Here’s a fun thought to consider as we near the end of the 2018 NFL season – when was the last time we saw a column about the Cleveland Browns and their ongoing dysfunction? When was the last time this team was painted as an ongoing sideshow with no relief in sight?
It’s been a few weeks to say the least. In fact, ever since Hue Jackson was removed from the picture at the end of October, so too were the constant updates about chaos in Cleveland.
If you ask me, in a season full of positives for the Browns, there’s none bigger than their ability to clean out all the toxicity we’re used to seeing with this team.
Seriously, as a Browns fan, think of the questions you’re used to asking about the team at this point in the season.
“Who’s getting fired in two weeks?”
“Who’s going to be the quarterback next year?”
“Is this team ever not going to be a dysfunctional sideshow?”
“Seriously, why do I still follow these guys?”
Typically, December in Cleveland means coaches on the hot seat and rumors of a front office out of control. We usually get a scathing piece from CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, who pulls no punches when describing a toxic atmosphere within the team facility. Ice that cake with a ton of losing on the field, and you get an annual routine Browns fans know all too well.
Only now, those depressing questions brought up in the final weeks of the season are no longer being asked. The reason for this was a concentrated effort put towards cleaning out or adjusting anything which has been hampering this franchise for years.
Cleveland kicked this off last year by hiring a new GM in John Dorsey, who represented a significant upgrade as a result of actually having experience with building a team. Any lingering front office dysfunction ended up being dealt with this past October, when the Browns mercifully fired Jackson.
On top of removing a coach who’d won three games in two and a half years, the team also ousted offensive coordinator Todd Haley, fully eliminating a power struggle which was which was both damaging the team and par for the course when you consider everything else we’ve seen from Browns Town.
After this, we received reports stating one of the biggest issues this team has dealt with over the past few years – an intrusive owner – was also no longer going to be a factor. Jimmy Haslam, known for his penchant for interfering in decisions he lacks the expertise to make, is reportedly letting Dorsey make the final call when it comes to what direction Cleveland goes with its next head coach.
While these decisions – firing a bad coach, letting your GM do his job unimpeded – sound trivial on the surface, they were also necessary when it comes to getting the Browns back on track. For proof of this, look no further than what we’ve seen on the field in the back half of this season.
Cleveland has gone from severely under-performing to looking like a team to be reckoned with come 2019. Rookie Baker Mayfield has suddenly become one of the top performing quarterbacks in the league. The rest of the roster is full of players finally living up to their potential, no longer worrying about the next “chaos in Cleveland’ column to hit the news-wire.
Off the field, the fan-base has been reinvigorated after watching an endless array of astounding failure. People are projecting big things for the years ahead, and not doing so sarcastically.
None of this would be possible if the Browns hadn’t finally changed their misguided ways.
The things this team has cornered the market in — bumbling coaches, inept front offices, power struggles, inability to evaluate talent, and a general lack of direction — they all appear to be on the way out. It was a step Cleveland needed to take if it was ever going to get back on track after years of derailing.
It may have taken longer than any of us would’ve preferred, but the Browns finally appear ready to stop getting in their own way. While finding a franchise quarterback and establishing a solid foundation to build upon represent crucial wins, there’s no bigger victory for Cleveland this year than its ousting the chaos which had become its calling card for the past two decades.