Friday, November 16, 2018

Bye week thoughts

 John Dorsey spent 25 minutes with the Cleveland media the other day before heading to his bunker as he prepares to name the next head coach of the Browns.

That, of course, will be the overwhelmingly most important story that will emanate from Berea sometime in the next two to three months. The remainder of the 2018 season takes a back seat by comparison.

The Cleveland general manager pretty much laid out the kind of coach he is looking for to lead this team into what everyone hopes and believes will be a brand new era of winning football.

He said he wants “a man of character. I would like to see a man who can lead young men. I would like a man who has high football acumen. Those are the three basic things I’m looking for.

“I just want the best possible head coach to move this thing forward regardless of age. . . . I mean it could be a woman, too. I’m serious. (No he’s not.) We’re going to look at everything is what I’m trying to tell you all.”

Dorsey doesn’t believe he will encounter any problems seeking candidates, calling the job “very attractive. I really think this job is very attractive,” he said, repeating himself for emphasis.

In what way is it so attractive? Let’s start with a quarterback Baker Mayfield, whose performance thus far exceeds that of the other high-profile quarterbacks who were first-round draft choices and portends an exciting future.

Throw in a growing and impressive core of young playmakers – Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Antonio Callaway, Duke Johnson Jr. and David Njoku on offense and Denzel Ward, Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers and Genard Avery on defense – on a team assembled by a well-respected talent evaluator who happens to be the general manager.

Other enticements include the 11 selections the Browns have in the next college football draft with Dorsey and his veteran cohorts in the front office in charge, and a generous amount of salary cap space.

He also recognized the terrific fan base of this franchise. It didn’t take him long to find out in the one year he has been with the Browns that this team has arguably the fiercest and most loyal fans in the league. 

Dorsey also has gravitas among those in the know around the National Football League. His reputation precedes him. He should have no problems attracting highly thought of candidates. All that will work in his favor as he whittles the field.

The importance of the choice is not lost on the GM, who said he reminds himself daily “don’t mess this thing up.” After all, it’s the first time he has been in position to make such an important decision.

Choosing a new head coach will not be like the past, or since the Browns returned to the NFL after a three-year absence in 1999, when they more often than not wound up with their third or fourth choice.

That’s why they wound up with the likes of Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Rob Chudzinski, Pat Shurmur, Mike Pettine and Hue Jackson. All good assistant coaches who failed as head coaches.

The Browns need to start hiring generals, not lieutenants. The train of futility with regard to Browns head coaches almost certainly will grind to a halt with the naming of the new man.

This time, they will wind up with the man Dorsey and his crew deem the best, not as in the past when most of the good ones turned them down in part because they did not want to work with the front office in charge at the time.

Coaching the Cleveland Browns was not high on the list of prospective candidates. Mangini and Jackson were retreads, having coached elsewhere before arriving in Cleveland. The others were not ready to be head coaches. That will not be the case this time.

As for retired Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, who said recently he always wanted to coach the Browns, Dorsey said he has great respect for him and the media will know at the appropriate time if he decides to interview him. Sort of a polite way of saying that’s not going to happen.

Dorsey indicated current interim coach Gregg Williams will get an interview. It’s hard to believe he has a shot even though the atmosphere in Berea has changed for the better since he took over for Jackson a few weeks ago.

Williams has already failed once as a head coach at Buffalo in a league where coaches who initially fail rarely get a second chance. He will be considered, but it will be stunning if Dorsey removes the interim tag from his job.

One of the names certain to be on Dorsey’s list is highly respected Kansas City Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub.  Consider the following strictly a guess: When the Chiefs visited the Browns a couple of weeks ago, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dorsey didn’t have a small, and ostensibly innocent, chat with Toub.

Dorsey will make the pick, not an outside search firm that has helped in the past. A massive step in the right direction. Dorsey knows what he’s doing and the only help he needs will come from the football men who work for him.

He will get carte blanche from Dee and Jimmy Haslam up until the time he makes his decision and shares it with them. The Haslams, as they should as owners, will probe deeply as to how and why Dorsey selected his man – it is their right to do so –  and then rubber stamp it.

This will be one time, finally, when trust will be the determining factor instead of interfering, as has been the case for the last six years under the Haslams.

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