The more things stay the same

by Cleveland Frowns on January 23, 2013

The following is a guest post by the excellent Dave Kolonich of Cleveland Reboot and the Orange and Brown Report.

—————

For those of you not familiar with my site, Cleveland Reboot is something of a niche blog that goes unnoticed by many Browns fans. Although a goal of this creative endeavor is to engage an audience, I’ve learned over the years that with a larger readership comes the probability of finding comments like the following:

“Hiring Lombardi is not positive move from Heckert.  It’s not even a lateral move. Haslam has been bamboozled by Banner. The Cleveland browns have been hijacked by a little troll with an epic ego!”

Lucky for me, the above comment wasn’t found on the pages of Reboot or the OBR, but rather on the pages of Cleveland.com, which in case you haven’t checked lately has become even more of a festering swamp of civic shame and illogical rage as it’s ever been. Despite the Browns literally cutting all ties from the ownership and management that’s responsible for a decade-plus in which mediocrity was only a fever dream, the level of fan vitriol is at a, um, Hall of Fame level.

Mike Lombardi, Jimmy Haslam, Joe Banner

To clarify, the frame of reference I’m working with here is one in which the Browns boasted a .033 winning percentage.

You remember, the one where a disengaged Randy Lerner allowing his father’s franchise to be subjugated to the greed and/or inertia of Mike Holmgren and Bob LaMonte, the resulting cronyism and incompetence that begat two seasons worth of Pat Shurmur, a roster shredded by a decade of front office subterfuge and a stadium that curiously grew as ancient as the stale echoes of tradition that Browns’ fans grip like a tattered safety blanket.

Oh, the memories.

Was it only yesterday that Browns’ fans were nestled securely in breathless Brady Quinn versus Derek Anderson debates? Or was it Colt McCoy versus Brandon Weeden?

As if ever mattered – which was probably the point all along.

What’s been revealed over the last few eventful weeks in Cleveland is the following:

Browns’ fans are the worst.

Of course, I don’t mean ALL Browns’ fans. Just the ones who have somehow decided that the team’s new ownership group and front office are somehow savaging the proud tradition of a franchise that has been reduced to irrelevance in a league where parity is the rule. And to ask who can really blame them doesn’t mean some perspective isn’t in order.

Those familiar with my site probably realize that I am the last person to blindly endorse the new principles of Browns’ change.  Certainly, the worst case scenario is Jimmy Haslam as an opportunistic capitalist embodying the worst possible alternative ending of Tommy Boy, who knows that even the worst of NFL franchises double in value, with Joe Banner playing the numbers guy with a football complex, Mike Lombardi the charlatan of Cleveland fan’s worst nightmare, and Rob Chudzinski looking up at Chip Kelly.

Yet the backlash that followed Haslam’s decision to cash in on corporate sponsorship, Banner’s anticipated and actual moves and both Lombardi and Chudzinski’s basic existence suggests that either the Browns’ new regime is astoundingly incompetent or perhaps Browns’ fans are afraid to grasp even the most basic tenets of change.

The most apparent of which in Berea coming in the form of Banner, who has been hired to perform executive services previously unseen in Berea during the expansion era. There’s little doubt that Banner is assuming an all-encompassing role and with it, has received criticism for everything from his apparent fumbling of the team’s search for a head coach to his manner of speaking, dental hygiene and lumpy posture.

Of course, Banner is an easy target – possibly because he is an actual football executive.

Following a decade that glimpsed Pete Garcia and Butch Davis butchering the Browns’ roster, John Collins and Phil Savage engaging in board room duels, George Kokinis hiding under his desk and Mike Holmgren enjoying a second retirement, Banner has by default already emerged as the most credible front office leader of the Browns’ expansion era.

Evidently, the scariest aspect for angry Browns’ fans regarding Banner is that he is not Garcia, Davis, Collins, Savage, Kokinis and Holmgren – or some composite of all the familiar failed college recruiters, coaches, marketing executives, scouts and millionaires that continually conned their way into Lerner-endorsed paychecks.

Of course, the irony here is that Banner’s role is designed to prevent the kind of franchise-killing power struggles that Browns’ fans have sadly grown accustomed to.  Yet, when the Browns finally gain what appears to be both a logical front office system and a semblance of vision for a badly damaged franchise – the exact things that were non-existent during Lerner’s indifferent ownership tenure – fans recoil.

Be careful what you wish for.

