“Joe Woods needs to be fired!” “Stefanski needs to give up play-calling!” “Once Deshaun returns they will win some of these games!”
These shortsighted statements are beginning to ring hollow for Browns fans everywhere.
Because the loss to the Patriots was more than a lack of talent. It was more than getting out-coached by Bill Belichick. Sunday’s 38-15 beatdown revealed an organization in complete and total disarray. The spirit is nonexistent. The chemistry has turned rotten if it ever wasn’t, to begin with.
Is this surprising to Browns fans? It shouldn’t be. Folks like myself observed this reality long ago. The Browns organization is not capable of winning consistently, no matter who is coaching or playing. This may be difficult for die-hard fans to stomach, but these things need to be said. If nobody raised these questions things would never get better.
Owner Jimmy Haslam has no idea how to run a football organization. He wants to be a football guy, but he is far from one. Ultimately, this results in him intervening randomly in matters he has no business in. He does not carry out a unified vision amongst the whole organization where everybody is on the same page. Instead, he makes decisions based on how he’s feeling at the time. There is no plan.
That much is evident by the Deshaun Watson acquisition. It’s entirely possible Watson comes onto the field and provides a spark to the offense. But the negative effects of the trade are already hitting the Browns hard. This offseason was filled with nothing but drama, distractions, confusion, chaos and fear brought on by Haslam’s decision to trade for Watson on a whim.
Smart fans don’t need physical proof to know that the decision to acquire Watson was Haslam’s. It’s painfully obvious watching the press conference. Kevin Stefanski and Andrew Berry look shell-shocked at the podium while Watson answers questions exclusively dedicated to over 20 sexual assault allegations.
No matter what the players or coaches say, you can’t just ignore the effects of that move. The players know the “real” quarterback isn’t playing. They know the highest-paid player on the team isn’t out there. They’re perfectly aware of the firestorm surrounding the entire franchise.
The team’s culture is reflected in how they play. If you think it’s just physical elements like play calling, scheme or talent, you are not paying attention. There’s a cultural issue here. The defensive backfield is barking at each other right before the snap, and supposed “leaders” like overpaid defensive end Myles Garrett are barely getting their hand in the grass. Kareem Hunt, who requested a trade before the season even started, is left bewildered in the middle of the field.
Look around Browns fans. It’s the same concerns year in and year out. Where is the leadership? What kind of game plan was that? Where is the heart and effort? These are not unfamiliar questions. Nothing has changed despite the revolving door of coaches or players.
The dark clouds invited by the Watson acquisition are never going away. In fact, they will darken once he gets on the field. And he hasn’t played in nearly two seasons.
So go ahead. Fire Joe Woods. Hell, fire Kevin Stefanski if that will make you feel any better. It will not change the fundamental issues with how this organization operates. After seven different regimes, you should start to see a pattern. Switching coaches, changing schemes and acquiring players are temporary short-term fixes. It’s like putting band-aids on an already-failing building in Soviet Russia. The infrastructure is still in flux.
Some folks saw this coming from a mile away. We tried to warn others. Now they’re going to learn the hard way.