Cleveland is ground zero for dysfunctional franchises
As the Cleveland Browns coaching search marches along to what we all assume will eventually turn into a coaching hire (we’re pretty sure the NFL bylaws require teams to have a head coach) the Browns have turned into a punchline, both nationally and locally.
The situation has been described as being “radioactive,” with a front office known for its “shadiness,” and some have even gone as far as to suggest that new uniforms will entice a quality coach to take over the team.
The thing is, as dysfunctional as the Browns may appear to be, it’s not anything we haven’t seen before in Cleveland. And, truth be told, the Browns are not the only dysfunctional franchise in town, at least from a historical perspective.
Take the Cleveland Indians, for example, a franchise that is quickly closing in on the 70th anniversary of its last World Series championship. Outside of two stretches – 1951 to 1956 and 1994 to 2001 – the Tribe has been the epitome of a bad franchise. From gutting the farm system; to moving the fences back because they were going to be a team “built around pitching” and then moving them in because they realized “we need more offense;” to a parade of owners who never had two nickels to rub together, including Vernon Stouffer who, in a drunken fit, famously backed out of a deal to sell the team to George Steinbrenner; to wacky ideas like playing a split schedule that included “home” games in New Orleans; to playing in front of crowds at Municipal Stadium that would make the current ones at Progressive Field look positively massive, the Tribe can stand toe-to-toe with anything the Browns can throw at them.
How about the Cleveland Cavaliers, you ask? Good question.
The Cavs are a franchise that has spent first-round draft picks on such luminaries as Chuckie Williams, Chad Kinch, John Bagley, Tim McCormick, John Morton, Trajan Langdon, Dajuan Wagner and Luke Jackson, just to name a few; has only been to one NBA Finals despite being in the league since 1970; once went through four head coaches in one season; once employed a “fat guy eating beer cans” as their in-game entertainment; may be days away from becoming the first franchise to send the No. 1 overall pick in the draft to the NBA’s Developmental League; almost moved the franchise to Toronto of all places; and once had an owner who was so incompetent that the NBA created a rule in his honor – the Stepien Rule – to keep teams from trading first-round draft picks in consecutive seasons. Let’s see Jimmy Haslam try and top that one! (Kidding. Now is not the time to get competitive, Jimmy.)
The Browns have their own place in this tragic comedy, of course. Since winning the franchise’s and Cleveland’s last title in 1964, the Browns have won a total of six playoff games (the same number of full-time head coaches they have employed since 1999); have wasted more draft picks that we care to remember; their greatest stretch of sustained success resulted in three AFC Championship Game losses; were owned by the only man in the history of the NFL who could not turn a profit; and traded away or ran off three Hall of Fame players.
But don’t worry Browns fans. The team may have an owner under federal investigation; may not have a coaching staff, a quarterback or any semblance of an NFL running game; and two of its best players may be leaving in free agency, but this isn’t anything we haven’t been through before.
Which raises the one question we may not want to know the answer to: who’re the biggest stooges here, the guys in charge or the fans who keep supporting them?
As the coaching carousel turns
While the Browns wait for a chance to (maybe, possibly) interview Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, the are staying busy.
On Thursday, the team interviewed Buffalo defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, the eighth coach they have interviewed for the vacant head coaching position, and will reportedly interview Dallas Cowboys special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia on Saturday.
Bisaccia interviewed with Washington earlier this month and, according to The Washington Post, is someone who “might not ring a bell to the average NFL fan, but people within the league describe him as a well-respected special teams coach and a fiery guy that players enjoy playing for.”
Bisaccia worked with current Washington general manager Bruce Allen for several years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and also worked with Washington front office executive A.J. Smith while in San Diego.
Despite being familiar with him, Washington passed over Bisaccia to hire Jay Gruden.
Bisaccia also worked with Norv Turner in San Diego, serving as special team’s coach in 2011 and as assistant head coach in 2012.
Hopefully he doesn’t call Turner to get a first-hand account of what it is like to work for the Browns.
(Photo courtesy of The Associated Press)