Naturally, a sizable chunk of this venom has been channeled through the hiring of Mike Lombardi – a pseudo-personnel executive who has masqueraded as an NFL Network analyst. (Or maybe it’s the other way around.) Lombardi is vilified by the veteran guard of Browns’ reporters – those who remember the Browns’ new Vice President of Personnel Something or Other as the disingenuous career climber who railroaded the kind of front office access reporters enjoyed during the 1980’s.

And unless you’re that most rare breed of young Browns’ fans who care enough to have read this far, you’ll no doubt associate Lombardi with the ill-timed decision to dump Bernie Kosar in favor of Todd Philcox during the middle of a promising 1993 season.

Certainly, the hiring of Lombardi is curious in that no other team seemed to be interested in his services – either now or really ever. There’s little doubt that Lombardi’s past relationship with Banner secured this new arrangement. However, the dubious nature of the move will likely be negated by the Browns’ eventual successes or failures. Clearly, Banner hiring Lombardi – while unsettling on many fronts – is far different than Holmgren giving an unqualified family friend a Head Coaching gig or stocking the press box with ancient West Coast castoffs.

As Banner suggested last week, he’s investing both his reputation and perhaps his continued employment in Lombardi. Unlike Holmgren, whose entire Browns’ existence was a lavish and temporal holiday, Banner doesn’t appear to have the same luxury. Ideally, the days of the Browns’ owner paying for multiple ex-coaches and general managers have ended – which must be a sad realization for those fans who take comfort in such futility.

Or maybe it’s familiarity. After all, change can be hard to accept.

  • rulesboy

    Why would you assume that peoples’ disappointment in Lombardi has anything to do with fear, dislike, or inability to grasp change? I think most people were looking forward to change, and that some, rightly or wrongly (or neither, it’s an opinion), were/are disappointed in the form it’s taken.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      I don’t think anything Dave wrote is inconsistent with the existence of righteous disappointment in the form the change has taken, but science, like, proves that resistance to change is universal, and I think one important idea here is that the structure currently being employed really is quite different than what’s been employed here since the “reboot.”

      • bupalos

        I’m not sure how this is so different anyway. Couldn’t one make the case that Banner:Lombardi::Holmgren:Shurmur. Is there any more merit or less cronyism involved here? Isn’t the relationship essentially the same, with one shading towards the personnel side and one the coaching side?

        • atdietz80

          Lombardi has experience in the kind of job he attained while Shurmur had zero head coaching experience. Lombardi and Banner had worked together while Holmgren and Pat Shurmur never had.

          • bupalos

            Lombardi has experience in the job he attained, true. However on it’s face, it’s experience that would preclude rather than recommend. Not sure the difference between demonstrating incompetence and not having any demonstrated qualifications is as vast as you’re thinking.

          • http://twitter.com/DaveKolonich Dave Kolonich

            I mentioned this on Kanicki’s blog the other day (or the other way around, maybe), but so much of the Lombardi venom lingers from the way Kosar was handled 20 years ago. And (I’m not really trying to defend Lombardi) but if Lombardi was truly as much of a non-factor as most suggest, then he probably didn’t have much imput into the move. This points to my bigger point on how SOME Browns’ fans want it both ways.

          • CleveLandThatILove

            What I remember from 20 years back about the handling of Bernie’s exit was the coldness, and the detached references to his diminishing skills. Fans develop an emotional attachment to certain players for a variety of reasons. Had they presented it differently, ie we are moving in a different direction, much respect and thanks to Bernie for xyz, etc I think many would harbor less negative reaction to Lombardi.

            It is said that we don’t always remember what people said or did but we do remember how they made us feel.

            But, 20 years. I know I’ve grown from who I was 20 years ago.

          • bupalos

            I’ve hardly ever heard anyone mention Lombardi in connection with Bernie. From my vantage the perception is that that was 100% Belichick’s call.

          • Believelander

            This is a valid point. I’d also like to add I think it’s silly to condemn the decision outright because of his poor track record with the Browns (being Al Davis’s GM does not count as a track record of anything besides collecting a paycheck) or because of his oft-poor analysis. As for the former, people have been known to learn from their mistakes, and as for the latter, much of the ‘analysis’ and ‘journalism’ at sports networks (or at ESPN, basically all of it) is the 3C or the Skip B method: Canned Contrived Controversy – columns are written and discussions are had about things where a person doesn’t necessarily believe what he’s writing/saying, but he writes a spin from an angle because the controversy is good for the network.

            While I think we should be wary of Lombardi because of his objectively poor job for the Browns ~20 years ago, there’s no reason to condemn him.

