I really hope Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam follows the same approach LeBron James does when NBA playoffs come around. I hope he, too, is undergoing a complete shutdown of social media and staying off the grid. No searching for articles or perspective about his football team.
If he’s not following said protocol, woof, is he hearing a lot of negativity. Things like NFL Network’s LaDainian Tomlinson asking how the Browns can keep making stupid decisions. Or Jason La Canfora insisting Cleveland “hasn’t even hit rock bottom yet.” Or just a general consensus that, after one week of football, the Browns’ new money-ball strategy is a proven failure.
All of this is easy to find, and it seems pretty endless. This is what happens when your team pins its hopes on a quarterback who’s already on IR instead of a rookie who torched you in his NFL debut. The Browns are the media’s preferred punching bag, and they’re taking a ton of hooks right now.
So, with Cleveland preparing for its home opener, once again leaning on 37-year-old Josh McCown at quarterback in hopes he can help the team perform better than the dreadful showing it had last Sunday, Haslam is already getting heat for his latest hires. Premature as it may be, you have to wonder if he really means it this time when it comes to staying patient.
Let me start by saying I am in no way endorsing the idea that this new Browns office is already a failure. A lot of people are doing this, sure, but as frustrating as Sunday was it’s by no means a sign everything is trending downward in Cleveland again.
Instead, what I’m saying is Haslam’s task of resisting the urge to get too impatient is going to be a difficult one, especially if losses as ugly as last weekend’s keep piling up.
There are many in the NFL world who believe the Browns losing to Carson Wentz while shelving an injured Robert Griffin III within the span of 24 hours is legit proof the new front office’s strategy is a dud. Whether or not you think this is correct is an argument for another day. That said, this regime has made no bones about the fact its plans need time to develop appropriately, and a week is certainly not enough.
It’s easy to say this now, and Haslam for his part has doubled down on this belief. If things get continually bleaker, though, that urge to blow it up may find itself creeping into the picture.
Obviously, this is something he’d have to resist. This is the very definition of a rebuild, complete with a roster full of rookies in need of development. Very little, if anything, is going to happen overnight.
This is something which is much easier to accept when no games are being played, though. When the team hits the field, epically flops and forces pundits to rain down insults on the new process, perspective can be difficult to come by.
Haslam’s words of support are great, but this is also an owner who’s proven patience really isn’t his thing. At last year’s training camp, he wholeheartedly stated he wasn’t going to blow things up regardless of how the season went. Months later, Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer were unemployed. This regime was the one which replaced Rob Chudzinski after his tenure of just a single season.
I have no insight on the matter, nor do I think one week is enough time for this front office to prove itself. I just know what we’ve seen in Haslam’s time as Cleveland’s owner, that itchy trigger-finger which can be easily persuaded by how the Browns play and what’s said about them around the league.
Right now, the on-field product and the analysis of it are both negative, and it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better. For Haslam, the biggest hurdle will be resisting the urge to overreact and not give his latest hires optimal time to prove themselves.