This week is the last week of the regular season for NFL football and “my” team, the Cleveland Browns, play against their ferrous city foes, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Rumors abound that Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam will fire Browns coach Mike Pettine after the conclusion of today’s game against the Steelers.
I don’t think Mike Pettine deserves to be fired. I think Jimmy Haslam doesn’t deserve to own a team whose fans have endured decades of hardship and since the return of NFL football to Cleveland in 1999, the head coaching position has been a revolving door that lasts between one and three years. Nothing remains static at the bench, the only thing that remains static is the front office at the very top of the chain.
Now, the Browns have had a total of two winning seasons since their return, a 9-7 finish in 2002 under Butch Davis and a 10-6 finish in 2007 under Romeo Crennel. Davis resigned in 2004. Crennel was fired after the 2008 season. Since 1999, the Browns have been coached by Chris Palmer, Butch Davis, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski, and Mike Pettine. That’s 7 head coaches in that span. Two owners.
And what this looks like to me isn’t incompetent coaching, but rather impatient ownership. And impatience is tantamount to incompetence. It’s as if the ownership want to just pull a magical season out of thin air where the Browns win the Super Bowl. But instead of fostering a sense of stability, the tendency is to let chaos run ramshackle over the team, to the detriment of its players and its fans.
I know, I know, I say this at the end of every season. And this time I will probably mean it as much as I did the last time I said it, but it bears saying: I’m done with the Browns (if the ownership fires Pettine.) He gets one more season. If they suck again, then you can write him off. But there needs to be stability and not chaos with the team. If you can stick out a couple rough seasons with stable leadership on the field, you should be able to cultivate success. But this 7 head coaches in 16 years isn’t cultivation of success. It’s punting for the hope that next year will be better with different people.
And that’s not team building. That’s team destroying. That’s keeping Cleveland as the laughingstock of the NFL.
And that’s terrible ownership.