaround in two years, where everyone else offers me a five-year plan.

I have also brought on Mr. Bill Polian to oversee the entire operation of the franchise. I feel that we have a lack of experience in most positions in the front office and with Mr. Polian with us, we can all learn and gain wisdom from him. I have asked Mr. Kosar and everyone else on the staff to spend as much time learning from Mr. Polian as possible as his time with us will be short.

So as you can see Alex, It took me a couple of seasons to get a firm understanding of where the problems exist and with the experience that came from it, I am setting into motion several key changes that will expedite the maturation and development of this franchise. Believe me, the problems begin at the front office and cascade from there. But I believe that the biggest problem that we have had in the past is that there were people in positions to make decisions who have not had experience making decisions. With the addition of Mr. Polian to mentor everyone in my office and Mr. Kosar’s burning desire to make the necessary changes and provide our team with identity and talent, I believe that we are on the right track.”

After I finished my meeting with Alex, I would begin working on another issue that I need to address: leadership on the defense. I need the Browns to be identified by a defensive leader on the field. A field general who is simply not going to tolerate stupid mental penalties. I need a man who will grab a big tackle by his facemask and bark at him to get his head in the game. A man who the opposing quarterback needs to keep track of… and we simply don’t have that guy right now. To put a name to a face, I need a Ray Lewis, a Mike Singletary… a man who will meet your running back in the hole on first down and a man who will flatten your tight end on third down. He needs to be a beast, and we will be looking for him. No offense to Karlos Dansby, he is just getting a little old.

Another major point of emphasis for my front office is that we need to hit on our draft picks. We need to be projecting our team needs out three years and drafting accordingly. Drafting for immediate needs only puts our draft picks in positions of failure. A draft pick should be expected to be on the field within 2-3 years — not this year. We need to develop them, get them in the weight room, teach them the NFL life. The immediate needs should be addressed by veterans, via trade and free agency. When the vets begin to get older, then the younger drafted players can begin to fill the voids once they are ready.

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We also need to convey this message to the media and our fans. We need to be planning for the future.

Lastly, I want to focus most of our drafting on the major college conferences. That is not to say that we avoid smaller school kids. That is to say that I want to influx our team with players who have experienced the SEC, Big 10, PAC-10, etc. schedules and even playoff games. No more drafting quarterbacks who have never been in a huddle or used a playbook or audibled.

We are the Browns. We have a legacy of winning and a culture that needs to be built on a foundation of understanding and aggression. We will pound teams on defense. We will not satisfied with a 14-point lead. We will have smart quarterbacks with feared receivers and running backs. Our offensive line will dominate you for 60 minutes every Sunday. We will not beat ourselves with penalties and turnovers.

I also want to make one additional change. This fall we will be unveiling the brand new statue of Paul Brown. Without him, we would not understand what it means to play like a Brown.