By now you’ve already heard the big news of the day. The Cleveland Browns are cutting ties with executive VP Sashi Brown, due mostly to the fact the team he assembled currently boasts a 1-27 record over the past two years. Per the statement from owner Jimmy Haslam, coach Hue Jackson is safe for now, and is expected to return in 2018.
The news isn’t terribly surprising on the surface. Someone was going to have to take the blame for Cleveland’s epic failures. Brown wasn’t the sole issue, but some of his moves certainly led to the losing we’ve seen since he arrived in 2016. Likewise, though he’d probably beg to differ, Jackson is certainly at fault for the struggles this team is enduring, too.
Still, neither Brown nor Jackson is the biggest problem in Cleveland. The man who deserves the most blame is the one whose itchy trigger finger continues to keep setting this franchise back further. As long as Haslam is in charge, it’s tough to believe this team will ever find its way to success.
This isn’t so much to defend Brown, nor is it to kick him on his way out the door. He did some good things in his short time with Cleveland, acquiring plenty of draft capital and selecting a handful of players who should make quite an impact over the next few years. However, his inability to evaluate talent when it comes to the game’s most important position – quarterback – was ultimately his undoing.
However, don’t let this convince you anyone has earned more blame for this unending trash fire than the man running the show. In fact, within this latest firing you can see almost every one of Haslam’s biggest problems.
The most obvious critique you can throw at Haslam both now and for his entire time as owner is the fact he’s way too quick to send people packing. Brown’s firing means yet another front office will be cleaned out before it can reach Year 3. Since taking over the team in 2012, Haslam has now hired and fired three separate front offices.
The problem with this particular attempt is the fact he spent the entire process preaching patience. Haslam noted this rebuild was going to be grueling, that the team needed to be torn down before it could be built back up. However, given enough time, he claimed he was confident this plan would be the one which turned the Browns around.
Just under two years later, Haslam fired the man leading the process. Whenever he makes his next GM hire, don’t be shocked if he again tries to claim he’s going to be patient, that he’s willing to let this plan develop before hitting reset once again.
Another one of Haslam’s faults to be found in the Brown firing is his constantly failing attempts to force his front office and coaching staff to coexist despite their not seeing eye to eye.
Haslam hired Brown to help run an analytics approach to building a football team. He then forced him to work with Jackson, a traditional football guy who seemed resistant to buying into Brown’s strategy almost immediately. This was coming just after Haslam had Michael Lombardi and Joe Banner hire Mike Pettine to coach in 2014. Within weeks, the two of them were fired and Pettine had to work with Ray Farmer, a man who had zero input in his hiring.
Now, in saying Jackson will be back next year, Haslam is doing it again. He’s telling any potential GM candidates they have no say on who coaches the team, and that they have to work with Jackson no matter what.
Why not, right? This strategy has worked so well in the past.
Finally, Brown’s firing hammers home the fact Haslam simply can’t be trusted to make the right hire.
Again, in an attempt to assemble a contending roster in Cleveland, Haslam put a former lawyer in charge who had no front office experience. He partnered him with Paul DePodesta, someone who’s claim to fame is building baseball teams. These two were brought in after firing Farmer, a man he promoted simply because there were rumors he was going to take a job with the Miami Dolphins and he didn’t want to lose him.
How can you look at any of this and think Haslam will ever make a sound hire for the Browns?
As you can see, Haslam’s firing of Brown hardly implies he’s capable of making the right moves. Instead, it just highlights the reasons why he might never be able to do so.
Casey Drottar is an independent sports writer. Subscribe to his podcast, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook