Let’s flash back to August 2015. Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer were about to enter their second year in those roles with the club. Team owner Jimmy Haslam was asked by the media if he would consider blowing things up at the end of the season if certain results weren’t achieved. Here was his response:
"We’re not going to blow things up. I think we’re on the right track so we’re not going to blow things up. I understand why people might ask that after a couple of bumps in the first couple of years, but we are not going to do that. I think we’re putting a good foundation in place. The first year we were here, the draft was not what we wanted. I think the second year was better, and a lot depends on how the two first rounder’s do, right? If they turn out to be really good players, then we had a tremendous draft last year or two years ago. If one of them makes it, we had a good draft; if neither of them make it; it’s ok or just so-so. I think this past year we had a really good draft. We added 12 players, two of them might be redshirts, and we have 11 picks this coming year. If you have that many picks and you pick good talent and can coach them, over a period of time we’re going to be successful."
What happened at the conclusion of the season? He blew things up. In fairness to Haslam, I think he had to come out and say what he did before the start of the season. There were rumblings of negativity being spread by the media again, and I think it’s good public relations to try to nip that in the bud if you can.
Flashforward to this season. Amidst a miserable 0-12 season, I think most fans are content that the Browns will stay the course with head coach Hue Jackson and front office members Sashi Brown, Paul DePodesta, and Andrew Berry. A recent report by Jason La Canfora, and then a column by Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer, started to make people wonder if change could be on the horizon after all. On Sunday morning, La Canfora came out with a new report, though, saying that Haslam held a meeting during the bye week to assure everybody that they are in this for the long haul.
Haslam and the other speakers detailed how well they are working together, sources said, and asked the employees to believe in their vision for getting the franchise back on top. They stressed the need for continuity, claiming they have finally assembled the right collection of decision-makers. Haslam blamed his hires in the past and all the changes he made for causing this spiral and apologized for the mistakes they had made in the 2013-15 drafts.
It’s one thing to blow smoke when being interviewed publicly, but it’s another thing to hear a sense of calmness this late in the season behind closed doors. La Canfora’s article delves into a few other things, so be sure to check it out if you haven’t already. I took the time Sunday to go Christmas shopping during the team’s bye week, otherwise I would’ve talked about the story yesterday.
On Monday, Jackson was asked about the meeting but would offer no further comment, other than the fact that he was surprised somebody leaked it.
"I'm surprised those things get out to be honest with you" - Hue not wanting to comment on Jimmy Haslam's "apology" meeting w/ employees— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) December 5, 2016
We should concede one thing: we’ll never get rid of leaks in Berea...but at least this time, it’s a good leak.