The Cleveland Browns Need Structural Change
Cleveland Browns ownership is currently conducting a head coaching search that can drastically impact the team’s future. The roster currently has the most talent across the board in over a decade and it desperately needs the correct head coach. This team is young and filled with dynamic personalities that need to be guided in the right direction.
Various candidates have interviewed thus far for the head coach vacancy and there has yet to be a hire. Fan favorites Ron Rivera and Mike McCarthy have already signed with their respective teams, leaving Josh McDaniels the talk around Cleveland. Although rumors are circulating that McDaniels may be the front runner for the vacancy, the organization is still doing their due diligence.
This is the best course of action for the future of the Cleveland Browns. Quickly signing your preferred choice doesn’t always mean you have made the correct choice. Being meticulous and reviewing every single detail is the most effective way to make the best possible decision. It reminiscent of the analogy, “it is better to measure ten times and cut once than too measure once and cut ten times”. Jimmy Haslam during his tenure of owning the Cleveland Browns, he has fired many coaches and general managers hoping the next move would be the right fit.
The current search seems to be different than in years past. Methodologies have changed into focusing on efficiency and no data collection asset measures efficiency better than analytics. Now this isn’t a proposition that analytics is the foundation of the search but a moment to highlight those who utilize analytics. Chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta has been establishing the foundation of the head coaching search and he is doing his due diligence with all eligible candidates.
Paul DePodesta is famously known for his Moneyball approach which strongly utilized analytics in decision-making. This approach helped change the organizational foundation of the MLB teams Oakland Athletics and New York Mets. The reason for DePodesta’s inclusion is that the Cleveland Browns need structural change to their foundation.
The first step to creating a structural change was relieving former general manager John Dorsey of his position. Dorsey was extremely valuable when it came to talent acquisition but failed in other important aspects. His cap space management was questionable, and he completely whiffed on the selection of Freddie Kitchens as head coach. After Kitchens was fired, negotiations began to limit John Dorsey’s overall decision-making power and neither side could come to agreement.
So currently the organization is without a head coach or a general manager. These vacancies create a fresh opportunity to establish a new foundation for the organization. This foundation needs to start from the top and each successive move should support the prior. The most important decision in this whole process is finding a team president that can establish a vision for the entire organization.
The organization currently does not have a team president and owner Jimmy Haslam essentially holds this role. Ownership would benefit greatly from the structural change as each functional aspect of the organization would run efficiently as possible. Patience is a key pillar for long term success when the team is faced with adversity and will help the organization grow into a winning culture.
Hiring a team president would be the best front office decision because they can be the most powerful decision maker right next to the Haslam’s. Having someone that can provide an overall vision and oversee decisions for talent evaluation, cap space management, and football administration creates balance. The constant power struggles that have riddle the organization in the past wouldn’t be an issue because of the focus on an overall vision.
The next decision maker should be the general manager. In this role the general manager evaluates talent, signs players that best fit offensive and defensive schemes, and place the head coach in the best position possible to win. General managers oversee various departments and would efficiently delegate tasks for the assistant general manager, vice presidents of player personnel, and the director of scouting. Evenly distributing the power structure and administrative responsibilities make sure decisions meet the teams’ philosophies.
Lastly, comes the head coach who needs to be a leader of men. His sole responsibility is to develop the best game plan to maximize the ability of the 53-man roster and exploit match up advantages against their opponents. There should not be too many responsibilities given to the head coach because he must analyze each aspect from offense to defense to special teams on a weekly basis. This places importance on having coordinators that simplifies the head coaches’ tasks.
The next head coach must utilize his offensive, defensive and special teams’ coordinators. He should allow them to call plays that best fit their scheme and focus on that responsibility only. An offensive coordinator should be able to call situational plays that most effectively use their best players and a defensive coordinator must neutralize what opposing offenses do best. A great head coach will find a balance on approving decisions and giving coordinators leeway to make choices on their own.
Dispersing the right amount of responsibility and power should be a focus for the team. Establishing the proper foundation can affect the organizations success and its potential longevity. Yet, no one outside of the Cleveland Browns front office can determine exactly what is desired of their next head coach but the organizations foundation needs to be the biggest proponent of change this offseason.
I've been a proponent of hiring a President for quite a while but, only if ownership was willing to step aside and not interfere with Front Office operations. Currently due to existing conditions I would go to hiring both Josh McDaniels as HC and Nick Caserio of the New England Patriots. The proverbial "Fly(s) in the Ointment" would be ownership and DePodesta. They would have to be willing to cede some power to the new football man in charge of building football operations as he saw fit. jmho