          • BIKI024

            With Lombardi as Pro Personnel Director, the Browns went to TWO AFC Championship games and 1 Divisional Round game in the year before they got their legs and arms chopped off by Django Modell. despite working for Al Davis, they still had a pretty good run overall with a couple playoff appearances and a SB appearance to boot.

        • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

          There’s also that Banner can retain important duties/keep them from Lombardi on the personnel side in a way that Holmgren never could have done with Shurmur or any head coach. The coach. Coach, coach, coach. It’s why he’s called coach.

          • bupalos

            Never could have done? Not so sure. I don’t think he necessarily DID due to disinterest, but if you remember back to the hire there was lots of speculation (not entirely refuted by Holmgren) that he would have a lot of input into matters of coaching possibly up to and including gameplanning.

            I mean, all the reports say that everyone in the building called him “coach.” Coach coach coach.

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

    Also, I enjoyed this from Tunison (Xmas Ape) at KSK, which I missed last week:
    http://kissingsuzykolber.uproxx.com/2013/01/everyone-give-peter-king-a-hand-he-now-has-a-life.html

    It’s hard but important to write this stuff and good for Mike for saying so.

  • nj0

    Cronyism, not nepotism.

    #pet peeve

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      Given the connection to Uncle Fritz I think both apply here.

  • MichaelTheRed

    we can’t run every new regime out of town before they’ve had a chance to fuck up, we actually have to wait for them to fuck up. And if Lombardi talks us out of the next JJ Watt in this year or next years draft I will eat my own dick. But he actually has to screw up first before I contemplate eating my own dick.

  • chad

    I don’t have a problem with Banner. I’m ok with Chud. My big beef is Lombardi. He has zero qualifications that would make him look like a good hire. Go back and look at his draft record in Cleveland, and then in Oakland. Go back and find the “Good Players” he drafted. nnamdi asomugha is the biggest name. You know. The guy not with the Raiders anymore. Who did he draft int he years that he was working with the Browns in the Early 90′s? The only name that still rings in my head is Eric Metcalf. Oh wait… I forgot! TOUCHDOWN! Tommy Vardell. (Cue the eye roll now)

    This isn’t about dumping Kosar. This is about a documented history of not being a viable option as a talent evaluator, who has now become the VP of Personnel.

    To top this off, Heckert had built a pretty good foundation for a team. It’s the one thing that Holmgren did right. He hired a guy who took an old team, and turned it into a young team. He found value in the draft. The only pick that left me scratching my head was Mr. AARP, Brandon Wheelchai… I mean Weeden.

    This Browns fan isn’t mad about the Lombardi hiring for anything you mentioned. I’m mad because he doesn’t have the resume to back it up. If I’m mad at the rest of the front office for anything, it’s that it feels like they tried to convince us for so long that they weren’t going after him, and then TADA! Here he is.

    • zarathustra

      The drafts certainly were not the best, but I think undrafted free agent signings of keenan mccardle and orlando brown have been overlooked. Also, plan b and free agent signings of pepper johnson, jerry ball, and stevon moore. There are other very solid players that were added as well. They didn’t end up in the second round of the playoffs by accident.

    • zarathustra

      Also, before he was in charge–but high up in the front office–they drafted rob burnett and leroy hoard in 1990 and eric turner and michael Jackson in 91. It just simply was not as bad as people remember.

    • BIKI024

      when we was with the Browns he was part of the transition from the Bernie led teams to the turnaround with Belichick that was cut short by the move. Coming off win improvements in each year he was there, we were predicted to be SB contenders in 95 until Modell submarined the season with the announcement of the move.

      then he had a great 97 and solid 98 draft with Philly, adding guys who were key to their run in early 2000s..

      when he was with the Raiders he had a nice run there with Gruden and Callahan, with a SB appearance.

      combined with his past few years with NFL Network getting to spend a lot of time having a birds eye view of what talent evaluators across the league are doing and professional and personal growth over the years, notwithstanding personal recommendations from Belichick and Banner, Gannon, Nantz and many others, the dude at least deserves another chance.

      now don’t screw this up Mikey boy!

      • zarathustra

        Amen

        • zarathustra

          Dear god. I am amen-ing biki

          • BIKI024

            child please. what is that supposed to mean exactly?

          • zarathustra

            I was just playing. Though I could point to your mangini -bashing, which was followed by holmgren cheerleading.
            But, regardless, it was a sincere amen.

