Monday, November 23, 2015

What will Haslam do?

He probably doesn’t want to do it, but circumstances are forcing him to seriously consider it.

After firing his key football people following the 2013 season, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III set his sights on stabilizing that aspect of his team.

That, in large part, is why Ray Farmer and Mike Pettine are still around. That and, of course, a 7-9 record last season that is more deceiving than the numbers show.

Losing the last five games last season certainly can’t be forgotten, or forgiven for that matter, because a telltale sign of season improvement is how a team plays down the stretch.

So Haslam wisely, and correctly, decided to see what year two under Farmer and Pettine would look like. After all, he would have looked foolish making yet another change at those two positions.

Flash forward to this season, one in which the Browns have reverted to their losing ways in rather spectacular fashion. Losing 13 of the last 15 games doesn’t exactly engender anything resembling hope.

Haslam has been unusually silent regarding his team’s 2-8 start this season. The only way he is heard from is by way of his coach, who relays parts of private conversations he has had with his boss.

If Haslam is not happy at all with what he’s seen this season – why should he be? – with six agonizingly long weeks left in the 2015 campaign, then he’s doing a splendid good job of keeping it to himself.

Farmer and Pettine should have their feet on the proverbial banana peel with regard to their respective jobs. Farmer, the general manager, has not improved this team one wit with his player roster manipulations.

And the Browns have not improved one wit on the field for their coach. How they have performed (fill in this blank with your own adjective) is a direct reflection of Pettine and his coaching staff.

From a fundamental standpoint, this team lacks the basics in just about every department. Both sides of the ball share in culpability. The brand of football they play is, at times, embarrassing and, at other times, amateurish.

The offense is getting more offensive by the game. The defense, which we were virtually promised would be improved this season, has slammed it in reverse and is just as awful as last season.

It has reached the point where the talent quotient does not allow the Browns to compete for 60 minutes. And it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. There is no silver lining in sight.

Haslam sees what’s going on. Considering his knee-jerk approach to his top football people in the past, he most likely is holding on in hopes enough positive developments emerge that he’ll be able to justify keeping them for another season.

In order for that to happen, the Browns must win at least four of their six remaining games and in convincing fashion. Four of those games are at home, where they have won just once this season against the Tennessee Titans, who also check in at 2-8.

Haslam doesn’t want to pull the trigger again, but he might be forced to. Fans have become sick and tired of watching this team flail on a weekly basis and come up short.

Judging from the thousands of posts on various Browns-related Web sites, fans would much rather work in the garden or go out shopping or go to a movie or do just about anything else on a Sunday during the season than watch another Browns loss. They just don’t care anymore. That’s called apathy.

That apathy has led to more and more empty seats at home. And even though those seats are paid for, the vacant look silently represents the fans’ frustration. To pay lots of money to see this product and then not show up is almost as embarrassing as how that product performs on the field.

Right now, the thought of cleaning out his top football people yet again is probably swimming around in Haslam’s mind. This time, though, he can’t be blamed if he follows through if he believes Farmer and Pettine should start updating their resumes.

If he, indeed, does make such as move, then it is high time, as has been stated here before, that the owner finally changes the culture of his team by going after men who know how to win in the National Football League.

No more of these learn-on-the-job types who continue to breed even more of the mediocrity Browns fans have become uncomfortably accustomed to since 1999. That’s got to stop.

Between now and Jan. 4, Haslam has plenty of thinking to do regarding the immediate future of his team. That’s the day after the end of the 2015 season, the day when job terminations usually occur.

That’s the day most fans of this team, if they are still interested, are waiting for. Those long-suffering fans deserve a whole lot better than they have received and are waiting patiently for Haslam to deliver.

This time, though, they will understand the owner is doing the right thing for the right reasons if he chooses to make another change at the top.

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