As the NFL begins its final stretch run, there’s plenty of attention being paid to a team that has yet again found itself on the low rung of the NFL ladder: The Cleveland Browns. Things looked on upswing for the Browns after they nearly beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on opening day, instead settling for a 21-21 tie. They nearly knocked off New Orleans, a championship caliber team, a week later and eventually beat the New York Jets in Week 3.
But despite the fact that a 2-5-1 start is already better than both 2016 and 2017 when they went 1-15 and 0-16, the Browns fired head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who clashed from the start. This week they play the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, November 25 on CBS.
The fact that the Browns made a move is being seen as a good sign, and their head coaching job, currently being filled on an interim basis by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, is up for grabs. Is Cleveland’s front office finally doing something to right the ship?
That front office has to accept some of the blame for the Browns dismal showings thus far in the 21st Century. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2002 and the last time they had a winning record was in 2007 when they won ten games. During a string of seven straight seasons of finishing fourth in the NFC North, they’ve had numerous starting quarterbacks including Colt McCoy, Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel to name a few.
Even on draft day this year, the Browns management took plenty of heat for grabbing Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick. Critics felt they should’ve taken Penn State running back Saquan Barkley with the top pick and then chosen whichever quarterback fell to them three picks later at number four. It’s quite possible Mayfield would’ve still been available and if not, Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen would’ve been. But the Browns wanted Mayfield and let Barkley fall to the New York Giants. With the fourth pick they bolstered their defense, as they’ve done in the past, by taking Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward.
Firing Jackson and Haley shows that the Browns are all in on Mayfield. Now, it’s paramount that they find the right coach. Atop the rumor list is Michigan Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh, a Toledo, Ohio native who works well with quarterbacks. Even Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, also from Toledo, has been mentioned.
This next move will make or break the Browns as their next coach will inherit a developing young quarterback, a defense full of top draft picks and a fan base desperate for any taste of success.