          • BIKI024

            i had 3 previous seasons of having Mangini as the coach of one of my squads, so I had my reasons for bashing him, especially during that brutal 1-11 start.

            as far as Holmgren, while the proof is obviously in the pudding, i think they did a good job of getting the roster to a point where it could attract talented coaches, whereas before, even when Mangini took the job, the roster was in SHAMBLES and a HUGE gamble for a prospective HC to take a chance with. ended up costing both Mangini and Shurmur’s job, although Shurmur seemed to have parlayed it into a slightly more lucrative job. although now that Mangini is finally off the Browns payroll, maybe he will be more inclined to get back in the show.

          • zarathustra

            Right, those mangini years in new york–when he didn’t have an injured qb–were awful. As a browns fan I’m so glad to have never been subjected such things. That playoff game would have sucked.
            But anyway I’m not going let a bad joke gone bad suck me into a whole mangini/holmgren thing.
            I sincerely think you were very right on the Lombardi thing. Amen.

          • BIKI024

            that playoff game he got blown out in? and then followed up with a 4-12 season? yup, he’s the next Vince Lombardi i tell ya. he’s a rat. snitches get stitches. besides, there was a lot more going on than injured QBs there..

          • zarathustra

            Oh goodness. You got me. I’m sucked in.
            Who was the qb that 4-12 year? Was it the starter or a back-up? Any other injuries that year? Is it not at least somewhat relevant that the following year they were good when they had a healthy qb?
            The rat thing is the most ridiculous meme about the whole spygate thing. Um, aren’t you a jets fan? If your most hated rival is cheating to get an unfair advantage of your team wouldn’t you want to know about it. What the hell would it say about him if he said nothing–at the expense of his players and coaches hard work? It is mind boggling that anyone would suggest he shouldn’t report such a thing.

          • BIKI024

            injuries abound for the Jets that 2007 season. I’m not putting that all on Mangini, but after watching him week in and week out for 3 seasons I just didn’t want him as HC.

            a rat is a rat is a rat.

          • zarathustra

            A rat is a rat is a rat
            So your position is that the head coach of the Jets primary allegiance is to the hated patriots and he should sabotage the JETS before betraying the patriots. And you say this as a JETS fan?
            Okey doke.

          • Believelander

            Hey, a GOOD coach would have won more games with Kellen Clemens/Wounded Favre, not to mention Braderek Quinderson/Jasenecolt Delwallacoy.

    • BigDigg

      I have a hard time evaluating front-office personnel given how different each organization is, how much group-think consensus must go on etc. So it’s really tough to say who can claim the success or get tagged with the blame. And certainly it’s tough to say anything about Lombardi’s run with the Raiders given how screwed up that org was under Davis. So maybe this guy just got a bad rap somewhere…

      Then I remember what this guy said about Haden and Gordon. And those guys are two of a handful on our roster than virtually any team would take on and start given the chance to swap. So we’ll see…

      • BIKI024

        what did he say that was so off about Haden at the time anyway? Joe had a disappointing combine, ran a 4.57 40, that’s still fast, but a guy like Patrick Peterson who deserves to go in Top 10 runs a 4.34. And frankly, as much as I love Joe Haden, if you redraft that draft, he’s probably right in the middle, def not 7th best in that class. McCourty might be better and he went 28th.

        as far as Gordon, kudos to the Browns for taking a chance on him, but also to the coaches who obviously got Gordon ready to go after not playing in a game for nearly 2 years, and of course credit to Josh for bustin his tail and keeping his nose clean. although who knows, let’s hope he’s careful during this offseason.

  • nj0

    Much like Holmgren, Banner came in from day one and started blowing smoke at the media. When asked straight about up about Lombardi, Banner obfuscated to the best of his ability.

    These guys may be successful, but it sure feels like a whole lot like the Ol’ Boys Networks we’ve dealt with in the past.

    • bupalos

      Concur on all points.

    • Steve

      Agree with this. I don’t see why we have to wait for the team to not be a success before we can be upset. Browns fans known what botched and too-quickly decided management searches look like.

      Most people complaining seem to still be in the “alright, now prove me wrong” boat, and not “all is hopeless for years and years”.

      And while Browns fans may be “the worst” or dumb or whatever, can you blame them for being skeptical when hearing “no, seriously this time, the brand new plan is going to work, I swear!”? That Browns fans can muster up the energy to care at all is something for Haslam and Banner to hold on to.

    • Henry Brown

      Gee welcome to professional sports. Oh wait, they do it in college too.

