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Cleveland Browns – December and Beyond

Cleveland Browns – December and Beyond

Turning that Corner

Just a few months ago, the Cleveland Browns appeared on the HBO Hard Knocks program with Hue Jackson as head coach, Todd Haley as the offensive coordinator, and Tyrod Taylor was the starting quarterback.  We all know those three men’s fate (in additional to other changes in personnel since) – but that time in Browns’ history feels like five years ago.  The elevation of Gregg Williams and Freddie Kitchens within this franchise has been rather refreshing; the sniping and apparent arguing (between Jackson and Haley) are gone from the building and all coaches seem to be on the same page.  Oh yea, that rookie quarterback is also playing much better now than he was just a month or two ago.  What can Browns’ fans look forward to the rest of the season?

Meaningful Games

Not since 2014 have the Cleveland Browns had any contests of consequence in the month of December.  The Browns, while two games under .500 are still “in the hunt”.  The odds are stacked against them to make the postseason, as the face a trio of formidable foes in as many weeks – but the games are nonetheless important and exciting.  Traveling to Houston (to face the Texans) and Denver historically has been less than ideal for the Cleveland Browns – as the only win over the Texans in Houston was the finale of the 2004 campaign, and the Browns last win in Denver was October 8th, 1990 (yep, you read that right).  In a season where streaks have been broken, it would be nice if the franchise could end those two droughts.

Head Coach Position

For the first time since 1962 (when Paul Brown was fired), the Browns’ head coaching job is viewed by many as extremely attractive.  I am very eager to see what John Dorsey does during the hiring process.  Will he keep the staff status quo, go with a current NFL coordinator, or current NFL or NCAA head coach?  There is an off chance that the next coach does not fit into any of these categories.  However, looking at what Dorsey did last March and April (acquiring on-field talent) – I have faith the general manager can do similar things with the coaching role.  It’s obviously critical that the next person in charge must be in synch with Baker Mayfield via personality and mission to excel.

What to Expect?

Looking short-term, the Browns play the two aforementioned away contests as well as a home matchup versus the Carolina Panthers.  It would be incredible but unlikely that the Browns win all three, and I am hopeful to come away with a 2 – 1 record after these contests.  They will go head-to-head with teams who are solid on both sides of the ball, something that could not be said a majority of last month.  Will Baker Mayfield and the offense continue to grow and excel?  Can the defense limit Deshaun Watson, Cam Newton, and the Broncos’ offense?  I’m looking forward to those answers (as well as the development of other rookies and second year players) unfolding.

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Another New Coach for the Browns

Another New Coach for the Browns

On to the Next One – Cleveland Browns’ Coach

Well the next Browns’ head coach has been announced to be Hue Jackson, the former offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals. I am in “wait and see” mode and am far from excited, but I am willing to give him a chance. I must admit that Hue’s personality comes across much better than his predecessor’s. Jackson appears genuine, friendly, personable, and eager to attack this new opportunity.

Quarterback Whisperer 

A positive that could possibly come with this new coach, is that he actually knows how to groom signal callers. Andy Dalton is a pretty good example; while not one of the most talented athletes in the league, the quarterback has improved over the past few years and was exceptional this season (prior to his hand injury) while leading his team to another divisional crown.

Here in Cleveland, fans are used to quarterback controversies and poor play at this position on an annual basis. I’d like to believe that the Browns will take their franchise quarterback with the second draft pick, provide him with great leadership, and see him bloom into an All Pro and a multi Super Bowl champion.

Chasing Greatness

It’s extremely early but this looks to be the new theme of Hue Jackson and the Browns’ locker room. Is it better than “Play Like a Brown”? I suppose, but like anything else with this franchise – I just want to see some wins first before I get excited about new players, coaches, or mantras.

Maybe the word greatness can rub off on players, which will allow them to fight harder day in and day out – towards excellent output. Heck, we need any sort of hope at this point.

Done it Before

Another thing that Jackson has gone though that Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski, and Mike Pettine have not is prior NFL head coaching experience. Granted it was for only one season and he finished with a modest record, but many feel this will help in 2016 and beyond.

Hopefully the head coach will be able to use what he learned in Oakland and improve upon that in Cleveland. Jackson ought to know that much more goes into being “the man” on the sidelines as opposed to a coordinator position. It all comes down to getting everyone on the same page and executing the way they should be.

Conclusion: Who knows what will happen with the hiring of Hue Jackson in Cleveland. The head coach faces an uphill battle and will encounter many challenges (hopefully none of which are internal) with his job. Yet, it would appear that it was a good hire by Jimmy Haslam – something that has rarely been said since he’s owned the team. Now the Browns need to surround the coach with excellent assistants as well as guys who can play the game at an exceptional level.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2016 in Front Office/Coaching, Offseason

 

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Can’t Get Excited This Time Around

Can’t Get Excited This Time Around

Struggling to Find Hope in the Cleveland Browns

Historically, I have been excited about the prospect of a new head coach and general manager search for the Cleveland Browns.  The optimism that the new hires will “get it right” and have the franchise was typically apparent for me – no matter if it was Romeo Crennel/Phil Savage, Ray Farmer/Mike Pettine, heck even Eric Mangini/George Kokinis.  However, yesterday’s firings and Haslam’s press conference led me to a poor understanding that the right guys will likely never come along.  I have finally come to terms to accept this.

There’s no hope on the horizon for the Cleveland Browns.  In a matter of days or weeks – there will be a new guy hired to be the general manager and another for the head-coaching gig.  Both will hold a press conference – while they will appear likeable and know what they are doing.  Positive stories will be written in the media about how Jimmy
Haslam may have struck gold.  I hate feeling like an utter pessimist, but I just cannot get on board this time.  For beginners, the new regime will have to prove some semblance of knowledge, including drafting the right guys (most notably a franchise quarterback) in the spring.

Meanwhile, it would be a good thing if we could acquire a coach that has experience and can actually provide us with an edge in tight competitions. I understand that coaches have to cut their team somewhere, but I infuriated with settling for guys who frankly don’t deserve the opportunity.

However, the likely scenario is that one or both of these guys will be unknown (or unwanted) by most teams in the league.  The Browns (and their media) will spin it as a great job by the hiring consultants and Haslam and that the team is revolutionary and trend setting.

As far as the power structure goes; with the coach reporting directly to the owner and Sashi Brown having final say with personnel decisions, I cannot laud nor laugh at this setup.  The Browns are more than welcome to set up their chain of command as they see fit.  I can only go on the past however, and remember that men in the same roles have
failed to execute.  At this point, I do not want to lie to myself and say that it can change in the near future.

I (obviously) hope that I am wrong and the team actually can secure guys who can make this a successful franchise.  Clearly I am still a fan of the team and am intrigued by their each and every move – however it’s past the point where I can trust that any personnel move made was a wise one.  I am not putting down the new hires and am willing to give them a chance, as they have not black marks.  I simply need to see some positive results before I get some faith.

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2016 in NFL Season

 

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