There have been two constants for the Cleveland Browns since Jimmy and Dee Haslam purchased the team in the fall of 2012.
One is the constant losing that bottomed out with the Browns going 1-31 the past two seasons. (At least Browns fans hope that was the bottom.)
The other is the Haslams’ annual insistence that they have learned from their past mistakes and that the times are finally changing for the better.
That was on full display on Saturday, when the Haslams met with the media at training camp and said that, as far as they are concerned, no one should hold the past two seasons against head coach Hue Jackson. As Jimmy Haslam told ohio.com:
“I think in some ways you could say because of the talent he’s had [on the roster], particularly at quarterback, particularly last year, it could view it as his first year, but we don’t look at that. I know everybody’s saying Hue has to win this many games or he has to win that many games. We don’t look at it [like that.] ... So I think this will be the first opportunity Hue’s had the opportunity to do what we know he can do as a head coach, as a leader.”
We have to give the Haslams credit for not placing an arbitrary win total on whether or not Jackson becomes the first Browns head coach since Romeo Crennel to see a fourth season with the team. There are too many unpredictables throughout the course of an NFL season to put a hard number on a win total.
But it continues to be baffling how the Haslams seem willing to absolve Jackson of any complicity in what went on the past two seasons.
Not to dive to deeply into it, but it is well documented that Jackson’s fingerprints are all over the quarterback mess and that he continually undermined the previous front office. There is also 32 games worth of evidence that highlight Jackson’s deficiencies in clock management, play calling and overall awareness during games.
The Haslams enable it all by having an organizational structure in place where both the head coach and the general manager report directly to them, meaning the last person in the room with them has the advantage in disagreements. (Although it is hard to see Jackson trying to pull an end around on general manager John Dorsey the way he did last fall with the trade attempt for Cincinnati Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron.)
There is no question the talent on the roster is better than it was a year ago, which automatically puts pressure on Jackson and the coaching staff to find a way to post a few wins this fall.
While it can’t be just about the final record, the Haslams do have to determine some criteria for evaluating Jackson once the season is over. Playing close games is nice, winning is even better, but there has to be a tangible way to figure this all out after the final whistle.
Because if the Haslams keep doing what they have always done, it is hard to see how Browns fans can truly believe the franchise has finally turned a corner.