  • Bernietocatcherguy

    has anybody looked into the agents for all the hires. Do we have a new MVP to replace Lamonte?

  • BIKI024

    Norv presser was informative, worth the 25 minutes: http://www.clevelandbrowns.com/media-center/videos/Norv-Turner-Press-Conference—123/7a0950b6-c92f-4adb-92b7-d0c236c57274

    we’re 2 months from when FA begins people, where we have $50m to spend, and have to spend at least $40m of it. including the draft, we should have upgrades at about 10 spots in the 53. we can go back and forth and back and forth about the past failures of the Browns or Lombardi, etc, but evaluating how these guys reshape the roster in the next couple months is the only true way to see which way this team is really heading.

    • nj0

      I’m still going to point out the warning signs when I see them, but I agree all this hrmphing before even one roster move is a little crazy.

      Second chances and all that. Maybe Lombardi really does know his stuff now? Maybe his apparent idiocy was more a function of being a “media guy” rather than a “football guy”?

      And heck, even if the front office is a train wreck, maybe between the youth Heckert infused into the roster and the cap space it’ll let us see some success before the new guys screw things up?

  • dubbythe1

    In case you all wondered if we are still indeed in some purgatory for Browns fans…..

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      KILL IT WITH FIAR!

      • NeedsFoodBadly

        whatever, that guy is the coolest guy I’ve seen all day. #YOLO and he is LOVING LIFE

  • CrazyTrain1

    “Banner has by default already emerged as the most credible front office leader of the Browns’ expansion era.”

    Hopefully this turns out better than Jake Delhomme, who I remember you also called the best QB the Browns had signed in the expansion era on your old blog. You had me convinced . . . And as crazy as it sounds, it still was not an absurd argument — I mean I’d take Delhomme today over Quinn.

  • bupalos

    I truly enjoy reboot and it’s nice to have the perspective, but

    >>>Browns’ fans are the worst.>>>

    is essentially just trolling. Because as your missive goes on to explain, you don’t mean Brown’s fans simply, just Brown’s fans who “resist change,” and by “resist change” you don’t mean much more than dislike stadiums being named for corporations and fear and/or loathe one of the objectively worst personnel executives of the last 30 years, an apparent crony hire that looks as little like change from Mike Holmgren as anything I can imagine. I seriously doubt too many folks screetching about Lombardi have Tony Grossi and Bernie Kosar in mind here. I’m guessing having screwed the pooch on draft after draft after draft is somewhat more of the issue.

    >>>Banner doesn’t appear to have the same luxury>>>

    You would have thought not, but then of course he goes on to hire the incompetent crony that everyone knew and stated he was planning on hiring (hired?) well before an increasingly potemkin-looking GM search. You can’t deny it’s not a real good look, and I’m not sure people reacting to that makes them somehow “the worst” or reactionary in any way.

    • NeedsFoodBadly

      Agreed with this. I appreciate Mr. Kolonich taking the time, but I’m not understanding his central thesis – Browns fans are stupid, the former regime is stupid, the new regime is stupid, things are changing except for the fact that we’re all stupid? Is there a point beyond that which I am missing because I’m, well, stupid?

      I am open to explanation here.

      • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

        I think it’s important to note that Dave writes to paint a picture more than to make an argument. At least more than I do, generally, here.
        And is someone here trying to say football isn’t stupid? LOLOLOL.

        • NeedsFoodBadly

          All of that makes sense to me.

        • bupalos
          • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

            the CTE data was known to the nfl in 2005.

            thus the ‘helmet-to-helmet-is-ok-if-youre-a-running-back-with-ball’ rule is and has been an enormous liability for the NFL for at least eight years.

            [ahem. kanicki called this years ago.]

          • bupalos

            Yeah, this has all the early signs of your typical corporate/big money coverup. First you deny all connection, then you try to buy influence on the real research and/or fund bogus research. Much later when the evasions start to wear thin you try and scare people with how regulating this will destroy Freedom-America. Generally the shelf life on these things is about 25 years and somewhere between thousands and millions of lives.

            Between this and fracking, I sure hope Haslam took good notes from his dad’s experience with lead in gas on how Job Creators are supposed to handle these inconveniences and turn them to their own advantage.

          • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

            maybe randy lerner is a lot smarter that we gave him credit for?
            [shudders]

          • bupalos

            Maybe smarter — or maybe just didn’t have the “stomach” for it. Because my guess is that while something with 9 zeros after it will have to be paid out on this, they’ll figure out a way whereby most of those billions don’t really come out of their pockets.

