The Cleveland Browns media came with their pitch forks on Monday afternoon as CEO Joe Banner and owner Jimmy Haslam held a press conference to discuss the firing of head coach Rob Chudzinski after just one season. Here is a summary of some of the key points from my perspective:
- We've seen Banner and Haslam have some good press conferences, but this was not their finest hour, and how could you expect it to be? When you hand-pick a first-year head coach and then fire him after the team did not have a good quarterback or running back situation, did not spend nearly as much of their cap space as they could have, and stockpiled on draft picks for 2014, there really isn't a good way to spin this.
- Haslam acknowledged that he understood why there might be skepticism about this decision, because they originally stressed how important continuity is, and this goes against that. However, they felt it was most important to just move forward and make a change now for a mistake that they made.
- It was stressed that the nail in the coffin for Chudzinski was not anything other than how poorly the team finished the season, with seven straight losses after a 4-5 start. Haslam pointed to a quote that he had in a press conference awhile back in which he said that he wanted the team to have shown improvement in the final three games of the season compared to the first three games. Reports online have insinuated that Haslam felt the team "quit" in the Jets game, and during the conference today, it was acknowledged that the discussion to let go of Chudzinski really began within the past week or so.
- In response to, "why not give Chudzinski a second year," Banner pointed to the results of NFL teams that were in similar situations last year and yet turned things around. While he wouldn't get in to specifics, he was absolutely talking about the Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, and San Diego Chargers. He also hinted that other teams that struggled showed improvement as the season went on despite facing similar depth chart issues at the quarterback position, and I believe that comment was directly pointing to the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars.
- The highlight of the press conference came from 19 Action News reporter Dan DeRoos, who stressed that he was a "News Guy" and not a "Sports Guy," but that he wanted to relay some of the fans' reactions to the upper management. Everyone was in shock and awe as he actually read fans' comments to Haslam:
"This team remains an embarrassment, not only to the NFL, but the fans as well, we deserve better."
"Who really cares any more, they have lost their fans trying to out-smart the rest of the league and frankly, they've encouraged apathy instead of hope."
"I'm totally done with anything Browns-related. Haslam and his stooges, Banner and Lombardi, can pack up and get out of Cleveland."
Then, DeRoos capped off his time with the question, "Jimmy, can you assure the fans that you don't have The Three Stooges running this operation?"
Haslam then preached that no one cares about winning more than they do, and that it galls him when the media and people have to write, "same old Browns," and that it is his mission to change that mentality.
- One reporter asked, "Jimmy, about a third of the questions today were about talent evaluation. Do you find it odd that your general manager doesn't take part in these meetings with the press, and that Joe always comes out?" Haslam responded with, "I've never really thought about it, to be honest," and that was that.
- Banner said that the assistant coaches on the staff may be considered for the head coaching vacancy, or at least an interview. However, after pausing for a few seconds, he said that he didn't think they would be interviewing any other coaches who they interviewed from a season ago, which would presumably include Penn State's Bill O'Brien. So far, the only coaching candidate we've heard about is Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase.
- I felt the area in which Banner and Haslam really struggled was how were they going to convince a head coach they were going to get more than one year to prove themselves. Haslam can say "we are confident we will find the right guy" all he wants, but the fact is that there are a lot of attractive coaching vacancies opening around the league, and Cleveland isn't a place people are going to be jumping at first. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the team's next head coach is a guy who fits in with general manager Michael Lombardi, and that would be Josh McDaniels, the offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots and former head coach of the Denver Broncos.
After the press conference was over, in another interview, Banner said the following:
Banner: "20 years in the league I've heard a lot of things, but ..." never been called one of the three stooges.— Steve Doerschuk (@sdoerschukREP) December 30, 2013
What did you guys think of the press conference?