Cleveland Browns need to let grown-ups conduct the coaching search
The Cleveland Browns are embarking on yet another head coaching search. So it’s important to remember that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing in the same way and expecting a different result.
To nobody’s surprise, the Cleveland Browns announced that Freddie Kitchens was relieved of his head coaching duties on Sunday night. The team plane had barely touched down before Kitchens was summoned to owner Jimmy Haslam’s office. The meeting was, by all accounts, brief and to the point.
And so here we are again. But to be honest, I don’t care about the X’s and O’s of the next coach. After the Kitchens debacle, I believe any coach the Cleveland Browns bring in will be qualified to coach football. But the blocking and tackling that the Cleveland Browns need to focus on are people skills.
When Haslam purchased the team, he uttered a refrain that has become a punchline. He wants everyone to be on the same page. He wants consensus. He wants clearly defined organizational charts where everyone stays in their lane. But this is insanity. It’s chasing at windmills.
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There are no right models for building an organization, there are only right people. It’s not about who reports to whom but to create an organization where the only title that matters is Super Bowl champion.
The essence of leadership is being able to engage in healthy debate. It’s about creating an environment where differing viewpoints can be heard. But once the opinions are heard it means setting aside egos and arriving at the best solution.
If the recent rumors of a rift between the analytics camp and the traditional camp are to be believed, then this is not happening. And that means the Cleveland Browns are probably heading down the path of insanity of NFL coaching searches. Just do the opposite of what you just did. And when that doesn’t work, do the opposite again. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.
It’s time to stop the insanity.
Don’t blame the fans for the expectations you set. Yes, many of us believed in Kitchens. But like the child that trusts their parents, we thought you were the grown-ups. We figured you had to know what you were doing. And we winked at the skeptics because we were going to wake the sleeping giant.
But this time around, we think that all of you are as clueless as a Freddie Kitchens half-back pass. You went “all in” on analytics, but then – and now – you ignore analytics when they don’t tell you what you want to hear.
You talk about drafting and acquiring “real football players”. In doing so you frequently ignore character, yet are shocked when the culture never changes.
Just stop the madness. It’s not either analytics or traditional football savvy. It’s 2020. Both are essential. Sometimes the numbers will win and sometimes they won’t. But if the two sides can’t set their sizable egos aside, then this is just an exercise in insanity.
This time it has to be different. This time you have to be the grown-ups.
In the Haslam era the Browns have hired not one, but four head coaches. And despite calls for consensus, the dysfunction is only getting worse. It may not be a general manager calling the sidelines, but it’s a head coach who wasn’t prepared to call a game. This is not about Freddie Kitchens not being ready. It’s about why he was hired in the first place.
The Haslam’s are in no danger of “losing” the fans. We complain and grumble. But this is a fan base that knows the pain of losing a franchise. And that pain, for better or worse, makes us appreciate a fall Sunday perhaps more than we should.
We love the Browns. We always will. But let’s be clear. We lack confidence that you know what you’re doing. You have become the children. So we will trust, but verify. The Cleveland Browns are now on the clock.