            The real question is how fast can they pull the 180. Legally they obviously should start telling players there is virtually no doubt that they will suffer some level of brain damage from playing this sport, and do it yesterday. Their problem is the effect that is going to have on the youth, highschool, and college systems that feed them their fodder. As soon as the first significant college announces it’s dropping football for health reasons, NFL franchise values are going to spiral down.

          • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

            the other mismanagement of this by the nfl is wrong-headed approach is in looking at the new rules implemented.

            nfl, question: if i graze a quarterback’s helmet it’s a penalty; if i target cribbs’ head then massaquoi’s head giving them concussions in the same set of downs, it’s ok?
            answer: correct.

            i wonder how the nfl’s implicit higher valuation of quarterbacks’ health over any other employee will hold up in court?

          • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

            This is right on. I wish there was a Kanick post on it that I could read.

          • nj0

            You forgot – buy off reporters with access, influence, and money to criticize legit research, validate your bogus research, make yourself look sympathetic, and generally downplay the significance of the whole thing.

    • http://twitter.com/DaveKolonich Dave Kolonich

      The “luxury” idea was in reference to Holmgren – who truly didn’t need to accomplish anything during his time in Cleveland. Unless we’re all way off on Haslam’s intentions, it would appear that Banner will actually be accountable for his decisions. Hence, the Lombardi hire goes a bit further than pure cronyism.

  • Bryan

    I think Dave’s point is better illustrated by looking at the reaction to the coaching changes:

    By any objective measure, the hiring of Chud/Norv/Farmer triumvirate is, at worst, totally defensible and, at best, very very impressive. It was systematic and well executed. Yet many fans are angry because we didn’t get Kelly (a man who engaged in the most ironic act of the offseason by hiring Shurmur). I think this dynamic captures what Dave is getting at.

    The Lombardi hire deserve legitimate skepticism because of Lombardi’s very very weak track record (nicely detailed by Kanicki on his blog the other day).

    That said, Banner has my trust for now. But that trust moving forward will be a function of the successes and failures of his decisions.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      This is well put.

    • bupalos

      I guess I just haven’t seen all that much skepticism about ANY aspect of this new regime, from ownership change to now, EXCEPT for the Lombardi hire. And I still say that has nearly 0 to do with anything other than the guy’s really utterly abysmal track record and the rather transparent deception around how this all went down.

      This all feels a lot more to me like an irrationally POSITIVE rebound from Lerner than some kind of knuckle-dragging mob scene.

      I’m fine giving this group a chance, I think Banner probably is smart enough to just kind of use Lombardi and not empower him beyond a glorified scout. I just don’t know where skepticism about him leads to where Kolonich takes it, to some kind of indictment of the fanbase.

      • Bryan

        Bup – There was a lot of negative press when we lost Kelly and then hired Chud. After Chud hired Norv and Farmer, people have settled down and started to appreciate, “OK, this is a pretty solid staff.” But when we first lost Kelly and then delivered Chud, there were plenty of “It ends with a Chud” jokes floating around.

        • SeattleBrownsFan

          I was one of those that commented with “land with a Chud”…but not because we didn’t hire Chips. It was more because of the “PR” they did around the process and I was a Trestman fan. Provided Chud turns out to be HC material, they have since then put together a pretty good coaching staff, perhaps with the exception of Cullen, but I say this more because of the Jag’s line/defensive performance last year than his nude drive-thru thing, which is a positive in my book — when you need a value meal, you drop everything and go!

        • bupalos

          But even at that, most of it was not criticism of the “failure to get him,” because practically no one was really all that in love with him. The criticism was just kind of a meta thing about mismanaging perceptions and media. It was pretty light stuff I think. And generally warranted. i have no idea why they handled that quite the way they did, although after Kelly’s flip-flop perhaps even that should be softened.

          I’m actually incredibly pleased with our reaction on the whole — I haven’t seen practically any tantrums over Chucky or Spittle-Chin. I think it’s been a very measured and intelligent reactioni as far as these things go.

    • nj0

      While I am not about to become overly negative about Team Chud, the whole “4-3 to 3-4″ change was yet another Groundhog Day moment with this franchise.

      How many times have we seen this? How many new coaching teams have ignored the existing talent base in favor of getting their types of guys for their type of system? When has this ever worked? (That’s not to say Team Chud can’t get it done.)

