Despite my feelings about the Cleveland Browns, which I laid out yesterday, I can be objective about the team’s head coaching search. The Browns have a tough job conducting this search because they destroyed an untold amount of their credibility with fans and around the league by firing a coach after just one season. When I read Jimmy Haslam’s letter updating fans on the process and practically begging for patience, all I could think was that it was the right idea, but an impossible task. Despite my concerns about this front office that missed so badly on Rob Chudzinski, this current search isn’t going all that badly. Or at least I don’t see any concrete evidence that this search is going catastrophically wrong.
Yes, the Browns are the last team standing without a coach. Yes, they’ve had guys like Todd Bowles and Josh McDaniels withdraw their names as other qualified candidates like Ken Whisenhunt and Jim Caldwell have taken jobs. Yes, I’m legitimately concerned that the Browns head coaching job is the 32nd most desirable NFL coaching job in the league. But, I wasn’t really super high on any of those candidates anyway.
I would have been happy to have a guy like Lovie Smith, who ended up in Tampa. I could have been sold on guys like Josh McDaniels, and Ken Whisenhunt. You would have had a very difficult time selling me Jim Caldwell’s resumé, and that’s the point. Other than the realization that the Browns didn’t have a distinct plan in place after firing Chudzinski – which I think we learned when McDaniels pulled his name – I’m not overly concerned that the Browns haven’t hired anyone yet.
Why? For one, there’s only so much we can know about guys like Adam Gase, and Ben McAdoo. The only way to find the right candidate from a pack of rapidly rising position coaches is to interview them and vet them. There’s no way for any of us outsiders to think our way into that knowledge.
So now that the shock has worn off from the Browns firing Chud and not hiring someone right away, indicating it was a plan that had been in the works for a while, I’m feeling relatively patient.
Patience shouldn’t be confused with confidence, however. While the specific timing of this process isn’t giving me pause, the guys doing the hiring do. Again, we can only know so much about how functional or dysfunctional a front office is. The only proof we have right now is a four-win season and an embarrassing coach dismissal after just one year. Provided with that proof, there’s only so much you can do to stem the tide of nerves and worry.
Of course I’m concerned it can all go horribly wrong. I’m always concerned about that with most everything involving the Cleveland Browns. If the Browns are focused on Adam Gase and somehow miss in grabbing him, or find that he’s not their guy, I don’t know what the supply of available candidates will look like. While that does make me nervous, you never know how this stuff will shake out. They could end up going back to one of the candidates who withdrew their name if they need to do it. Despite pulling his name, I can imagine a scenario where Josh McDaniels might reconsider. At one time last year we all thought Chip Kelly was going back to Oregon.
In summary, the pressure is on. This front office makes me nervous because their recent track record is sketchy at best. At the same time, the isolated fact that the Browns haven’t hired a coach yet doesn’t doom the team’s hiring process, I don’t think.