The Monday Morning Quarterback is doing a series on the "Corridor of Woe," where they profile some of the struggling NFL teams across the Rust Belt - specifically the Lions, Browns, and Bills. The Browns were the second stop on their tour, and writer Jenny Vretnas has a good profile of the Browns woes as the eternal Factory of Sadness.
In the piece she discusses the Sadness with NE Ohio's own, LeBron James. While LeBron may don a Cavaliers jersey and not a Browns jersey, they still both say Cleveland across the chest. When asked about building a winning franchise LeBron says:
"Winning cures a lot of things," James says. "But it starts with the culture, and how guys are believing, and being professional every single day. To be able to come here and change the culture—to know what we want is to be great as we can be every single day. Does that result in wins every day? Absolutely not. But you work at it, and that’s everyone from top to bottom. We all have the same goal, and it’s great to be a part of that. Obviously, the Browns would love that as well."
The next question James is asked is how the Golden State Warriors have managed to stay undefeated, and his answer is just as telling.
"Consistency," he says.
Eight head coaches and 24 quarterbacks since 1999 is the absolute antithesis of consistency.
The idea seems simple enough. However, it's one the Browns have failed to supply for the better part of two decades. It's a question that will be interesting to see pan out over the next few weeks and months.
LeBron talks about the need to "change the culture," which is something that the Browns thought they were doing. Bringing in guys like Paul Kruger, Donte Whitner, and Karlos Dansby were moves thought to "change the culture" on the defense. Those guys are proven winners, they were supposed to mold the defense into a winner. Head coach Mike Pettine is a defensive guy. With those leaders in place and his defensive scheme, we were supposed to see a team built to compete in a tough, hit-you-in-the-mouth division.
But what do you see on Sundays? Quite honestly, a culture of losing. Guys missing tackles. Guys whistled for inexcusable penalties. Guys caught partying in Texas and then lying about it.
That's the stuff of a losing franchise. Will keeping Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer help? I am not sure that's the answer. I'd like to say that for consistency's sake, the feasible thing would be to keep both. From a personnel standpoint though, it's hard to argue with the results seen from a Farmer-lead team. Pettine being the aforementioned defensive coach that he is, it's also hard to argue with keeping him when his defense currently sits 29th in total defense, and 31st in scoring defense, giving up an astoundingly bad 28.9 points per game.
We don't know who will be the head coach of the 2016 version of the Cleveland Browns. Nor do we know who will be the general manager. But, LeBron James is correct that until the franchise shows consistency from the top-down, they will never be able to establish prolonged, high-level success.
Will that consistency start this year? It's hard to say, but it seems like it would be wise to not hold your breath.
Oh, and Go Cavs.