      Team President misleading the press, shady candidate search for front office exec, seeming cronyism between old friends, unproven coordinator instituting his system regardless of the current personnel – all of this feels like the same old song and dance. So much so that I’d argue that, at worst, the reaction of Browns fans is simply Pavlovian and, at best the only logical way to respond to all this. I could also list several small but telling decisions by Haslam that have raised some red flags amongst the skeptical.

      On a side note, I was a very vocal supporter of Marc Trestman, who eventually was hired by the Bears. When asked if he was going to turn the Bears 43 into a 34, Trestman said something like I like the 34 but I know we have 43 personnel here. And sure enough, he brought in a 43 d coordinator (old Mel Tucker).

      • BigDigg

        This. I’m at the point of my existence with the Browns where it takes a lot to raise my pulse, so you won’t find me bashing the regime on any message boards. And like anything let’s wait and see what the new guys can do yadda yadda…or maybe people have learned/grown from previous failures, etc…I’m open minded and I can see this working if the glass is half-full.

        But the 3-4 switch is one serious red flag among several. Current D-personnel aren’t a good fit and i think new front-office and coaching staff can seriously underestimate the pent up frustration of the fan base. This is understandable largely because they jump around jobs frequently and haven’t personally been shamed and humiliated for 13 straight years and 1,2,3,4,5 (count-em) 5 different regime changes. Every one of those regimes came in with good karma vibes (except Mangini) and great new ideas (except Shurmer). There isn’t any tolerance for rebuilding through the draft at this point. This team isn’t complete by any means but there are pieces there and it’s time to start layering on top of what we have. I expect immediate progress and i’m guessing most other fans do as well.

        • nj0

          “seriously underestimate the pent up frustration of the fan base”

          This is SO SO SO true. I think everyone who has every worked on the sidelines or in the front office has done this. They think they get the frustration, but they seriously underestimate it by like a thousand fold.

          They also don’t seem to understand the Cleveland zeitgeist, which I’d describe as a mix of hyper-sensitivity, feelings of inadequacy, and (ir)rational negativity.

          • Believelander

            A big Zeitgeist olive floating around in a martini of frustrated anger so potent it’ll take barnacles off ocean liners.

          • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

            Extra barnacles.

          • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

            I’ll have three of those, plz.

          • Believelander

            Triple-distilled Clevelichnaya Vodka – guaranteed to liquefy your liver, heart, and soul.

          • nj0

            or zebra mussels off the Good Time III

        • http://twitter.com/DaveKolonich Dave Kolonich

          I like the 3-4 and 4-3 discussion, but honestly I don’t think it’s that huge of a deal. Two points:

          1. Winning NFL teams consistently rush the passer. The Browns have slightly improved in this regard under Jauron but only against weak offensive lines. Regardless of the scheme, the Browns would have had to find another (or two more) strong pass rushers – be it DE’s or OLB’s.

          2. The days of strict defensive alignments are over. If anything, the league has become one that demands defenses play Nickel bases. Discounting obvious short yardage and goal line situations, how many plays per game offer the chance to use a base defense? In my view, this reduces the importance of a base 3-4 or 4-3. The game has evolved beyond both defenses.

          • MichaelTheRed

            I’m not sure I agree with the assessment that it was only against weak offensive lines that we got pressure. There were alot of games where we got schemed hard. Against the giants we were gettnig there but Eli was getting rid of the ball real quick and our secondary couldn’t adjust. We got pressure with our front 4 on both the Ravens and Bengals who had top 10 pass blocking lines. IMO Parker is an underrated pass rusher on the D line. I got to 5 games this year and at each game it looked like he was the most dynamic pass rusher on the field. Sheard seemed to do the same thing every snap where Parker was dipping inside then out, ripping then swimming then throwing in some spins. If Vick were right handed Parker would have had 10 sacks that game. He abused their left tackle. Vick was running to his right the entire game.

    • Believelander

      I mentioned this several times because of the apocalyptic apoplectic mouth-breathing about the “failure” to get Chip Kelly, including politely lambasting one of the WFNY writers. And actually I believe Joe Banner said something to this effect later. But maybe with Chip waffling back and forth after spending last season waffling back and forth, the Browns said “no thank you”. So even though they didn’t get their Plan A, maybe it was because they realized “plan A” wasn’t what they should have had as Plan A.

      Which isn’t to say Chip Kelly won’t be infreakingcredible and we will have missed out, but his built-in Belgian waffle maker can’t inspire confidence in an employer.

