Some may not like the fact that more change hasn’t occurred with the Browns since Jimmy Haslam took over, but Haslam did say he wasn’t going to change much before the end of the season. There’s obvious value in openness and honesty. When Jimmy Haslam said he wouldn’t make changes until the end of the year, many took a wait-and-see approach. Head coach Pat Shurmur’s continued situational struggles pushed the fan-base – and seemingly the owner – to their limits just to really test the new owner’s mettle. The “gotcha” TV shots of the owner scowling and convulsing in frustration were a strangely welcome sign to fans, but added velocity to the grumbling, fan-perpetuated rumor mill about interim coaches heading into the bye week. And here we are on Monday with the Browns presumably focused on preparing for the 4-5 Cowboys. Ironically enough, as Pat Shurmur remains, the only coaching rumors that are being propogated involve Mike Holmgren taking one last run at coaching with Jerry Jones’ money in his pockets.
Speaking of Holmgren, it is true that Haslam did bring in CEO Joe Banner before the end of the season, but at least on paper Holmgren wasn’t really fired, per se. He’s allegedly aiding in the transition of power between himself and Banner. No, I don’t really believe that either, but all things considered, Jimmy Haslam has mostly tried to keep things as they were for this season since taking ownership of the team. That meant no coaching changes and no changes with the GM. Despite the struggles of the team, I think Haslam’s handled everything pretty well so far in terms of inheriting a “de facto owner’s” regime.
It would feel much better in a lot of ways if Haslam had come in and just started chopping, but there’s no telling how much more painful that would have looked on the field. Currently, this Browns team can’t get themselves over the top to win games that they are able to stay in, but they’re still playing hard and in this day and age of the NFL that’s still saying something. I think most of us truly believe that massive change is inevitable by this point, but inevitable change isn’t any easier to look forward to when Terry Robiskie is coaching your team to its 9th straight loss while being outscored 124-51 to end a season 1-4. And consider that this “finish” was piled on top of a 3-8 “start.”1
The obvious difference was that Butch Davis gave the Browns no choice but to go with an interim coach. Some may say that Pat Shurmur is leaving the Browns no choice either, but that’s just fan hyperbole at this point. The team is bad and by almost all accounts underperforming their talent level, but they do seem somewhat organized at times2 and still giving effort despite their failings.
And in a way all of this is kind of refreshing in Berea. The losing still stinks and the waiting isn’t all that much better, but the honesty looks good painted on the walls. And just think. If Jimmy Haslam means what he says about his process, maybe, just maybe, his process will yield the desired results of putting competitive football in front of Browns fans on an annual basis.