Ah the Browns. Everything was looking so good for everyone’s favourite under dog coming into this year. They’d seemingly finally got their franchise quarterback. The roster on both sides of the football was stacked with talent and genuine hopes of making a run at the Super Bowl. At the very least, they’d be in the playoffs – surely?! Alas no, and once again the Browns find themselves with a losing record and on the hunt for a new coach and a new front office.
It was the right decision to relieve Freddie Kitchens of the heading coaching role. He’d lost the dressing room (has anyone seen ANY Browns players come out and moan about him going??), there was a major issue with discipline both on and off the field and the play calling was abysmal with a failure to get the most out of the talent on the roster.
Whether it was the right decision to get rid of John Dorsey is another questions. He’d put together a roster that almost any coach would be happy to work with. However it seems that the Haslem’s wanted a restructure and to reduce Dorsey’s power. With that the two parties decided to part ways, though I fully expect Dorsey to find a spot somewhere else soon such is his talent for building teams (see the current Chiefs team which has Dorsey’s fingerprints all over it).
The Browns now have the opportunity to set up a GM and a coach who can mutually work together, much like the 49ers did three years ago with Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch. For a head coach though I think they should focus on bringing in someone that demands instant respect in the dressing room. There’s a lot of big names in Cleveland and bringing in a rookie head coach (like Kitchens was or Zac Taylor at the Bengals) may struggle to get it back under control. Mike McCarthy, formally of the Packers, would be my first choice and the Browns have been meeting with him. The interview list which also includes Greg Roman (OC at the Ravens), Robert Salah (DC at the 49ers) and Eric Bieniemy (OC at the Chiefs) points to them looking predominantly to someone with NFL experience and not looking at the college game where many thought that Urban Meyer and Lincoln Riley (who coached Baker Mayfield in Oklahoma) would be tapped up.
Whoever is appointed needs to put in a gameplan that focusses the passing game on short passes to improve completions. It should be similar to what Baker was asked to do in Oklahoma where his accuracy stats were good. It also works with the receivers they have on the roster. We all want to see OBJ with the ball more, and I’m sure he wouldn’t complain either!
Like the 49ers did, the Browns are focussing on finding a head coach first and will work with them in deciding who should be the GM. The Browns already have Eliot Wolf on the books as assitant GM but have declared that he will not be appointed to the main job. Wolf, who was previously with the Packers, has long been touted as a potential GM though the lack of buzz around his name would indicate that maybe he’s not all that!
Whoever is appointed, the first job should be focussing on fixing the offensive line. One poor move that Dorsey made was to trade away guard Kevin Zeitler. As well as the interior of the line, there was a failure to adequatley replace Joe Thomas after his retirement. Austin Corbett who was the Brown’s first pick of the second round in 2018 hasn’t lived up to his draft stock. Whether the two top lineman in the draft (Tristan Wirfs from Iowa and Andrew Thomas from Georgia) are available when the Browns pick in the first round will likely depend on how many quarterbacks are taken in the top ten. It’s asking a lot to trade into the top ten to pick an offensive lineman but stranger things have happened. Jedrick Wills from Alabama is one lineman who is likely to be available .
Providing that Myles Garrett comes back from his suspension then there’s not a lot else to do in terms of fixing the roster. Getting them all into line and instilling some discipline into the team is the key. All being well, then there shouldn’t be a reason why the Browns can’t be a playoff team in 2020.