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

    BEEP BEEP BEEP We got Acto confirmed for the Super Bowl Party … itineraried up and everything. BEEP BEEP BEEP http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/2013/01/cleveland-frowns-super-bowl-party-at-map-room-sponsored-by-jim-beam-and-cheddar-bay-biscuits/#comment-775893535

    • bupalos

      The hell.

      If you had announced this a bit sooner instead of selfishly bothering to save the world first….

      • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

        Bullshit. BULLLLLLSHIT. There is plenty of room for your entire effete social circle at Map, and the kid friendly dispensation was negotiated specifically on behalf of the bupettes. CLtIL and P4 are already confirmed as well, plus other special guests and other Cheddar finalists. PLUS, I won’t have a trial to be at the next morning. There’s not an excuse in the world. NADA ONE.

      • CleveLandThatILove

        Stories from Acto, bup. Think about it.

        • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

          If I have to post the lone existing facebook photo of the real Acto, I will, but I can’t make any promises about what the ripple effect of that will be. Bup, seriously.

          • actovegin1armstrong

            Please tell me that there is not a photo of me in circulation.

          • actovegin1armstrong

            I forgot about my buddy Melissa catching me while I was sleeping at Lake Travis, ( Melissa is a Salt Miner too.) I saw the photo, it is hilarious! I look like a complete idiot and for the record I am a complete idiot.
            Post it if you wish, it is funny. Please add my comment, it is a rare occasion when I am being completely honest.

        • actovegin1armstrong

          Stories yes, but please remember there is an easy way to tell when I am lying. Whenever my lips are moving.

      • dubbythe1

        Bup!!!!! You Better make it!!!!!!!

  • atdietz80

    Maybe the Lombardi hire makes perfect sense. If Lombardi weighs in on someone, go the other way. It’s about building consensus, right? One Lombardi opinion, 3 dissenters.

  • Believelander

    And not to be a …

    OK I’m being a stick in the mud about statistical reporting. .033 winning percentage is what the last 14 seasons have felt like, but that would represent us winning 3.3% of our games since we came back. .330, or more accurately, .326, is our winning percentage in the frame of reference mentioned above.

  • Brian Sipe

    Sick and tired of all the negative crap with this regime already. Heckart in 3 years never fixed the biggest problem by finding us a QB. He was not bad but he was by no means a great GM. Give Lombardi a chance. Grossi is pissing me off at an all time high attacking these guys, we are a 5 win team.

  • Bandit

    While the prose is entertaining, I think what most long time Browns fans see is the same nepotism shrouded in southern drowel. Clearly the best front office man Cleveland has seen in recent times was Ernie Accorsi, and Lombardi was part of the Modell scheme to run him out. Trust is earned not given and anyone with brains in a new town would make less contraversial, yet equally effectve chioices,

  • Dinger

    Solid article. Thanks to Frowns for posting this article. A nice walk through the valley of Browns’ darkness since and somewhat before their return. Most refreshing of all was the omission of any Mangini reference. Beautiful. Now i can skip my weekly colonic.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      You are asking for it, man. Asking for it.

      • Dinger

        I’m just like you man. You present wicked passion for Cleveland with lawyerly persuasion and I read your well written posts with interest. It’s hard to worry.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    how come i’m the last guy on the block to discover Roldo Bartimole?

    fascinating read on the Modell-Gries lawsuit here.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      Roldo is a legend. Too real for TV or Cleve.com. I’ve had some correspondence with him that’s infinitely more inspiring than The Lombardi Papers.

  • actovegin1armstrong

    John Donne was wrong!
    One man is an island.
    Do you kids think that there is any chance that the Browns could be in on the deal for Revis Island?

  • MichaelTheRed

    Is there a comprehensive list of Lombardi’s player analysis? Like who he got right and who he got wrong? Like we know he got Josh Gordon wrong and was stratospherically wrong on JJ Watt. But who else did he get wrong and who did he get right?

    • BIKI024

      he was right about Russell Wilson, thought he was 3rd or 4th best qb in draft

  • MichaelTheRed

    radio today was talking about offering a trade for Revis but I didn’t hear who they thought the Browns should offer up. Also trying to get Ed Reed out of Blt. My thoughts on Revis is that he’ll come here to get paid and then pull a Chris Johnson.

  • alexb

    If Lombardi drafts the qb from arkansas, which I highly doubt but just saying if he does, I won’t watch the Browns next year unless I hear they start the season 5-0. Horton said in an interview he’s definitely moving to the 3-4, no hybrid like Chuds was talking about. So this is gonna be painful, “again”.

    • etc

      Hi alexb! *waves*

      How are you today?

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