With another season in the books talk of organizational dysfunction, team executives texting negative comments to others on staff and changes within the coaching staff continue to lead the yearly post-season process in Cleveland.
The state of the Cleveland Browns organization is yet again in a precarious place.
Instability and questionable leadership at the organization's highest level reign supreme. To date, team owner Jimmy Haslam has failed miserably. Upon his arrival in Cleveland, Haslam spoke of continuity stemming from his experience as a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, as well as citing his extremely profitable, much scrutinized trucking business.
Much like exposed indiscretions within his other business, Haslam's leadership or failure to recognize issue at the top of this organization is troubling. There is nothing within the Browns portion of Haslam's portfolio that proves he practices stability or patience as a manager.
Whether Haslam is instructing or enabling people of power and influence within the football organization is an unanswered question. But, this aspect exists within the Browns organization. We do see people involving themselves in areas of operations that are not their supposed expertise.
Team president Alec Scheiner and Haslam have watched film with head coach Mike Pettine. Gaining knowledge and/or insight isn't necessarily problematic, but when the process moves from perception to reality, issues ensue. If members of the Browns front office, such as Scheiner and general manager Ray Farmer, are influencing when, how and why players play, that is an issue.
The issue compounds when the front office and coaching staff have differences of opinion, which was the case with rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Pettine told Farmer that Manziel wasn’t ready to take the reins. The rookie quarterback too often would improvise as the scout team quarterback. Manziel’s decisions were inconsistent and he wasn’t viewed as studious.
Pettine and others within the staff and locker room lacked confidence in Manziel’s ability to execute what a game-plan entailed.
Scheiner and Farmer wanted to see Manziel while Pettine remained reluctant and refused to play the rookie for weeks following the initial push from the front office. In what was a very good relationship from the onset, the general manager and head coach weren't on the same page and nearing a place they were getting close to be at odds.
Play-calling and player utilization became a growing concern, especially after the return of wide receiver Josh Gordon from suspension.
Haslam, a major influence in the selection of Manziel, did nothing to slow the sentiment of his front office. Let's remember, Haslam was a proponent of the rookie quarterback. With the team losing games and the offense struggling, the thought process led to a belief that Manziel could potentially provide a spark.
The crap hit the proverbial fan in a Week 14 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. The efforts of the Browns defense put the team into position to win the game, only to witness the offense systematically implode.
(Part 2: What led in the days before Manziel was handed the starting job, and how the GM, head coach and offensive coordinator’s relationship became a debacle.)