Aug 8, 2015; Canton, OH, USA; Ron Wolf (right) poses with bust and son and presenter Eliot Wolf during the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
With more change possibly coming to the Cleveland Browns, the team has been linked to Green Bay’s Eliot Wolf as a GM candidate.
With just one week left in the 2015 NFL season, the Cleveland Browns may be preparing to do the one thing they have consistently done more than any other team.
They may be set to blow it up and start over once again.
No one other than team owner Jimmy Haslam really knows what will occur once another lost season comes to a close at FirstEnergy Stadium against the Pittsburgh Steelers. And Haslam himself may not even know what he wants to do or should do.
If Haslam decides to make a move, one person that could be in trouble is general manager Ray Farmer and a possible replacement could be Eliot Wolf, who is the currently director of player personnel with the Green Bay Packers.
Jason La Canfora at CBS Sports reported on Sunday that he has “continued to hear a strong buzz about (Wolf) in Cleveland, among other places (many believe Wolf’s father, Ron, will end up consulting for Haslam on the Browns’ forthcoming overhaul.)”
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According to his bio on the Packers’ website, Wolf is just completing his first year as Green Bay’s director of player personnel, but is in his 12th season with the Packers. Before being promoted to his current position, he was Green Bay’s director of pro personnel for three seasons.
Wolf is the currently the second youngest player personnel director in the league, and his primary duties include both college and pro player evaluation. He is also responsible for scouting opponents, evaluating potential free-agent signees and recommending player tryouts.
Wolf is also the son of former Green Bay general manager Ron Wolf who, as La Canfora pointed out, has been mentioned as a possible consultant if Haslam decides to start over once again.
While the Browns have been down this road before with hiring the son of someone accomplished (see the Pat Shurmur era), Wolf sounds like someone who has made his own mark in the game, rather than just carrying a familiar name. (Although Phil Savage was once a hot young candidate who allegedly knew how to evaluate talent.)
No matter what Haslam decides to do one thing is clear: he needs to once and for all set up a firm reporting structure and make it clear to everyone that they will not overstep their bounds under any circumstances.
It is a point that Albert Breer at NFL.com emphasized in a column on Sunday after speaking with the general manager of an NFC team, who said that:
"“The coach and GM have to share a vision. And once you start that relationship, you have to have clearly defined roles. If it’s that [the coach] is coaching and I’m bringing [players] in, once I start to veer and step over that line, everything becomes blurred and dysfunction follows."
"“You have to involve your coaches, you have to hear them and make them a part of the process. And the coaches have to be clear with you. Everyone has to check their ego at the door. Now, if the GM and coach don’t trust each other, it really is amazing how something so simple can start going backwards because of egos.”"
Breer also quoted a different NFC general manager as saying:
"“It’s paramount that the relationship is amicable and respectful and communicative and split down the middle. You really have to have an understanding of and respect for each other’s roles, and they have to be well-defined, so there’s no tripping up. And you have to understand the coach will be involved in personnel and evaluations, and the coach has to be direct about what they need. It’s huge.”"
Both of those general managers were talking about how the situation fell apart with the San Francisco 49ers, but could just have easily been talking about the Browns, where it seems as if the business side has too much influence on the football side, and things don’t appear to be working between Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine. (Hopefully someone at team headquarters had the initiative to print out Breer’s column and leave it on Haslam’s desk this morning.)
The reality is that Haslam can continue to make all the changes he wants, but until he takes real control of the reporting structure within team headquarters the Browns are just going to continue on the road to nowhere.