One year ago, Browns fortunes took a turn for the better
Like a dog working an old bone (and rest assured this dog is not named Swagger), we just can’t seem to let go of the media-driven narrative that Cleveland Browns headquarters in Berea is a flaming mess.
Especially as tomorrow marks an important turning point in the franchise’s fortunes.
The NFL, still smarting over the fact that they can’t penalize New England for taking air out of the footballs, and lacking any additional way to levy a fine on Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch, may decide to take out its frustration on Browns general manager Ray Farmer for his role in the in-game texting situation surrounding the Browns. (An investigation, we need to point out, that is still ongoing despite the fact that many have already tried and convicted everyone involved.)
Make no mistake, if the investigation turns out that Farmer was texting coaches during a game then that is, pure and simple, a stupid thing for Farmer to do. But that is all it is — a stupid act — and we’ve gone far beyond the point where people need to start trying to make this out to be anything else.
The latest came over the weekend when Beacon Journal columnist Marla Ridenour created an entirely fictitious scenario to try and support her contention that Farmer is part of a “cartoonish mess” by writing the following in regard to the texting investigation:
I wonder if (Farmer) is merely the fall guy for another front office member with whom he was sitting. That would be another example of a situation where Farmer should have stood up and said, “No, this is wrong,” instead of acquiescing.
Seriously? No one ever knows for sure what may (or may not) have occurred, but somehow now Farmer is just a patsy taking the fall for someone else?
Holy smokes! (And don’t even get us started on the ridiculous talk coming from some quarters that Farmer should be fired.)
Part of why this continues to get on our tits is that tomorrow marks the anniversary of the day that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam fixed his biggest mistake by firing CEO Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi.
Banner and Lombardi, just like offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterback coach Dowell Loggains, were the cause of any dysfunction surrounding the team, not the vicitms of it.
For all the handwringing over the futures of first-round draft picks Johnny Manziel (warranted) and Justin Gilbert (mildly concerning), you can’t point to them to discredit Farmer without all crediting him with Joel Bitonio (who looks like a future Pro Bowler), Chris Kirksey, Terrance West, Isaiah Crowell and K’Waun Williams, to name a few.
Compare that, for a moment, to the only draft the Banner and Lombardi ran together in 2013, when the Browns walked away with just two serviceable players in Barkevious Mingo and Armonty Bryant.
Funny, Jason La Canfora forgot to mention that when he was simultaneously praising Banner and Lombardi while trashing the Browns last week.
Speaking of Lombardi’s puppet, there was a point in La Canfora’s story that sticks with us about how “if you can flee, you are fleeing” from Berea.
That got us to thinking, just who among the coaching staff is looking to “flee” from the Browns?
Is it defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil, who’s been with head coach Mike Pettine though stops with the Jets and Bills before Cleveland? Doubtful.
Or maybe offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, a coach that Pettine wanted to hire last year but was over-ruled by Banner, who hired Shanahan? Doubtful.
Offensive line coach Andy Moeller? Well, he over-lapped with Pettine for a year in Baltimore, so probably not.
Linebackers coach Chuck Driesbach, who worked with Pettine in Buffalo? Nope.
We’re pretty sure you get the point. Unlike Shanahan and Loggains, who were only loyal to themselves, Pettine has built a coaching staff that is loyal to him and that he trusts to put in the hard work needed to turn this thing around.
It’s interesting to compare the negative narrative that continues to circle around the Browns with what else is going on in the league.
Take, for example, the Denver Broncos.
Over the past three seasons with head coach John Fox and quarterback Peyton Manning, the Broncos won 38 games, two division titles and made a Super Bowl appearance.
Despite all that, Fox and his coaching staff were sent packing after this past season as general manager John Elway decided he apparently knows better.
But there has been a remarkable lack of stories about the Broncos being a “toxic and dysfunctional” franchise.
That could be because winning covers up many, many things (a philosophy we’re ready for the Browns to adopt any day now) and the Broncos have been winning (at least in the regular season) ever since Manning came to town.
Or it could be that Fox and the members of his former coaching staff are professionals who don’t feel the need to go crying to the media every time they don’t get their way.
Take your pick.
Haslam put all this in motion a year ago tomorrow, and since then Farmer and Pettine have slowly worked to put in a solid foundation on the team for the first time in years (maybe even the first time since the Browns returned in 1999).
And no amount of media spin can change that.