Even skeptical Cleveland Browns fans want to believe this season will be different than years past, but the fear of internal discord still lingers overhead
We’ve all heard it before — this year, things will be different for the Cleveland Browns. That’s often followed up with yet another season full of disappointment and heartache.
Enter the 2019 version of the team, which really does feel different. This time, there’s a quarterback in Baker Mayfield as well as a plethora of playmakers on both sides of the ball. Nothing can stop the progress this time, right? They have to be better now, don’t they?
The easy answer is yes. Better football players provide better results. Period. Even the most skeptical Cleveland fan has to admit this team has more talent on this team than they have had since returning to the NFL in 1999, but they also understand there’s one thing that can derail even the best of rosters — the dreaded ‘internal discord’.
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And no one in the NFL has had more of this surrounding them than current team owner Jimmy Haslam. With all the failure throughout the years, Haslam has been front and center and the latest rendition of ‘How the Browns Implode’ had his fingerprints all over it.
Haslam made a brilliant hire when he brought in John Dorsey as the general manager, but then he forced a coach with a 1-31 record in Hue Jackson on Dorsey. That led to what Haslam called ‘internal discord’ as well as the eventual — and long-overdue — firing of Jackson.
With Haslam constantly making such gaffes, it’s hard to blame people for asking if these issues inside the building are really a thing of the past.
And yes, some are asking this. In fact, a fan named Josh Hooper wrote in to Cleveland.com to ask Terry Pluto about the possibility of this team sinking their own ship, and Pluto addressed it in his “Hey Terry” column:
"“That’s a fair question, given all the high expectations looming over the Browns. And Berea has been the NFL’s capital of “internal discord,” as Owner Jimmy Haslam called it when firing Hue Jackson last season. The difference is GM John Dorsey is a strong leader. Freddie Kitchens is his hand-picked coach and this is not a football shotgun marriage. They are in this together, and that should help when some losses and challenges come along.” — Pluto, Cleveland.com"
Pluto hits the nail on the head with his answer. The issues inside the building last year came from Haslam forcing Dorsey and Jackson together. As much as those two tried to convince us all that they were on the same page, they simply weren’t.
Dorsey was all about football and getting winning players. He doesn’t care about popularity contests or changing his shirt. He just wants to win.
Jackson, on the other hand, just wants people to think he’s amazing. He wants you to know that every failure in his life is someone else’s fault and that he’s done as good of a job as any human being could with the atrocious hand he was dealt.
A pathological blame-shifter, Jackson was overly concerned with perception. That ended up leading to his demise as he wouldn’t listen to input from assistant coaches and probably did the same with his GM.
The Kitchens and Dorsey pairing is a different dynamic than the forced pairing of Hue and Dorsey. This time, it’s an actual partnership where they each have the same goal. The new head coach is Dorsey’s guy and because of that, these two will work together. And thankfully, it seems as though Haslam is backing off and letting Dorsey handle things ‚— which was evidenced by him turning over the coaching search to the general manager.
As long as he keeps allowing Dorsey to steer the ship, there should be no concerns about the dreaded ‘internal discord’ rearing its ugly head.