So what can be done to fix the Browns?
Every fan has an answer but most fans are unsure if anything will ever work. Media and experts believe that there is a fix out there but that the Browns "culture" is such that they will struggle to find it.
Many are blaming owner Jimmy Haslam for all of the problems that the team has. There is a belief that nothing will get better with him in charge.
Others are unwilling to give up hope and have instead pointed their arrows at GM Ray Farmer and HC Mike Pettine.
The biggest problem is very few, if any, have given realistic solutions to the problem. In this three part series I am going to attempt to provide a map to solving the misery that is the Browns.
It will not be easy but it will be simple. May not have all the details worked out but it will make sense.
There have been some questions from this article that need clarified.
First, the actually names, Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy, etc, were not as important as the power this person was given, the details of their contract and their general love for football. I want someone who has always stayed involved with football no matter what. Someone who was fired as a head coach somewhere but quickly took an assistant job the next year or so. Someone who used to run things but went into media quickly after leaving coaching or GMing.
Second, the role of President of Football Operations, in how I would fix the Browns, would not be the GM. They would not be doing the scouting or anything of that nature. Instead, they would set the tone for the organization, hire the GM and help the GM hire the Head Coach. The way John Elway plays his role in Denver is a good idea of what I would be looking for. The football identity of the team and someone to give credibility to the Browns that is currently missing.
Finally, I didn't, and won't, discuss who I would hire as the GM. I think there are quite a few people who could fill that role well under the President of Football Operations. A person who has a scouts mind and can go out and get the kind of players that fits the mold of what the President is looking for. The Browns have had a lot of good GM types but they have also had to take on the role as the figure head of the football side of things. It was always too much. Now, with a President in place, they can focus on talent evaluation and acquisition.
Part 2 will look at the head coach.
Part 3 will look at the players on the field.
So what am I looking for when it comes to a Head Coach and what kind of details must be in place?
First, we have to realize that big names are unlikely to come to Cleveland unless we have a special arrangement. If we have a President who demands respect it will help the recruiting process but there is still a stigma. If (when?) Mike Pettine is fired, the Browns would have had three head coaches over the past four seasons. That is just nuts.
In today's day and age, an offensive minded coach would be my preference. The Browns have talent on that side of the ball and, with the rules in the NFL, can complete a quick turnaround with a great offense. Having an offensive minded guy could also help retain our big free agents like Travis Benjamin, Gary Barnidge and possibly Alex Mack.
There also seems to be a number of defensive minded coaches that haven't made it as head coaches but were great coordinators. An offensive minded head coach could bring in a Jim Schwartz, Gus Bradley (most assume he is out in Jacksonville), Leslie Frazier, Mike Smith, etc. Unlike Rob Chudzinski, I would hire a coach just because he could get some great coordinators but it could play a factor in the style of coach I looked at.
Much like style, a coaches history wouldn't be a "be all end all" but it would be important. I would look for someone who has been a head coach once before and went back to coaching somewhere else since. Having experience with at least two organizations, in some kind of high level position, would be a must as well.
Having been a head coach once before would make the learning curve a little quicker. While we, the Browns, have tried every different type of coach, Eric Mangini seemed to grasp many important aspects of being a head coach. Had he gone back someplace as an assistant before coming to the Browns I think he would have been perfect.
Even if someone has not been a head coach, having high level experience in multiple organizations is huge. First, it helps me feel better that they are not just good because of the organization/head coach they were under. We have seen how the "New England coaching tree" has struggled. Second, it gives them a variety of experiences in different cities, with different settings and a wider variety of players.
Much like the President of Football Operations contract, to get a good head coach the Browns will have to be creative. In a very similar fashion, I would give the coach a contract that gave a high escalator or bonus if the Browns fired them before they completed their 3rd full season with the team. This would give the coach a reason to take the job with some security that they wouldn't be fired before given a chance to see their first draft class through 3 seasons.
Those worried this would give the coach a reason to try to get fired are setting up failure already. The type of coach we would be looking for wouldn't have any interest in getting fired.
There are two names that pop out that fill all of my requirements. Again, like the President role, the names are not as important as the qualifications.
Josh McDaniels, the local boy from Orrville, would top my list. He would be unlikely to come without a strong, steady voice as President but if he felt comfortable there it could be huge for the Browns. He has learned a lot from his first head coaching job and has returned successfully to the Patriots.
Adam Gase is the other option that jumps out to me at this point. Gase was successful with Peyton Manning but didn't get as much credit as he is getting this year in Chicago. He has helped make Jay Cutler into a solid QB who the Bears might hold on to for a few more years. That is close to a miracle at this point.
Selfishly, I would hope that whoever the coach is would be interested in keeping OC John DeFilippo and QB coach Kevin O'Connell but those would not be mandates. Those two have greatly impressed me and could be a great partnership with either McDaniels or Gase. Combine them with one of the former defensive minded HCs listed above, specifically Gus Bradley, and I would feel great about the coaching staff.
What do you think about Part 2 of my plan to fix the Browns? See how the first 2 pieces fit together?