Browns Have Found Their Way

The Cleveland Browns hiring Paul DePodesta, after promoting Sashi Brown, had the NFL talking. The hiring of analytical people have some lauding it while some Browns fans are very concerned.

No matter what you or I, or the rest of the NFL, thinks, the Browns have decided what their way will be. 

In all of the past coaching/executive searches, the Browns have looked for a singular person to define their team. Whether it was Dwight Clark, Butch Davis, Eric Mangini, Mike Holmgren or any of the other random names, the search has been unrelenting and constant.

For some teams, that singular identity has worked. Sean Payton, Marvin Lewis and Pete Carroll, among others, have all had success. The problem for these teams is the transition necessary when that singular focus moves on. We are seeing that in San Fransisco now that Jim Harbaugh is gone.

To get that person right a team has to strike fire with a risky hire. Payton, Lewis and Carroll were not considered lock decisions when they were made. Payton and Lewis were getting their first chances to be head coaches while Carroll had been a failure his first time around and had discipline issues at USC.

The other way teams are successful is based on something higher than a GM or head coach. These organizations have a "way" about them that starts with a stable, solid ownership group that knows what they are looking for, hire someone who fits that and is devoted to that hire.

"The Patriot Way" is often connected to Bill Belichick but owner Robert Kraft was a huge part of allowing Bill to be successful. The New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers are the other two franchises that have a set way about doing things starting at the top. The Rooney and Mara families have a way of doing things. All three make decisions based on their "way" and stick with their decisions.

The identity of these three teams, and a few others, starts at the top and has led to success.

In Jimmy Haslam's first few seasons he was the lone consistent voice. That voice looked a lot like Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder, two owners who have struggled to create a winning way for their team. Washington and Dallas have had moments of success, and looked pretty great at points compared to the Browns, but haven't established themselves long term.

Recently, Jones has started listening to his son and Snyder brought in GM Scot McCloughan which seems to have helped bring some stability.

Which brings us to the Browns recent moves. Bringing in DePodesta and promoting Brown seem to be a sign from Haslam that he realizes he isn't good enough to create the "Browns Way" on his own. His decision making has obviously left something to be desired.

(No, I'm not talking about analytics as the "Browns Way." That will be a big piece of things but it is the people, and their abilities, that are the focus of the new Browns.)

Unlike moves in the past, Haslam made these moves to create a group of decision makers that are going to be here for the long haul. DePodesta, Brown and both Jimmy & Dee Haslam will be the way the Browns run themselves for years to come. While we don't know who will be hired as the HC and GM, they will be hired by this group and we can expect those hires to be given time to make things work here in Cleveland.

We still have a lot to learn about what the "Browns Way" will be. We expect that analyzing the mass of data, including new data all teams will get at the end of the year from shoulder pad tracking, will be a big part of it. Who the team hires as the head coach and then GM will provide us more information about what the team will value moving forward.

Whenever Belichick and the Patriots decide it is time to move on, or retire, you can expect the Pats to look to hire an innovative head coach.

Whenever Tomlin and the Steelers split, which could be in about 2 decades, expect a tough, defensive minded coach to take his place.

As the Giants look to move on from Tom Coughlin, expect a solid, stable coach with a strong voice. A flashy, or flash in the pan, coach won't be hired to lead the Giants. It is not their way.Five to ten years from now, their hire this year will likely look like a perfect "Giants move."

The Browns haven't had a "way" of doing things. They have got excited about different coaches, different styles and different names. The only consistency, especially under Haslam, has been change. The hiring of DePodesta and the promotion of Brown ends that.

The titles might change. The specific roles they take on might adjust as they learn how to work best together.

The fact that none of these guys are "football guys" does not seem important. The Rooney's, Mara's and Kraft's are not exactly "football guys" but they have done a great job of leading their franchises.

Jimmy Haslam. Dee Haslam. Paul DePodesta. Sashi Brown.

Those four will decide the Browns Way. It may not be smooth in the first year or two but they will make the decisions with a plan in place and stick with that plan for the long term. That means the most important hires have already been made. The next two, HC & GM, will fall in line with the moves already made.

Do you like the idea of having the Haslams, DePodesta and Brown setting the Browns way or would you rather the GM or HC did that as in the past?

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